Espadrilles: Style, occasion, and brands
UPDATE: This is a nice video from Diegos showing how espadrilles are made. You can see the better, neater hand sewing of the soles mentioned below.
I remember clearly when I got my first pair of espadrilles. I was 19, on holiday in Spain, and bought a pair from a local market. Dusty and unceremoniously wrapped with an elastic band, they were bought as a cheap alternative to the flip-flops that were giving me blisters.
I wore them every day for the rest of the holiday. Even at that age, I appreciated the elegance of wearing something that covered my bony toes. You could also stand on the backs, and so slip them on like as a sandal. They were cool and comfy.
In fact, it was the comfort underfoot that really got to me. There’s something deeply pleasurable about walking on the coiled rope that makes up their sole. It moves against your feet, almost massaging them. And crunches in a satisfying manner.
That rope makes them terrible with water. The key mistake most people seemed to make was the wear them to the beach and get them near the sea. The rope hardens, and they’re never the same again.
That might seem hopelessly impractical in a holiday shoe, when you could be close to a pool or the sea every day. But it takes little effort to take them off before they get wet. And if you’re not prepared to invest that amount of effort, you’ll struggle with almost any good-looking clothes.
I bought a second pair of espadrilles the following year, avoided getting them wet, and they lasted another five summers.
People talk about espadrilles as a throw-away item, and certainly the rope sole will gradually fray at the edges. But all you need to do is trim them with a pair of scissors, and they’ll be pretty much as good as new.
One thing the rope is certainly bad for is walking on concrete, or tarmac. Basically, wearing in town. This is where the versions sold more commonly in cities today, with thin rubber soles on the bottom, are more practical - and perhaps represent a second category of espadrille.
I don’t mind these soles. I remember when Italian maker Zabbatigli first started doing them (perhaps 10 years ago), the rubber was too thick, and stiff. Today, the soles are universally thin and flexible.
I still prefer a simple rope sole on holiday. I want that crunch under foot as I walk out to the terrace on a cool morning to have breakfast. But for wearing in London in the Summer, the rubber sole is best.
In London, I tend to wear my espadrilles close to home - to the shops, to the cafe - and not into town. Some readers will consider even that inappropriate, seeing the shoe as suitable only for home or holiday. But when other men are wearing flip-flops to get their coffee, an espadrille is significant step up.
I would even endorse others wearing them into their office, workspace, or wherever else they go on a working day. If everyone else is in shorts, T-shirts and sandals, then wearing linen trousers and espadrilles will look very good. Fit in, but aspire to better.
I don’t wear them into town because I tend to do a lot of walking, and espadrilles are not built for a day of pounding the streets. They are a strolling shoe.
So that’s where I wear them. Now how about brands, and value?
I’ve owned or tried a few: Zabbatigli, Castaner, Drake’s, La Portegna, Ralph Lauren and Anderson & Sheppard (above).
I loved Zabbatigli, which were made on Capri, but they’ve sadly gone out of business. They were most similar to the local product in Italy and Spain that was available in London.
Anderson & Sheppard still have a few models of Zabbatigli left, but most of their espadrilles are made in Spain, and sold under the A&S brand. These have a similar round-toed shape, and a thin rubber sole.
The point on which A&S stands apart is its range of colours, in suede and velvet. Unfortunately I don’t like the suede or velvet much, preferring the original canvas. But if you do, the selection is great.
Castaner (above) is a big Spanish maker, and does a huge number of styles for men and women. Trunk sell the classic model, plus a higher, laced one.
Personally I only like the former, which has a nice thin sole although a squarer toe than most of the other brands. It’s also a little higher in the vamp and heel than the A&S line.
No Man Walks Alone also has a few different models of Castaner, in the US.
My favourite at the moment, though, is Drake’s (below, and top). I can see how others wouldn’t like the style, as it is lower in the vamp and curved, rather than the traditional straight cut. It also has a seam running down the front.
But I like the curved shape, and don’t mind the seam. Particularly as you can hardly see it on the navy pair I have. The stitching around the sole is also noticeably smaller, running up less onto the upper.
Most importantly, they are also quite slim in shape, which I think makes them look a little bit smarter than the traditional, broad and round-toed model. Or indeed the square Castaner.
The Drake’s ones are pretty reasonable at £55.
Now I know everyone says this still is expensive, when the ones they bought on holiday were €10. But you’re not on holiday, you’re in London. These you’re looking at had to be flown in, put in a nice shop, and sold to you by nice people. Even if you’re buying them online, someone has to run, maintain and fulfil that online shop. And 20% of that price is VAT.
They’re also better made than the ones you got at the seaside. For a shoe you’ll happily wear for several years, it’s hard to argue with the value.
I struggle slightly more with the A&S ones that are £120 - although they do use suede, rather than canvas. And Castaner isn’t too bad at £85, with various little added details like a leather patch under your heel and a pull-tag on the back.
I have no idea how to justify the Ralph Lauren ones at £300, or indeed those from Gucci at £400 and Loro Piana at £455. They all have extras that you could point to, but not worth hundreds of pounds.
