The classic rope-soled shoe of the French Mediterranean is the hot new shoe, as men around the world discover the simplicity and comfort of the espadrille. First appearing in the Pyrenees mountains, espadrilles have become synonymous with summer and the casual ease of the Riviera. Over time, their appeal and look have found their way into modern fashion, and fashion houses such as Versace and Armani have even used them on the runway. Don Johnson sported a pair in white during the early years of Miami Vice on television. Today, however, they have become the easiest to pack and most versatile footwear for a man of any age to wear in warmer climates.
Espadrilles are normally casual flat, but sometimes high heeled shoes originating from the Pyrenees. They usually have a canvas or cotton fabric upper and a flexible sole made of rope or rubber material moulded to look like rope. The jute rope sole is the defining characteristic of an espadrille; the uppers vary widely in style.
The espadrille has been around for centuries maybe even thousands of years. The Archaeological museum of Granada owns a pair of espadrilles that were found on human remains inside the “cueva de los murielagos” (the bat-cave).
Espadrilles became fashionable in USA in the 1940s. Lauren Bacall’s character in the 1948 movie Key Largo wore ankle-laced espadrilles. The style was revived in the 1980s, due to the success of Miami Vice—the shoe was worn by Sonny Crockett (Don Johnson).
In the summer of 2009 one could see the espadrilles, having a hesitant comeback. Since then, they have become a classic piece of summer footwear for men.
Espadrilles are unquestionably casual, to the point at which they could be considered more like ‘outdoor slippers’ than shoes. This is definitely not the sort of footwear you can take into a business meeting on Monday morning! However, they are an ideal solution for those planning to spend their holiday deck side, or perhaps walking the dog along the boardwalk in the oppressive twilight heat. Living in Greece, I am used to seeing Men wearing Espadrilles during the morning or the afternoon, on the beach or for a walk. Again, avoid wearing them on dinner, or something even slightly formal.