ESPADRILLES: A SUMMER LEISURE SHOE
by S. Charlie Weyman
Brush the dust off any menswear history book, and inside you’ll find that much of what we wear today can be traced back to either military or work uniforms. Sport coats, for example, originate with hunting in England, neckties with the kerchiefs that Croatian soldiers used to tie around their necks, and jeans from the canvas overalls made for Gold Rush miners in California. Some may be surprised to learn that espadrilles – those casual summer slip-ons that we associate with an easy life on the Riviera – also originate from war and work. Well, sort of. Men have been wearing jute soles for thousands of years, but early versions of the modern espadrille can be found in Spain during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. Some say they debuted on the feet of infantrymen in the King of Aragon’s army. Others say they start with peasants in the mountainous regions of Catalonia. Regardless, the originals were not meant for easy living.
Today, however, espadrilles are worn for leisure.