Espadrilles are traditionally sandals with canvas uppers and a sole made from esparto rope. Originally worn by dock workers in Spain and France, the shoes have developed significantly over the years. The canvas upper has been retained and expanded upon (you can now find lace-up espadrilles, for example), and the soles are now made from jute.
Their end use has gone from labor to leisure, too. They’re beach shoes.
Founded by Dutch brothers Joris and Philip Hetterschijt in 2015, Aurélien focuses on producing luxury footwear at an affordable price thanks to a direct-to-consumer approach.
Although best known for its elegant driving shoes, the brand also manufactures stunning espadrilles. Crafted in Portugal, they feature the hallmark traditionally braided jute soles.
However, what sets them apart is Aurélien’s proprietary “Softey” calfskin uppers. This suede is exclusively produced from French calves and then naturally tanned in Italy. A unique and durable oil application results in a distinctive softness that’s smooth and comfortable against the feet.
By combining a moccasin design with the espadrilles construction, Aurélien offers an elegant alternative to a classically rustic shoe.
A relatively young shoe brand, Velasca’s goal is to bring traditional Italian shoemaking techniques and expertise to the forefront, and most importantly, to do so at an accessible price. The Inguriatt canvas espadrilles are just another example of how successful they’ve been.
Crafted from 100% cotton canvas, the upper is handsewn to the rope/rubber outsole with the Ojal stitching method. This results in a classic espadrille shoe that is sure to last more than just through the summer. Velasca also offers a number of enticing suede calf leather options, but canvas is the go-to if you’re aiming for the traditional espadrille look.
Named after Spanish surrealist painter Salvador Dali, who was known to wear a pair of espadrilles himself, the Original Dali is Soludos’ signature shoe and embodies the traditional style of the espadrille.
These classic espadrilles feature a canvas upper that is available in a Natural Beige color (see above), as well as Navy Blue, Charcoal Gray and Black. If you’re looking for your first pair of espadrilles then we’d recommend going with beige and pairing them with some lightweight chino pants or shorts for a casual summer look.
Sea Star Beachwear has produced a water-friendly espadrille that is ideal for days at the beach. The neoprene upper dries quickly after being wet and helps regulate the temperature for you feet.
Meanwhile, protective rubber soles means that these espadrilles can also be worn in the water to prevent injury from rocks or similar. The braided cord on the sides will also be able to take well to water but may show wear after a while.
The Soludos Smoking Slipper is another quintessential summer shoe with a slip-on design. This particular pair features a spritz-themed embroidery on the upper which is perfect for laid-back summer occasions.
Soludos also makes these in plenty of other fun summer-inspired designs, such as negronis, martinis, and beer. Perfect for the bachelor chilling by the pool!
Made with a woven textile upper, the ALDO Kianou offers not only a unique look from the other men’s espadrilles on this list, it’s also a more affordable option. While not of the same quality as the others, they’re still very pleasant to wear. The braided cord has been reinforced by a thick rubber outsole, which will offer plenty of traction.
TOMS Deconstructed Alpagarta Rope is another well-made espadrille shoe from TOMS with tons of versatility. These comfortable slip-on espadrilles are available in several canvas colors including the Black Washed Canvas shown above, as well as navy blue suede and mid-brown suede options.
Overall they’re a great casual footwear option during the warmer months and can even be paired with jeans or chinos for a more stylish look on a cool summer’s eve.
We introduced Italian shoe brand Velasca above, and with these Cavagnin, we highlight how a shoemaker that usually relies on traditional designs is nevertheless able to innovate on the same and produce an exciting design.
With the Cavagnin, Velasca fuses the classic suede penny loafer style with a jute & rubber outsole for a formal twist on the espadrille theme. The same premium materials are implemented here, as shown by the svelte suede uppers, which are available in a number of different colors. In our opinion, this blue-green tone, slightly reminiscent of the crystalline waters of the Mediterranean country, is the best, but all are sure to please.
Espadrille History, Or “Those Are Men’s Shoes?”
It’s no secret that espadrilles have become ubiquitous in the women’s fashion world. As a good-looking, comfortable alternative to a sneaker, it’s an incredibly popular shoe for women. The ladies can get them in any version imaginable, from wedges to strappy sandals.
Their history, however, puts them on the feet of men. Dating back as early as the 14th century, these shoes were worn by dock workers in the Pyrenees region of France and Spain. In fact, the etymology of the word espadrille is based on the material from which the soles were made: esparto rope. Here’s the briefest foreign language lesson you’ll ever receive:
Catalán (language native to the Catalonia region of Spain): espardenya
One of the oldest pair of shoes ever discovered was a pair of flip-flops made from esparto rope.
Though they saw their beginnings as shoes for dock workers and then urban laborers, espadrilles are now considered classic beach wear. Many Spaniards (men and women alike) wear them in the spring and summer months around town, and Tom’s has a version whose popularity has skyrocketed in the U.S. in recent years.
Velasca Green Canvas Espadrilles With Chinos
How To Wear Espadrilles
Espadrilles are relatively unstructured and thus should be worn casually. No suits, no dress trousers, and certainly no evening wear. The only exceptions we can think of are two-fold:
You’re getting married on the beach and are wearing a linen suit with no tie.
Don’t wear socks with espadrilles. This defeats the purpose entirely.
Casual shoes are often best paired with casual outfits. Espadrilles work particularly well with:
Bathing trunks and other beach wear
Casual trousers (perhaps for an outdoor brunch outing in the summertime)
As you’ve probably deduced, the espadrille is not a shoe that plays nicely with temperatures that dip below 75 degrees. Here’s our season-by-season breakdown with color suggestions:
Spring: If it’s a warm enough spring day, try these in a beige, grey, or denim-y blue
Summer: Try any color available, have some fun
Winter: You are pretty much begging the universe for frostbite if you choose to wear espadrilles in the winter
Espadrilles Versus Flip-Flops
These shoes can be a tough sell for some men. When most guys think summer shoes, they think of the flip-flops they’ve owned for years but will simply not get rid of. They’re comfortable and the epitome of easygoing. We understand.
Espadrilles succeed in a place where flip-flops can fail, however: city wear. Many arguments are made against wearing flip-flops in town, not the least of which is a lot of folks’ revulsion at seeing men’s nearly-bare feet in public. Whether or not this revulsion is well-deserved is a discussion for another place and time, but know that it exists and it makes a strong case for espadrilles.
If you have feet that are perhaps a bit unsightly, espadrilles are a lifesaver in the summer months. Lighter than a regular shoe, they’re easier to wear in sweltering heat. Offering more coverage than flip-flops, your toe fungus will go unnoticed.
*Editor’s Note:* Do something about that toe fungus, man. It’s a medical issue.
Finally, espadrilles can actually be worn like flip-flops by simply folding the quarters down. This is a particularly popular look in the South of France, where people often wear espadrilles as alternatives to slippers.
To Own Or Not To Own?
Espadrilles are not a shoe we’d recommend for most guys who are beginning to build their shoe wardrobes. It’s not terribly versatile and can’t be worn to most offices.
Not everyone fits into that mold, however. If you live in a mild or hot climate (the American South or Southwest, Southern Europe, Southeast Asia, etc.), an espadrille could be a great everyday, knock-around shoe. They’re quite inexpensive relative to other shoe styles, and they’ll lend your outfit a smart look when the weather is right.
If it’s your tenth shoe to buy or if you live somewhere that’s warm all the time, you should own an espadrille.