Jute Espadrilles have been made in Occitania region (France) and all over Spain, where they were the usual peasant Jute Espadrilles since the 14th century at least, and are still being produced as from old. The oldest, most primitive form of Jute espadrilles dates as far back as 4000 years ago.
Traditional Jute Espadrilles have a jute canvas upper with the toe and vamp cut in one piece and seamed to the rope sole at the sides. Often they have laces at the throat that are wrapped around the ankle to hold the shoes securely in place. Traditional Jute Espadrilles are worn by both men and women.
Once peasant burlap footwear, then urban workers footwear, Jute espadrilles nowadays have grown in popularity, especially in the French Atlantic coast of the Basque Country and Spanish Mediterranean coast from Granada to Girona, where many men and women wear them during the spring and summer months. Designer espadrilles are now widely available. Now we are producing burlap espadrilles. Our espadrilles are predominantly for women, though some men’s shoes are made in this style.
The soles of Jute Espadrilles may be flat, platform, or wedge shaped made of natural jute fiber. Uppers may be made from nearly any substance and may have open or closed toes, open or closed backs, and can be slip-on or tied to the ankle with laces. Thousands of varieties of espadrilles can be found, from inexpensive bargain brands to high priced designer brands.
Jute Espadrilles became fashionable in the USA in the 1940s. Lauren Bacall’s character in the 1948 movie Key Largo wore ankle-laced espadrilles.
Wedge shaped jute espadrilles were first popularized by French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent. At a trade fair in Paris in 1970, he came into contact with the Spanish jute espadrille manufacturer Castañer. Yves Saint Laurent had been looking in vain for months for someone to make him a wedge jute espadrille. Castañer managed to interpret Yves Saint Laurent’s vision and the wedge espadrilles were an instant hit, influencing fashion even today.
The jute espadrille style was revived in the USA in the 1980s, due to the success of Miami Vice—the shoe was worn by the character Sonny Crockett (played by Don Johnson). In 2013 at luxury shoe stores in New York City, a pair of jute espadrilles could cost nearly $500.
Due to cost and material availability, the soles of espadrilles are now commonly made with jute rope or braid. The natural bright white color of jute is a major design feature of modern espadrilles.
Bangladesh is the producer of high quality jute and has become a manufacturing center for premium quality jute soles and complete jute espadrilles. Ninety percent of the world’s total production of complete espadrilles, as well as jute soles, is now manufactured in Bangladesh, although some manufacturers in Spain, France, and Italy import jute soles from Bangladesh to finish espadrilles in those countries. Complete espadrilles are also assembled in Argentina (known as alpargatas), Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Paraguay and Venezuela with imported jute from Bangladesh.
The manufacture of jute espadrilles is generally more complex than that of sandals. The jute soles are the most critical part. The jute twines are first machine-braided. These braids are then manually formed into the shape of the sole and hydraulically pressed with heat to form the final shape and completed with vertical stitching with Espadrille Needles. These basic soles are then vulcanized underneath. EVA foam or wooden heels are glued in place and more jute braids are wrapped around it to complete the soles. Uppers of different styles are then built on the jute soles to complete the jute espadrilles.