I don’t count brands such as Mulo (above), Tom’s and Rivieras as espadrilles, by the way.
The things that define an espadrille are the rope sole and the canvas. When you have neither of those, what you’re left with is a plimsoll: just a slip-on, elasticated shoe with a rubber sole.
And unfortunately, most of the style and elegance of an espadrille is lost too. For the amazing thing about an espadrille is how something so simple, light and comfortable can look elegant. I’m sure it’s the reason it caught on in the first place, and has lasted as a summer classic for so long.
A plimsoll has the additional risk of making a man look like a schoolboy. Which is already a danger in the summer, wearing a T-shirt and shorts.
I do have a pair in that style, from La Portenga, which I wore frequently and were very comfortable. But they’ve gradually been worn less and less for this reason.
The aspiration here is to look just a little - as much as possible - like James Mason (below). And that's not happening in a plimsoll.
A last question on espadrilles is colour. This isn’t easy, as the normal staples of light and dark-brown don’t work so well in canvas.
Navy is the default, and probably the most useful, but doesn’t go with everything.
The next best is probably a cream or natural canvas colour, but it will look dirty quickly. Olive is a decent option.
After that you’re left with strong colours or stripes. Fortunately, in the Summer you’re likely to be wearing pale-coloured trousers or shorts, both of which work with a larger range of shoe colours.
I wear a 43 in the Drake’s, a 9 in the Anderson & Sheppard, a 43 in La Portegna and am between a 43 and a 44 in Castaner.
As ever, Simon, an interesting read.
Growing up in the south of France in the 60’s, espies were like an outdoor slipper. Just a few Francs, they were what you wore as a default unless a degree of formality was required. But the point is they were very much something you wore in and around your locale. If we went into Nice for a day we would never have dreamt of going in our espies.
I suppose I have to accept that times have changed, but to me the notion of wearing them in a London suburb is hard to grasp. Like wearing plus fours to go shopping in Waitrose. And paying a lot for them seems alien too.
As to colour, it was a bit Henry Ford in my day; any colour you like, as long as its black. Not sure you could even get dark blue.
Thank you so much for this article. I have learned quite a bit about tailoring from your site and definitely am enjoying your observations on casual staples. I’ve had a number of espadrilles and my favorites are from Casa Hernanz in Madrid. They are an inexpensive handmade option and they have a charming storefront that tends to be crowded in the tourist season. It’s a bit chaotic and one traveler claimed the store had the worst customer service in the world. This person probably hasn’t traveled much and definitely has not spent much time in Spain. They make a handsome, functional, and thus far durable pair. And for the record, I found the attendants to be gracious. The gentleman helping me even thanked me for taking the time to learn Spanish.
Regarding sizing: what’s your regular shoe size? Drake’s says to size up but I heard from someone who sized down…
I was on size with the plain colours (43) but sized up with the stripes (44). I was perhaps a little between the two, and the striped material is a little stiffer
I wear a size 45 typically and the Drake’s size 45 was far too small for me. Unfortunately, they do not make a larger size, which I hope they correct next season. So, I agree about, sizing up a full size.
Drake’s say that the espadrilles come up a bit small. That would confirm Sam’s comment. To help with sizing, Simon, what size and width do you take in Crockett & Jones hand grade, my main shoe brand?
Please also comment on the width of Drake’s espadrilles, i.e. E, F or G. I am a wide fitting like DB below and it impossible to find espadrilles that fit. Mulo’s are a standard G fit but, at £110, they seem expensive for a “plimsoll” as you described them.
I wear 8.5E. I would say they are like an E, fairly narrow
The Drake’s ones are indeed a bit tight for me too (if you go for the same size as your normal dress shoes). It’s a bit of pain at first, but the canvas stretches out relatively quickly. The risk of sizing up is that they end up being too loose.
Hello Simon, I agree wholeheartedly – a wonderful summer staple that elevates an outfit so much more than trainers or flip-flops (I cringe writing that as we downunder call them – perhaps contentiously – “thongs”). Espadrilles are one of those garments that seem to elicit that confusion to the onlooker of “I know there’s something really good about that outfit but I can’t quite put my finger on it”. Looks cool, louche and is inexpensive – what’s not to like!
(BTW I endorse the Drakes recommendation).
Well today I learned, traditional espadrilles DO NOT like water.
I wonder, then, how they would react to people with very sweaty feet. Would wearing invisible socks do the trick, or would some perspiration inevitably reach the insole? What’s their threshold for moisture?
New knowledge does indeed lead to more questions, haha.
I’ve always found them fine with sweaty feet.
As I’m pinning down essentials for the climate i live in, that’s reassuring to know Simon. Thank you very much.
Question: you have a narrow heel, don’t you find it difficult to find any kind of casual slip-on shoe – including espadrilles – that will stay more or less on the heel? I’ve never really bothered to try them for that reason after my numerous failed attempts to get a boat shoe that would not fall off my feet after a few steps. Is any of the recommendations from the text particularly good in that regard? Of course I’m not expecting a laced-oxford kind of fit, just something I can wear at all.
