During the Spanish Civil War, there was a shortage of espadrilles in the shops, like most other commodities. Consequently, the Catalan women started making their own vigatanes, crocheting the upper material and using rubber from old car tires for the soles.
In 1964, the espadrille became mandatory within the Spanish Infantry by royal decree. Today still, they are part of the ceremonial uniform of the police force in Catalogne, the Mossos d’Esquadra. The espadrilles then take the colour blue.
In the 70’s, they were considered a thing of the past, poor and obsolete, mostly used by farmers. The Catalan population thought of them as another cultural stereotype, along with the sardana and Barça. However, it was at the very same time that the espadrilles were discovered, adopted and reinterpreted by the fashion industry.
La Manual, atelier founded in 1940 in Barcelona, saw the espadrilles’ real potential and managed to bring them back to the local fashion scene. This atelier is also the historical manufacturer of the famous police espadrilles.
Some devoted fans are Jack Nicholson, Jeanne Moreau, Penélope Cruz, Tyra Banks, Julianne Moore and Raven Symone. Salvador Dalí also used to wear them along with Pope Jean Paul, Oswaldo Guayasamín (perhaps the most eminent master painter and sculptor of Latin America), Queen Silvia of Sweden, Ralph Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier.
The typical Barcelona model is hand-made, its sole is composed of braided rope and the upper of hemp cloth. Its ribbons are just as decorative as they are functional, tie them around your ankles and tighten the shoes to your comfort.