It’s been a while since I kicked off the Haute History series, so I thought it was high time for another installment! With May just around the corner, I was inspired to research something that’s classically summer — the espadrille. But what was once a simple flat shoe has evolved into so many more style options: sandals, wedges, heels, and loafers. Here’s the low down on this summer staple (with lots of stylish options to check out too!):
Espadrilles have been made in southern France and northern Spain (or, more accurately, the regions of Occitania and Catalonia) since the 14th century. In the Basque country, you can still find shops who have produced espadrilles for over a century! And, just like Mary Janes, espadrilles were traditionally worn by both men and women (what is it with men starting off shoe trends??).
Funnily enough, espadrilles were originally shoes for peasants. They had a canvas upper, cut and fashioned from a single piece of fabric, with side seams made of rope. Some versions also had fabric laces that would tie around the ankle (like this).
So when did espadrilles become popular? Not until the 1940s in the US — in fact, Lauren Bacall can be seen wearing espadrilles in her 1948 film Key Largo. The shoes had a bit of a renaissance in the 80s, when Don Johnson’s character wore them in Miami Vice, and if my 90s and 00s fashion memory serves me correctly, they’ve been a popular summer trend ever since!