None of them have a closer fit there, no – but as someone that has a narrow heel too, and a problem with loafers, it’s good if you can find one that is a close fit, but still comfortable. The Drake’s work like that for me, in the 43 in the plain colours
Thanks, I’ll try them then.
What size are you in normal shoes, Simon, so I can try work our my size?
Good morning Simon
Thanks for the helpful post on espadrilles – I was one of the people who asked for this when you mentioned them several weeks ago …
On a separate note, I have a question re buying bespoke second hand…
I’ve found a beautiful pre-owned jacket online and am thinking about buying it. Obviously it’s not a standard RTW size and – to be honest – sounds a little on the large size for me… It’s also quite expensive, even second-hand. That said, I do have a good tailor near me, so am tempted…
What do you think? Is this a recipe for disaster?
Thanks Greg, pleased it’s what you wanted.
I would certainly be careful about buying something like that. The fit will always be a little idiosyncratic with bespoke, and ideally it should be something you can try on for that reason. Online makes that harder.
My instinct would be to only get it if you think the measurements sound like a good fit. Then you can sort out small points later.
Hi Simon, thanks for the helpful response.
I’m sure you’re right – it just seemed like a good opportunity to acquire a jacket (by Smalto) without breaking the bank!
I hope that was the right choice. It is tempting to buy bespoke like that, but it’s hard to get a good fit.
Simon have you considered Huarache sandals as a casual summer shoe? The woven leather and closed toe make them elegant compared to the average sandal.
True, and I have considered them in the past, though never tried them. I would be afraid they look a little fussy too, though they do still look better than most sandals.
Other sandals I’ve tried are cordovan sliders (!) from Ludwig Reiter, which I couldn’t quite get used to.
And the Adret sandals, which unfortunately I think I picked the wrong size on, and are too tight as a result.
But most aim for the same thing, of covering more of the feet than a flip-flop, yet still being a lot cooler than even the lightest structured shoe.
So many (all?) espadrilles have rubber soles nowadays. This totally defeats the point of having air flowing around the soles cooling the feet. Modern espadrilles make my feet hot and sweaty. If anyone knows of where to buy proper, natural fit-for-purpose rope soled and canvas espadrilles, I’d love to know. I used to buy a cheap pair every couple of years, disposable yes, but they went on the compost heap so, so what?
The answer to your question is ropeysoles.com
Proper espadrilles, made in France, in the traditional way. Canvas, jute rope dabbed with a touch of melted rubber to glue the strands together. All for less than £15.00.
Nice recommendations, thanks Nick
Sadly, they are out of stock. This worried me too; “made from jute with a thin protective layer of rubber moulded to the underside.” I don’t want protection! I want a breathable sole! Are there any nil-rubber espadrilles out there?
All traditionally made espadrilles have a rubber component, but do not confuse this with a “rubber sole”. Think of this rubber more as a glue; it is melted and then effectively dabbled on in a way that binds the roping a little.
Hey Nick – not sure if it’s just missed out, but you don’t have that in this video showing how they’re made. The soles are just hand sewn together
If you look carefully and read their “step 4” you will see that traditionally rubber was used as glue to extend the life of the shoe. What Diego do today is actually attach a vulcanised rubber sole. Not the same at all really.
Thanks Nick. I’m not sure my old rope-soled ones had rubber in there either, but I guess it’s hard to tell.
Obviously rubber vs rope sole is a choice governed mostly by other things (for me anyway)
Thanks Patrick – have you tried them?
I have not. I’m shopping for some myself at the moment and I noticed that these may have met some of the requirements previous comments were looking for so I thought I’d throw them in as a suggestion. Simply another alternative if one should be so inclined.
I was about to purchase a pair of Castaner myself, but I’m not enamored with the squared off toe. I know these don’t necessarily meet the inexpensive/simple nature inherent in this type of item but I’m curious if anyone here has any experience with the Sunspel espadrille? I haven’t seen anything mentioned and at their price point I’d love to get some unbiased idea of what they’re like.
I picked up a pair of the Drake’s ones recently. Am I right in thinking that they’re effectively “ambidextrous”? The curve on the instep seems to be mirrored on the other side of the shoe. That curve on the outside of the shoe looks a little odd to my eye. But I’m coming round to the idea that for a casual shoe to pull on without much thought, it’s actually quite nice not to even have to think about which foot I’m pulling them onto!
Yes, there is not left and right. Although over time you might find they mould in the sole to the extent that they feel more comfortable one way round.
Excellent piece on a perennially underrated item of footwear for hot weather. While I’m not adverse to a good (although obviously a subjective measure) pair of sandals when appropriate, espadrilles just seem to have a certain coolness to them; maybe it’s the association with Miami Vice for those us of the relevant vintage!
I wish that I could like espadrilles but have always found them too femine and, dare I say, too French (like wearing a barret–fine for them, but not for this 50–ish North American).
