In 2017, heritage Spanish footwear brand Castañer celebrates 90 years of crafting the world’s finest espadrilles. Although it was first established way back in 1776, it was in 1927 that the brand properly laid down the roots for what would go on to become a staple part of every European’s summer wardrobe. Back then, the humble espadrille was a national shoe in Spain perfect for tottering around during the country’s notoriously hot summers. Castañer swiftly transformed the espadrille into a worldwide player in the fashion world, striking up relationships and eventual collaborations with the likes of Yves Saint Laurent. The brand continues to hold a privileged position in the fashion world as the official espadrille maker for fashion labels including Chanel, Tom Ford and Hèrmes, among many others.
Alongside the brand’s ability to capture the fashion trends of the moment, Castañer has excelled in elevating the craftsmanship of the espadrille into something of an art form. Even today, each and every espadrille is created using a meticulous process during which each individual part of the shoe is made from scratch. AllSole takes a look at the art and craftsmanship behind the creation of Castañer’s famous espadrilles.
Step 1: Ideation and Design
Castañer’s team of designers conceptualise each collection with hand-drawn sketches inspired by new fashion trends and the brand’s rich archive of espadrilles which stretches back almost a century.
Step 2: Creating the Upper
Using a stencil created by using paper shaped around a last, the upper is precisely cut out of larger pieces of fabric or leather. The upper then begins to take shape as the craftsman smooths the edges of the fabric, stitches where necessary and adds perforations to the trim ready for the upper to be stitched to the sole unit later in the process.
Step 3: Weaving the Midsole
The jute for each midsole is created from fine pieces of rope that are weaved together using a machine built exactly for that purpose. This thicker jute rope is then put through a second, spinning machine that forces the jute to form the natural shape of the sole. The jute midsole is then compressed and passed through a third machine that stitches the unit so that is secure and durable.
Step 4: Completion of the Sole Unit
The jute midsole is then secured to the rubber outsole using a strong glue and a second compression machine.
Step 5: Combining the Sole and Upper
Each upper is individually stitched to the sole united by hand using a traditional sewing technique that offers a secure bind. This process gives the distinct stitching pattern you see just at the bottom of the upper on most espadrilles.
Step 6: Finishing Touches
Finally any finishing touches—such as an insole, any brand tabs or other smaller details—are applied and your espadrilles are beach-ready.
Discover the full process behind the making of Castañer’s espadrilles below.
Images property of Castañer.