Shop the Best Espadrilles For Summer—They’re the Only Shoe You’ll Need

On my first trip to Madrid, the only queue I stood in led me not to Picasso’s Guernica or chocolate-dipped churros, but to Casa Hernanz, a maker of Spanish espadrilles since 1845. At the Casa, everything is crafted by hand and shopgoers can take their pick between varying heel heights and a rainbow of colors. According to the website of the shoemaker (which is now helmed by the latest generation of the Hernanz family, Jesús and Antonio), the techniques behind today’s batch of shoes go back a very long way; the addition of a practical rubber sole has been the only improvement. Exiting Casa Hernanz, I bore about a half-dozen shoes. Each espadrille, after all, only costs about as much as lunch.

Spain is considered the birthplace of the espadrille. The sole of the shoe is made with braids of dried esparto grass, a plant indigenous to southern Spain, and documented appearances of the footwear date back to the 13th century. One could say the next milestone in the history of espadrilles came in 1970, when Yves Saint Laurent enlisted Castañer to help him architect a heeled version of the famous woven shoe. The result went down in fashion history and Castañer, a label founded in the city of Bañolas in 1927, continues to make the design. And why reinvent the wheel? As a devoted wearer, I can confidently say that I think the heeled espadrille is the perfect summer shoe. Call me up between the months of May and August and chances are, I’ll answer in a pair of Castañers.

Photographed by Arthur Elgort, Vogue, December 1992

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