Espadrilles are my go-to summer shoe, when everyone around me is in flip flops or huge, chunky, street wear basketball shoes. I typically rotate navy, olive, and maroon/burgundy which is a strong enough color to pair with green or brown trousers
A Spaniard commenting here agrees to your colour choices! One tend to accumulate them being cheap and now being offered with different vamps. Spadrilles seem the best compromise in hot weather keeping feet cool but not ugly like flip flops.
I’m a relative new comer to epsies but a full convert. All of mine have had the thin rubber sole you mention so had no crunch effect however I’m always amused how soft the world feels underfoot after walking on the rope for even a brief time.
I understand that I’m in london but even then paying £50+ feels excessive when Castaner are frequently on sale well below this and “higher quality” materials like suede feel fundamentaly against the principle.
I’ve got two pairs of Drake’s espadrilles. They’re comfy and convenient, but stylish. No surprise that my second pair was bought during lockdown.
When I was a young boy, the first thing we did at the seaside after we had dropped off the luggage, on our way to the beach, was to get everyone a pair of espadrilles.
They will always mean summer on the Riviera to me.
Good house shoes, too, for the summer.
Delon & Grant – quel flaneurs.
Cool from an era when that adjective stood for something.
I even notice that Gary is rocking a ‘PS’ neck square albeit I’m not sure I approve the socks with espadrilles !
All said, Simon is right. No thinking flaneur should be without a couple of pairs.
Have never been able to find EEE espadrilles. Any tips?
I agree that espadrilles have a beautiful simple elegance to them, of the kind of Talented mr ripley most here aspire to… but I just can’t get my head around the price , and this is the sole reason I have never bought. Even at £55, the cost of materials and manufacture must be under £1 (not that I know the cost of such things) and seems an unjustified price point.
Of all items, I just can not handle buying something with the markup vs simplicity of a pair of espadrilles.
Also- pretty sure Toms sell rope/canvas espadrilles that qualify? They also donate shoes to people who need them…
I think if you look at a traditional site that makes them Chris, like Diegos here, you can see the handmade rope sole and hand sewing that goes into them. Those aren’t mass machine-made products
Also, regarding wet rope hardening up- in my experience, it isn’t that the soles have hardened but rather they have swelled, and so they’ve lost their flexibility. Stuff them full of newspaper and let dry while lying on their sides.
Really? Thanks Hugh. Mine seemed to be stiff even months later after drying out fully. But I’ll try that next time
It depends on the sole, in my experience: specifically how tightly the ropes are packed together in the first place, and whether the rubber bit is a solid piece, or is just in the high friction areas which exposes the rope. Looser packed rope, plus a more exposed bottom will let it dry more effectively.
After a quick google on the name of the sole on the Drake’s espadrilles, I found that they are probably made by a brand called Diegos in spain. Their prices are lower than Drake’s and you give your money closer to the workers.
Thanks. It looks like Diegos has similar models in terms of the uppers, but the last/shape is a bit different, chunkier?
The quality of the sewing is similar to Drake’s though – much neater and better than all the much cheaper varieties.
I do like the idea of black too.
Diegos seems pretty fair value except their shipping which is absurdly expensive at £15 for one pair of espadrilles .
It depends rather who they’re using. Shipping with a courier from one country to another will nearly always cost around that.
An issue is that people are used to free shipping now – even if that’s just built into the price.
Manebi a Spanish brand also do a beautiful traditional espadrille. I love the summer / beach association of wearing them but I have to say the canvas falling off the heel and then walking on the canvas with no heel support bothers me after a while. Maybe I need to practice wearing them more or just relax and accept that it’s part of their appeal….
Thanks Thomas, I’d forgotten about Manebi. Have you tried them? They seem fairly expensive, starting at £87.
I rarely wear them with the heel down – just if you’re wearing them more as a slipper, and then of course some regular slippers and sliders are like that
Ralph Lauren’s espadrille is 50% on their site right now FYI readers
Zabbatigli, handmade in Capri, were a way to make an old and popular tradition survive.
Maybe they had the same spanish origin, then they lived a great live in Capri from 50ies till late 80ies.
It was a traditional handcraft.
I remember a friend of mine buying them evey year in Anacapri, in via Trieste e Trento, you could find lemon liquor beside canvas -popular- shoes.
A long time stop and then we found them in very chic stores.
Now newly disappear.
Great overview about the different types of espadrilles. I just had to order some from Diego in northern Spain.
Last year I bought a pair of Furlane slipper in Venice from Pied a Terre, handmade and the sole is made from used cycle tubes. Maybe worth to take a glance…
Yes Simon I bought a pair of Manebi last summer. I don’t have other brands to compare them with but I think they are very well made with excellent materials,
Great, thanks Thomas
I’ve found some French espadrilles, with rope soles, that are sold by a Dorset company for only £12. See http://ropeysoles.com/mens.php. – could be worth a punt at that price? The prices that the big brand names are asking are just ridiculous.
Thanks Kenny – they were mentioned above in the comments as well.
I’d be interested to know what someone thinks when they get them. The make looks a little ropey (no pun intended) compared to the nice handsewn work on the Diegos ones also linked to above, for example.
