Tuesday, July 16, 2013


Everyone is collaborating today bringing ideas together, especially in the fashion world. But one of the best and earliest collaborations for those of us that love fashion, took place in the early 70’s when Yves Saint Laurent met the Castañer‘s at a trade show in Paris. Yves Saint Laurent had wanted to create a satin espadrille with a 2″ platform and ankle strap.

Castañer, whose original family owned workshop dates back to 1776, had never made such an espadrille but understood the vision.  Yves Saint Laurent commissioned them to make the first ever espadrille wedge heeled design, changing the course of history. From that moment on, the footwear was transformed from a common everyday shoe or a shoe for beach goers on summer holidays to a fashionable luxury item gracing the runways.

first ysl espadrille, original ysl espadrille, vintage espadrille photo

Castañer for YSL red satin espadrille

Espadrilles have been spotted on many fashionable feet over the years, but did you know that they had very humble beginnings?

The shoes have been made on both sides of the Pyrenees in France, Oc country and Spain, Catalonia since at least the 14th century, or 1300.

vintage photograph handmaking espadrilles, espadrille worker, alpargatas vintage photo, espadrilles, espadrilles shoes, espadrille shoes, espadrille handmade

Traditional espadrille(alpargatas) maker in Catalonia















vintage photo of espadrille production in Bordeaux France, Vintage espadrille shoes photo, vintage espadrilles photo

Vintage photograph of espadrille production in Bordeaux, France









For centuries they were the work wear shoe for farmers, peasants and fisherman, even worn as standard issue military footwear for the Spanish infantrymen. Flat with canvas upper, jute wrapped heels and jute soles, similar to our versions today with the exception of our modernized rubber soles.

In the 1940’s, popularity of the espadrille shoe was waning, until Lauren Bacall appeared wearing the ankle tie version in the American film Key Largo creating a stir.

vintage photograph lauren bacall wearing espadrille shoes. Lauren Bacall wearing espadrille shoes in the film Key Largo 1948.

Lauren Bacall wearing espadrilles in 1948













vintage photograph of girls wearing espadrilles, sexy espadrilles, iconic espadrilles

Vintage photograph of espadrille street style

The espadrille went in and out of fashion into the 60’s.I was talking to some French friends who wore espadrilles while growing up. The shoes have always been unisex and they were telling me stories of growing up in the 60’s and 70’s wearing the flat jute soled style throughout the summer. They knew it was almost the end of holidays and time to go back to school when the soles of their espadrilles were tattered and worn through.

Today you can still find espadrilles made in the traditional way in endless styles and colors from flat to wedges and of course gracing the catwalks of many designers creating the “it” shoe season after season.

Here are just a few of the many available fun styles for Summer 2013~

espdrilles 2013, the best espadrilles for summer, stylish espadrilles, luxury espadrilles, espadrille wedge heel, espadrille ankle tie, espadrille flats
1. Castañer
2. Steve Madden
3. Brian Atwood
4. Sperry Topsider
5. Gap
6. Missoni
7. Chloe
8. Christian Louboutin
9. Lanvin
10. B Brian Atwood
11. Valentino
12. Soludos

Images courtesy of Pinterest. Headline image shot by Carly Tati

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19 Responses to Story of the espadrille

  1. This is super interesting :-)

    Thanks for sharing and have a lovely day


    Piera Anastasia

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  4. I love espadrilles! It’s interesting to know they have such a cool history 😀

  5. Wow that’s a lot of history. I’ve always loved espadrille. Never knew it came with such a rich and interesting history. Congratulations on getting featured in this week’s IFB Links a la Mode. You totally deserved it, fellow linker. xx
    I’m over at

    P.S Love the wedges! :)

    Love, Somdyuti

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  7. Tianna, Caity, and Piera Anastasia,

    Who would have thought that a simple shoe had such a big history:) Makes wearing them more fun.

    Have a great weekend everyone! :)

  8. Really dont like them in general, but loved reading the history. Esply, surprised to know they have a touch of YSL in them, very interesting. Very different from everything else he created.

    • Carly Tati

      Hi Archana
      Thanks for your comment, especially that your not a huge fan of espadrilles. YSL’s influence continues to prevail~~

  9. i loved this post..this was a history lesson in fashion.the kind i love..delving through films and streets..

    • Carly Tati

      hey Debi,
      My fav part was the vintage street style photo of the chic girls in their espadrilles. Thanks for stopping by~~

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