Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Inspiration from Espadrille Shoes

In stores around the southwest of France, summer means that shoes with coiled jute soles and canvas tops appear. Espadrilles (es-pa-DREE). They're sold for five to ten euros for cheap ones, more for the good artisan kind. A nice light shoe that will probably last just one season and comes in a variety of colors. My husband has always looked down on them as unstylish. For the house and wandering out to the mailbox, to water the flowers or go to the market, they just look so perfect and airy.

Espadrilles
Espadrilles have quite a history, I found. They've been worn by peasants and shepherds since the 12th century. They became popular in 1880 and were exported all over the world. But it is in this part of France and Spain, Basque country, where they find their origins.
A village in the Pyrénées-Atlantique, Mauléon-Licharre en Soule, is considered the capital of Espadrilles. In 1911, nine factories in this town were employing 1600 workers. Today, 65% of French Espadrille are made there.

Espadrille are clearly part of French culture. My father-in-law's favorite cartoon character, Gaston Lagaffe, wears a pair of very worn-out blue espadrilles. Poor clumsy, sleepy, lazy Gaston is made fun of for his peasant shoes a bit.

Comic wall Gaston Laggaffe, André Franquin. Brussels
Famous humor sketches poke fun at espadrilles too. This one by a 1980's group called Les Nuls (The Dummies) says, "In espadrille, one looks like an idiot, we get blisters, we dance the disco, in espadrille, it stinks like feet, we buy a new pair after three weeks, in espadrille!"

Knowing all this, how could I refuse that pair of grey espadrille? I'm officially French now.

10 comments:

  1. Those shoes look French. I hope they are comfortable. :)

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  2. They look way comfy! I totally want a pair :)

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    1. They're great breathable shoes - just not so great on rainy days like today. I think you can find them online at www.espadrilles-mauleon.fr if interested.

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  3. Sounds like flip flops here! Can you say, "Old Navy"? Lol. (Although I doubt their history goes back so far...)

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    1. Yup - though they don't make the annoying clacking, you can shuffle ;) Vincent was flabbergasted when we went to a wedding in the USA and there were girls wearing flipflops with their summer evening dresses!

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  4. thats quite a lot of info about seemingly simple shoes =)

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    1. I love it when an ordinary object gives so much inspiration ;)

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  5. They sound like comfortable shoes!

    And that video was funny--thanks for the translation, as I don't know any French.

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  6. Those are so cool!
    Do you really get blisters in them?
    The video was funny, I have the song in my head now!

    -Gracie

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