I had missed that comment and agree with your comparison. Naturally, the difference in quality is reflected in the price. I’m thinking of getting an olive pair from Drake’s or a pair of Zabbatiglis from A&S.
The Ropey Soles would be a cheap option for going shopping, popping down to the beach or just around the pool. I would not wish to trash a pair of Zabbatiglis.
I’ve had both the Diego’s and the RopeySoles. I found the Diego’s to have both better stitching and shape, especially in the heel.
espadrij (handmade in FR) has a great range of colours & sizes on offer and prices are most reasonable
My experience with espys is that, should you get caught in a summertime downpour (a not uncommon event), the rope sole of the espys will never dry and they will eventually end up in the bin. I therefore suggest that anyone who spends more than $20 (equivalent) on a pair either had too much money or needs his head read.
To be honest, Michael, having seen the work that can go in to them, I’m happy to spend that. I just won’t wear them out if there’s a chance of rain
If you hang them by the heel on a place with enough air flow THEY WILL DRY in like 2 days, even faster if it’s hot or in the sun, but you have to hang them.
They’ll feel a little stiff for a few minutes when you wear them again but they’ll soften again.
You can even wash them!
All this of course assuming they aren’t made of leather.
Great article Simon, for those who would like to buy espadrilles in Spain, online you may find them under the name alpargatas . Google them and you will find many great shops. for example
Have a great summer!,
First of all, thank you for your article, Mr. Crompton. My name is Miguel Ángel, I am Spanish (from Barcelona) and I adore this type of slipper as an indispensable shoe for the summer months.
As a curiosity, comment that in Spain, in general, we call them “alpargatas” and in Catalonia (and other Catalan-speaking regions of Spain) they are known as “espardenyes”.
These espadrilles have traditionally been marketed in plain colors but for years it has been common to find them with striped patterns, in wonderful color combinations.
During some of my trips I have had the opportunity to buy beautiful espadrilles in towns such as Biarritz, Saint-Jean-Pied-de-Port, Bayonne and, of course, in my city, Barcelona, where there is an old shop that since 1940 still manufactures them in an absolutely artisanal way (La manual alpargatera*).
* I would like to comment that after ordering a Regatta Blazer from my tailor, I asked this manufacturer to make me a pair of espadrilles with the same striped fabric as the jacket (Scabal). I had to have patience for the wait but it was worth it. I don’t think Gucci or Ralph Lauren is capable of doing that for a client.
One last tip, how about wearing espadrilles with a Navy Blazer and chinos? I have even worn them combined with an original US Army shirt with patches and shorts.
Finally, although I respect that everyone uses their freedom and spends money as they wish, I would bet on genuine and artisan brands, and would leave aside luxury brands whose prices, at least from my point of view, are absolutely unwarranted.
Best Regards and thank you again.
Fully agree with your post.
I´m a loyal client of La Manual Alpargatera and, just a coincidence, last year got from them a special pair made out of a beautiful cloth I found in Trujillo.
My other two suppliers are Calzados Lobo and Pare Gabia.
As you, I prefer to get them from traditional artisans. My father´s family is from Autol, a small village close to Arnedo, and remember the summers helping my grandmather and her friends to prepare the material for the espadrilles. Would love to maintain it.
Simon thank you for this interesting article.
Zabattigli were the only handmade espadrilles were a shoe last was used when attaching the upper canvas. This resulted in a better fit.
In addition its jute rope sole had no rubber and was therefore not heated nor machine-pressed, which kept the fibres of the jute intact. This allowed the jute sole to breath and mould itself to the form of the foot.
Sadly this brand is no longer around. I cherish my last pairs.
Thanks Henri, I didn’t realise that about being made around a shoe last. To be honest, I didn’t notice a difference with mine, but that might have been because my feet weren’t that hard to fit to them.
On the soles, presumably you get this with any espadrilles that don’t have rubber soles?
Indeed Simon. Vulcanising rubber at high temperature destroys the fibres of the sole. In addition the pressing that is applied in the process increases the density of the jute so much that it doesn’t allow for breathing. This is the case for all espadrilles with vulcanised rubber soles.
Broadening the historical context and diversifying the associations for the sake of added nuance and cultural interest, just a bit:
What you first encountered in Spain at 19 was the ‘alpargata’, not properly speaking the French counterpart ‘espadrille’. Before being recast as leisure / resort footwear mid-20c, the alpargata was the workaday shoe of rural Spain. For both women and men, more often than not, it featured the straps entwining ankles and calves as Miss Kelly sports in the photo you show. During the late 19c and early 20c Havana (along with Buenos Aires, and to a lesser extent Mexico City) was the most prosperous and booming focus of immigration within the Spanish-speaking world, much as New York, Chicago, etc. were for Europe more widely. This was all well ‘before my time’ to be sure, but growing up in Cuba in the decade immediately before the, so called, ‘revolution’, I heard many an account from elders of those times, who would describe how the recently-arrived Spanish immigrants could be identified as they coursed through the city, by their alpargatas and frequently accompanying ‘corduroy’ pants— this in a setting then characterized by white linen suits, straw boater hats and spit-polished leather brogues.
