Espardilles are traditional Spanish summer shoes. Most of them are made of cotton or other fabric and bottom that's made of flexible Esparto rope. Esparto rope bottom is the signifying element of Espardrilles. The shape and the fabric may vary.
Espadrilles have strong ties to Catalonia and Basque country. The name comes from Catalonian word "espardenya", referring to the esparto-grass, originally from South Spain, which used for making robes and baskets.
Originally peasant shoes has become popular through cultural figures like Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali and later John F. Kennedy and Yves Saint Laurent.
Original and true espardrilles has been handmade in South France and North Spain ever since 1200s. Real making of espardrilles is an art form that as vanished almost completely due to globalization. Diego's family is from one the last Spanish village, which still makes the espardrilles with the hundreds of years old traditional way.
José Luis, one of the villages most endearing characters, is the areas last traditional rope maker. His old spinning machines from 1930s bring roughness to the robe. All shoemakers in the area use his robe which is strong enough to make perfect shoe bottom but soft enough to make them comfortable to wear.
Vicente, shoe bottom maker, is well known for his skills and wide knowledge on creating espadrillos. He curls the robe into typical diamond shape, using manual phonograph. While sitting on alpargata chair, he sews the bottom together using sisal-yarn and oversized needle, to prevent it form unravelling.
Originally the shoe bottoms were made just by using the robe. In 40s they started using natural rubber to make the bottoms last longer. The rubber is added by melting vulcanized natural rubber in the metal form and pressing it to the robe bottom. This way glue or chemicals aren't needed.