Tag Archives: shoe history

A short history of The humble espadrille

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Espadrilles are once again “having a moment” – or should that be, they’ve been “having a moment” every summer for so many years that they’ve now made the leap into must-have summer staple. I’ve just ordered this pair from ASOS (yippee!) which I hope will cover me for a wedding, work and my summer holiday:

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Here’s a short history lesson on these humble rope and canvas shoes, followed by some summer shoe shopping inspo (another yippee!). The Archaeological museum of Granada holds the earliest known pair of espadrilles – estimated to be a staggering 4,000 years old, which were found with human remains inside the “cueva de los murielagos” (the bat-cave).

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A 4,000 year old fashion, still going strong. I’ll take mine from ASOS though, thanks.

Espadrilles were also commonly used in the Pyrenees as peasant footwear dating back as far as the 14th century. They first “had a moment” fashion-wise during the 19th Century in the French Pyrenean city of Mauléon, where they were apparently on-trend for soldiers and priests.

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Espadrilles next had a fashion resurgence in the USA in the 1940s, partly due to their appearance on the feet of Lauren Bacall’s stylish character Nora Temple in Key Largo.

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In 1970, Yves Saint Laurent  invented the wedge espadrille and women worldwide embraced the concept of a shoe that was comfortable and stylish, glamorous and casual.

Espadrille popularity skyrocketed again in the 1980s, thanks to Sonny Crockett (played by Don Johnson) in Miami Vice. 

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In SS2013, espadrilles even got the Chanel seal of approval with this seriously covetable pair:

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Today, the humble espadrille can take you from work to the supermarket and from the beach to dinner. Here are my top summer picks:

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Michael Kors $99
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Banana Republic $98
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H&M £12
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Kurt Geiger £150

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Monsoon £59
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ASOS £15
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Love Moschino £74
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Soludos £48

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