Thank you for the article Simon.
I was already thinking of going for a nice first pair of espadrilles this summer. I was wondering if you could elaborate a little more on why you think brown wouldn’t work for espadrilles? Is it too reminiscent of a leather loafer?
I’m trying to decide between light brown and navy for an ideal first pair….. navy just seems a little too similar to the blue canvas shoe I use for most of summer, and maybe a little too safe and dark for summery slipper?
I find navy works well actually, and not too dark. But navy isn’t the best with all colours.
I guess dark brown would be good too – to be honest I haven’t seen many in that colour, and I think it’s partly because stronger colours suit canvas more?
Espadrilles should be cheap, unpretentious and not last long. A designer espadrille is a contradiction. Maybe ropeysoles, maybe a French market if you get there. I can’t see wearing espadrilles in England in the street. They are for hot, Mediterranean climates in the summer and maybe could be used for beachwear elsewhere. Sorry to be pedantic and didactic.
I love the look of espadrilles, but I have yet to find a pair that fits, they all keep slipping off the heel after only a few steps. I’ve tried sizing down, standard size and sizing up but the same issue remains, so I’ve pretty much given up on them.
Simon, I’m going off topic here. Just replaced my Casterners which I can vouch for, but decided to be a bit more adventurous in this strangest of Summers with a few leather slippers. I searched the topics here and nothing appeared, and for leather sandals, ditto. Do you have anything against these two types of footwear? They are quite popular in the tropics and the continent.
I’ve covered leather and suede slippers on here, mostly the Sagans from Baudoin & Lange.
Leather sandals I don’t much like though, no. Hence the recommendation of espadrilles instead. Also, look out for today’s post on summer footwear in general
how are your new Espadrillas from Diegos in terms of sizing compared to Drakes? I am asking, because I had to return the one from drakes – they were my size in terms of length but too tight in the width…
The width is the same – pretty narrow. So I don’t think that will help you.
To be honest, the only thing I found with the Diegos in terms of sizing was inconsistency. I bought black and cream, and the cream 43 fit like the Drake’s, while the black was rather tighter (despite being the same material)
How does the Drake’s espadrille sizing compare to for example EG (82 last) or Converse All Stars? Thanks in advance!
Converse I’m a 9, EG I’m an 8.5, Drake’s I’m between a 43 and a 44
Simon, do you ever wear invisible socks with espadrilles? Say, if you expected to wear them for a long chunk of the day, or walking around on holiday? Or does it completely defeat the point of them?
Completely defeats the point, I think.
I don’t think they would be any more comfortable with them either, to be honest
Hello Mr. Crompton.
I would like to share with you my favourite espadrille brand. Is humble and family owned from the region of La Rioja, best known by the wine.
In my experience their “alpargatas” are the best in terms of quality and price: http://www.alpargatassesma.es
My father and I use to wear since ages and it may be at the same level of Castañer (just two pieces of cotton herringbone fabric, rubber soles, inner sole) but Sesma espadrilles are about 12-15€, no more than 10 GBP.
Hope you find the info interesting and thank you very much for your blog!
Great, thank you PMF
Hi simon what kind of shoes do you wear to walk for long distances on a day out in town? I don’t find any gyw shoe or even unstructured ones such as sagans to be comfortable enough for that.
Not all, but quite a few of my Goodyear shoes are comfortable enough for that. They’re usually derbys, like my unlined suede Dovers.
Just picked uP a pair of Castañers with the intention of wearing them on a boat outing. The little booklet that comes with them is pretty emphatic about not getting them wet. Thoughts? Any other alternatives to a traditional deck shoe?
Yes, rope is not really designed for getting wet like that.
I’d say deck shoe, or any other canvas trainer. That’s quite a variety of shapes and colours
just a little note on a recent experience, as I assume this article will be getting plenty of views again with the summer upon us:
Recently purchased the Drakes espadrilles and went with the advices on the website (and everywhere else) to size up. I’m usually a very standard 43 (9.5e in all English dress shoes) so sized up to a 44. When this arrived it was definitely far too large but, to my surprise, the replacement 43 which just arrived is still too large!
So I will be settling finally on a 42 which I hope will work fine. first time I’ve ever sized down on shoes, and stranger when there seems to such a unanimous view towards sizing up on this particular shoe!
Possibly Drake’s supplier have changed their sizing for this season?
Just thought I would let everyone know anyway- possibly worth popping in to try them on first if you are London (I am, and now I wish I did!)
Thanks Eoghan, very helpful. Cheers for keeping us updated
I’m with Eoghan on this revised sizing. I’m also generally a 43/44 in dress shoes but the latest season Drake’s are a much larger fit. I also ended up with 42 (the only 42s in my wardrobe!). Drake’s website now notes to size down. Also they are now shaped differently for each foot, so not interchangeable right/left.
I was a bit surprised to read that Drake’s were going for £55. Expensive, but not terribly so versus the standard Tom’s. I checked, and indeed Drake’s is selling them for £75 this year. Nice 36% year on year price hike, which I feel is quite off putting for such a simple shoe.
