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Espadrilles: humble and chic!


If there’s something which fashion is famous for, that would be its constant changes, however it does have some elements which never change. This is the case of the espadrille, a shoe typical of the Mediterranean which was very popular with the working classes but which today is seen as another fashion accessory.

It is believed that this form of footwear has its origins around 4000 years ago, when it started life as a type of sandal in ancient Egypt, which the Romans then adapted.

Our first modern mention of it dates from the XIV century. A document from 1322 written in Catalan mentioned “espardenyes” (espadrilles) for the first time.

Their use has extended since then and today they are made, and worn, all over the world.

In Spain, they are to be found in the regions of Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, the Balearic Islands, Murcia, Granada and Almeria, as well as in the Basque Country and Navarre.

And the funny thing about espadrilles is that everyone likes them and they suit everybody,

And now the big question, what exactly is an espadrille?

It is a type of footwear, much like a slipper, whose sole is made of braided esparto, or halfah grass, although hemp or sisal are also used.

And the top part is usually made of cotton, canvas, or even animal skins. They can be made with, or with, laces and are worn especially in Spain, the South of France, and several parts of Latin America.

In the XX century, this humble form of footwear had its Hollywood debut thanks to Lauren Bacall, who wore a pair of laced-up espadrilles in the 1948 movie, Key Largo, thus instilling a taste for them amongst fashionable Americans.

But its relationship with high fashion does not end there.

In the 70s, celebrated French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent wanted to create a high-heeled version of the espadrille. He contacted Spanish espadrille maker Castañer and their espadrille wedge shoes were a hit on the runway. So much so that they are still sold today.

When the 80s came around, the humble espadrille became fashionable again thanks to the hit series ‘Miami Vice’. It was Don Johnson, who played detective Sonny Crockett, who wore several pairs during the show.

And not long ago, Jimmy Choo was selling $500 espadrilles in New York.

It’s amazing how far this ancient accessory has come!

If you want to buy a pair, or two, Madrid Experience knows the best stores in Madrid where you can buy this simple shoe, including the one where the Spanish Royal family buys theirs, and we can take you there as part of a VIP Tour of Madrid’s oldest Stores, as part of your Personal Shopper experience, or even as part of your VIP Tour of Madrid.


Contact us at:

Madrid Experience –


Tel. 0034 915 417 099 – 0034 644 355 651

or click here

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