Catalan handicraft from Barcelona

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.

CATALAN Tradition

Handmade in Barcelona by La Manual.

CATALAN TRADITION

Vigatane with Wedged Heels and Laces.
Insole in rope lined with a cotton canvas to avoid pressure burns.

CATALAN TRADITION

We recommend you order your usual size.
Sizes: 37 to 46.

The manufacturer
Manufacturing detail
Materials and Maintenance
Size guide

Barcelona Espadrilles with Wedges and Laces

84,00 €

The genuine Barcelona espadrilles with wedges and ribbons, called “vigatanes” (pronounced “bigatanes”).

  •  very good stability.

  • Made in the finest Catalan tradition since ancient times.

  • We recommend you order your usual size.

  • Sizes: 37 to 46.

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Worship side

The devoted fans of the Catalan espadrilles are countless and include Jack NicholsonJeanne MoreauPenélope CruzTyra BanksJulianne Moore and Raven SymoneSalvador Dalí also used to wear them along with Pope Jean PaulOswaldo Guayasamín (perhaps the most eminent master painter and sculptor of Latin America), Queen Silvia of SwedenRalph Laurent and Jean-Paul Gaultier.

The Catalan espadrille, “vigatane”, handmade in cotton canvas, with a sole of jute rope and long cotton laces, has been used by the Catalans since the dawn of time and has become the symbol of their identity. Worn across the region during cultural ceremonies and festivities and when dancing the sardana, the traditional Catalan dance, the vigatane has become a timeless basic for both men and women. It’s impossible not to fall in love with these practical and comfortable shoes. deTOUJOURS went looking for them at their source.

The word “espadrille” is a transposition of “espardille” which was borrowed from the Occitan word “espardi(l)hos” or “Spartan sandals” and before that from the old Provençal “espart”, itself taken from the Greek word “sparte”. Their roots to ancient Greece, like the Spartan sandals, are a testament to a time when the Mediterranean region was influenced by Athens, like later by Rome. This explains why, in Catalonia, from Barcelona to the Balearic Islands, from Cadaquès to the foothills of the Pyrenees, the espadrille has been part of the local apparel since the Middle Ages, with or without laces that tie around the ankles.

In the Eastern Pyrenees, where it is called “vigatana”, it was part of everyday life, from working the land to dancing, hiking in the mountains and playing rugby.

There are written traces in the Catalan language from 1322, where the espadrilles are described as they are today. They were even worn by the light infantry of the Kingdom of Aragon.

After the Great War, people yearned for simplicity, the utilitarian and a return to nature which influenced the lifestyles, clothes and diets. The vigatane, for its simplicity and functionality, fit perfectly with this movement and so, it left its traditional context and would soon become a fashion accessory, worn for various occasions and by different social classes.

In the 30’s, the vigatane was adopted by elegant women on holiday on the French Riviera, from the Villa Noailles in Hyères all the way to Biarritz with Gabrielle Chanel, which corresponded to a revived affection for ancient aesthetics, in architecture as well as fashion. For some, a long, fine skirt, a linen blouse with a simple tie around the waist, for others, a surrealist pirate look and navy shirts. The liberty and comfort of this new style seduced people all around the world.

During the 1950’s, the espadrilles continued to be in vogue, frequently worn by artists and icons like Dalí, Picasso, Ava Gardner and Grace Kelly.

At some point in the 70’s, the espadrille finally entered the history of fashion when designers like Yves Saint Laurent started making them and they appeared on the front pages of the most prestigious fashion magazines, featured with clothes of designers who knew how to make this shoe sexy.

Today, they are still an essential summer accessory.