Hmm, thanks Giorgio.
Still perhaps decent value given how much wear I get out of them, and I don’t think there’s another retailer in London doing that make, but it is a lot for an espadrille.
Drake’s has been doing this for all their products. The cashmere shawl collar cardigan jumper 30% in price within one year. I find that extremely off putting. Hard to see it as anything other than a cash grab.
Without defending the price or its value at all, what exactly do you mean by a cash grab? Trying to maximise profits?
I would put it as trying to maximize profit without regard for the underlying value of the product. I should make it clear that I generally love Drake’s, have consistently bought from them (including 2 cashmere shawl collar cardigans) and fully understand what they and their design add to the menswear space. Even so, a 30% price jump on an item that has not changed at all, which is sold by other Lockie retailers at the old Drake’s price or below, makes very little sense to me.
Interesting points. If you’re maximising profit, I guess the value of the product doesn’t really make much difference, as in the pure value of manufacturing quality and design time. If you’re maximising profit, that drives everything else. You’re charging the most you think a customer will pay, presuming you can’t make more by selling a greater volume at a lower price.
The second point is probably the most interesting. Because even though you’re aware of what Drake’s adds, you’re comparing the product to another brand that adds none of that. No shops, no style etc. Don’t you think it’s just never helpful to include that comparison? Otherwise any higher price will always seem like too much?
Appreciate the thoughtful reply, Simon. I concur with you on the first point – I realize now that cash grab and maximizing profits are not what I wanted to convey. Perhaps the below will make it clearer.
As to the second point, I only included the comparison to other Lockie retailers to make the point that Lockie wholesale prices likely haven’t changed, or if they have, then most other Lockie retailers decided to eat that extra cost, which seems unlikely. I also did not say that those other retailers of which I spoke did not add anything and I am not sure why you jumped to that conclusion. I was thinking specifically of The Armoury, whose value-add I think is without question, but where prices for the same Lockie cashmere cardigan did not jump by 30% within one year. The most interesting comparison, I think, is to Drake’s itself, a year or more ago. Are they adding something that wasn’t there before in terms of the product, or the design, or styling or service? It does not seem so, and so such price increase seems unjustified, particularly when other similar brands (Armoury) have not done so.
Drake’s is of course free to set whatever pricing works for them, and I appreciate that their business model is different from The Armoury’s and other stores. If they find customers willing to pay it, all the more power to then. But for customers who, like me, have shopped there since the beggining of their expansion into a full-blown retailer, and who always appreciated Drake’s price to quality ratio, it is just regrettable that they seem to be pursuing a pricing structure that now appears more in line with fashion brands.
Put differently, I want their product. But I feel like I’m being had when they charge 30% more for the same item (applicable not only to the Lockie cardigan, but also to many other products within their range, including their chore coats), sold on the same store by the same staff, with the same imagery/styling. Don’t you agree?
Well put, and firstly yes you’re right, I think I misunderstood on the retailers point – I thought you meant people selling just online as a Lockie product, rather than someone like The Armoury that is a much closer comparison given their costs etc.
I’m not sure we can reach some of your conclusions though. Just because a brand is selling at one price one season, it doesn’t mean that’s a good price for them – as in, one that covers their costs and makes some profit. They may have miscalculated, particularly if their business is changing (as the Drakes one has) and it takes a while to understand all of the costs of this.
It’s easy to be very cynical, and think that brands sit around asking ‘what’s the maximum we can charge for this?’ ‘what’s the most we can get away with?’
In my experience, that’s very rarely the case. It does happen, but usually only with bigger, more corporate, less product-led companies.
What’s much more common, is that a company’s costs change because it decides to do something different. It spends more on rent, on shoots, on advertising, on designing, on a marketing agency. On simply having more product that goes to waste, or has to go on sale, because they’re offering a much bigger range, or experimenting in new categories they don’t know so well.
Prices more commonly go up because of these types of changes, and that does mean that the company is not the one you used to know, which I agree, is a shame. It might be better thought of as a fashion-type company, as you say.
It can be easy to look at the product, and think that’s the same, so why are the prices higher? But hard as it is to think all the time, the product is only one part of the costs.
Your opinion on this espadrilles.
Is it worth buying?
What’s it made of Paul? It looks like the upper isn’t the normal cotton?
It is converse
Hmm. Hard to say without seeing in person I’m afraid. Might well be nice
One last question. Would navy shirt look good with dark olive trouser?
Navy shirts are not easy, and usually better with a paler trouser, usually grey. But it could work yes. As ever, it’s just hard to say absolutely yes or no
Would navy espadrilles work with navy linen trousers?
Adding a post script having just bought a pair of Drakes espadrilles on the strength of this article. They are really nice and a good recommendation. However, they now fit true to size rather than the snug fit that many seem to have found in the past. I had ordered a 43 as I am usually a 42 but they were too big. The 42 fit well. Full marks to Drakes for phoning me to discuss my return – the helpful chap explained that they switched the style so that there is now a left and right espadrille rather than their all being the same, and in this process the sizing is now more accurate. Hopefully this intel will be helpful to anyone reading this article ahead of the summer holidays.
