Shopping in Barcelona and across Spain for espadrille shoes is a breeze, because authentic espadrille shoes are traditionally made in Catalonia and the Basque Country (and France) dating back 4,000 years! Although, it wasn't until the 20th century when cultural figures such as, Salvador Dali, Pablo Picasso, Yves Saint Laurent and John F. Kennedy popularised espadrille shoes.
Since 1322 espadrilles (also known as alpargatas) used to be peasant footwear, and like all of the simple things in life, an espadrille shoe, made from authentic materials continues to wear well practically and adapt nicely for different fashion trends.
There are loads of gorgeous independent shops and luxury high-end boutique shops in Barcelona selling different styles of espadrille shoes, from a flat espadrille shoe to other fashion trends such as, espadrille platforms, espadrille sneakers, espadrille sandals, espadrille boots, espadrille slip-ons and ankle-tie espadrilles, so if you live in Barcelona and Spain, you are completely spoilt for choice, and if you here shopping in Barcelona for espadrilles, don't worry we have got you covered.
The oldest espadrille shoe shop is located in Barcelona
La Manual Alpargatera is the oldest espadrille shoe shop, where you can buy the oldest style of basic espadrille slip-on shoes made with a canvas upper, with a toe and vamp cut in one piece and attached by the seam of the Jute (rope) sole at the side of the espadrille shoe.
Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali often wore espadrille shoes
Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali were both accustomed to socialising and working in espadrille shoes. More commonly, Pablo Picasso wore variations of the espadrille shoe, with his most popular espadrille style being the espadrille lace-up shoe which tied over the bridge of the foot, as pictured below.
The espadrille Jute sole
In the early days, different regions of Catalonia, Spain (and France) sourced variations of tough grass for the sole of the shoe, however to this day, authentic espadrille soles continue to be made from imported high-quality jute from Bangladesh, India
The jute sole is the most critical part of the espadrille shoe. The Jute plant twines are firstly machine-braided to form the shape of the espadrille sole, then pressed securely underneath. Different espadrille designers use various uppers such as, foam, leather, PVC, Jute, brightly coloured textiles, different accessories or wood is built onto the Jute sole of the espadrille shoe.
Many espadrille shoes are manufactured here in Catalonia, in Barcelona, in factories, small workshops and in some cases, the espadrille shoes are adjusted at the back of the espadrille shop. Certainly not exclusive to Spain and France, espadrilles are also assembled in Argentina (known as alpargatas), Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay and Venezuela, all of who import the Jute for the sole from Bangladesh, India, where 80% of the world's Jute plant is grown, keeping the original espadrille shoe truly authentic.
For example, this elegant espadrille heeled sandal is designed with an authentic jute sole and a jute upper, with a contrasting quality leather ankle strap and neutral beaded detailing across the bridge of the foot by Tave. Not available online, only available in a Tave the shop in Gracia (Nearest Metro Joanic).
Back in the 70's when cultural figures Yves Saint Laurent popularised espadrille shoes, along with Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and JFK, Saint Laurent the brand then went onto collaborate with Spanish espadrille shoe designer Castaner, who together created a luxury YSL espadrille shoe.
Collaboration is the key to success
More recently, luxury English designer, Paul Smith has collaborated with Castaner to create variations of a reinforced Castaner X PS Paul Smith flat espadrille and platform espadrille shoes which incorporate the quintessential PS stripe which works spectacularly.
Shopping in Barcelona for espadrilles
Based upon the quality, comfort, design and finish I have 'compressed' a list of espadrilles shops in Barcelona and online.
La Manual Alpargatera - Shop for a classic espadrille shoe at the oldest espadrille shoe shop in Barcelona, established in 1943 (nearest Metro Jaume).
Yves Saint Laurent - Shop for luxury designer espadrilles at Saint Laurent (Metro Passeig de Gracia)
Paul Smith - Shop for a luxury collaboration C/o. Castaner at La Commerical Paul Smith
Toni Pons - Shop for variations in espadrille styles and fabrics at Toni Pons (Metro Jaume)
2Espadrilles - Shop for basic espadrilles in all colours at 2Espadrilles (Metro Jaume)
Thom Browne - Shop for a leather espadrilles at Santa Eulalia (Metro Passeig de Gracia)
Massimo Dutti - Shop for quality, reinforced espadrilles at Massimo Dutti (multiple shops, including one near Metro station Placa de Catalunya)
Corina - Shop for neutral espadrilles that tie with different weaving at Oliver Decoración (nearest Metro Jaume).