Thanks, that is very helpful
I am about to buy a navy version. You mention here navy does not go with some things. I would be interested to know what colors, for example, do not go with navy before I make a mistake.
I wouldn’t say it looks wrong, but it’s not quite as nice with colours that are remotely rich or warm, like a green or brown. But it’s still very useful
Thank you very much for the great answer. For example, I have a pair of summer pants/shorts in charcoal black. In that aspect, I’m unsure about the combination with navy espadrilles. If I read somewhere correctly, you also wear black espadrilles. Perhaps then black or green(?) is the safer choice for espadrilles.
I think black is a great choice, yes
Have you tried/thought of trying Chinese slippers (aka the kung fu shoe). I wore them for years as I was doing a lot of martial arts training, and so my wardrobe evolved around them. A good pair can be a great summer shoe (with shorts or linen pants). The black top and white band at the sole sandwiched with the narrow band of black rubber at the bottom makes them a little more formal than the espadrille’s rope sole. But the overall experience is similarly light and comfortable.
I still tend to wear them when walking to or from work, switching to leather shoes once I get there. I found them a little less of a style compromise than wearing sneakers, and they also helped me maintain foot strength as I’ve aged. Certainly not an option for everyone, but good testimony for the importance of working shoes like the espadrille that give the foot an opportunity to work into your weekly wardrobe.
Thanks Aaron, no I hadn’t, never even heard of them.
My initial feeling looking online is that they’re perhaps not as elegant as an espadrille? Even though there’s the black and white, the sole looks slimmer and more sporty.
Is that fair?
Hello Simon. I hope you doing well, spent and had a beautiful holiday with family 😎 I was looking at these from Drake’s https://www.drakes.com/off-white-herringbone-cotton-espadrilles to wear with my Nigel Cabourn’s Indigo Jeans 12oz and my Orslow Fatigue Trousers Olive 9oz in summers. I don’t like lace less shoes but I do quite like the relaxed appeal and style of Espadrilles with my choice of trousers mentioned above for summers. Let me if I’m thinking on the right path? Your thoughts on this one? Will they look nice and compliment my trousers mentioned above?
I think espadrilles are great, yes, as discussed in the piece. They are more a summer shoe, though, and quite casual, so won’t necessarily go with all the situations you want to wear them, or be suited to colder weather.
Also, the white colour will get dirty very quickly. Again, if it’s a casual beach shoe then not a problem, but it might not be what you want in other regards.
Yes I do get your points as you’ve mentioned above. I intend to wear it casually with my Jeans and Fatigues as I have the Anglo Italian desert boots in chocolate suede for summers and Alden Shell Cordovan colour 8 for winters as other options and covering all other situations. I would also change the colour to Olive rather than Off White to avoid and minimise it getting dirty more quickly. I personally wouldn’t enjoy wearing this shoe type dirty, that works best with a Doek canvas shoes in Ecru being dirty and beat up.
Go with olive or black then
Hello Simon. I’m looking at this pair from Castaner https://nomanwalksalone.com/products/army-green-cotton-herringbone-jaime-espadrilles-with-natural-sole. Let me know your thought?
It’s quite a bright green, I’d prefer something a little darker ideally
Thank you Simon for your inputs. Then the other options are the Navy one’s you own from Drake’s as their Green Herringbone Cotton Espadrilles (Olive) is in a light green colour. The other options I was looking at are these https://en.castaner.com/products/camping-canvas-negro-pablo-001 or in a Navy Blue colour, both are in dark colours. My only concerns is I’ll be wearing it with my Nigel Indigo Jeans and Orslow Fatigue Trousers Olive, hence an Olive Espadrille would have been a good contrast, darker Olive though as you’ve mentioned above. But I do think Black would make it really interesting with those above mentioned trousers as well. Please let me know Navy Blue or Black? Your thoughts?
I’d say try the black
Noted. I second that. 👍
Hello Simon. I’m looking at these https://diegos.com/collections/men/products/black-espardenya-for-men and https://diegos.com/collections/men/products/red-stripes-espadrilles-for-men. I actually liking this make and style. A friend of mine is coming from the USA, he’ll bring it for me. The former is a default black with canvas uppers and the soles are made of braided jute rope. The latter also has an canvas uppers but the soles are made of jute thread and recycled textile fibres (also adding some colours to my Espadrilles). This would be my first pairs of Espadrilles and I wanted to experience the two different types of soles on my feet on Espadrilles and how do they eventually wear and work over a period of time. I think this style of shoes are a step up from the regular canvas shoes that provides and has a lazy elegance, comfort and feel to it. It also tends to look the nicest when paired with Jeans in my personal opinion. Please let me know your thoughts?
Your reasoning makes sense Amit. Personally I’d just start with the black if you haven’t had espadrilles before, but that’s up to you
Thank you Simon 👍
Hi, this is Vincent from Maison LQ. Our espadrilles are handmade with love in the south of France. Our style is traditional, true to the authentic espadrilles. Please check out our website, I would love to get your thoughts!