In Other Shoes – Spanish Espadrilles

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Look familiar? Having become a popular design within fashion trends through recent years, most of us probably recognize these shoes as “espadrilles”. Lovely light summer shoes, however best in sunny weather, as the sole is prone to soak up puddles from rainy weather!

Here are Tuxen’s notes on the shoes, portraying his attempt to find out the original Spanish – or Catalonian? – name of them! In the times before Google, this proved quite a challenge:

“Espartenas” or “alpargatas”?

Given to me on November 8th 1957 by Mrs. Karin Høyer, who bought them a couple of weeks prior in Caldetas, a little South of Barcelona. The sole is apparently made from twine, probably jute or hemp. White upper fabric in the front, closing off the toes. In the back a more grey fabric strap. Blue cotton tapes artistically braided into the upper fabric and the back strap. Children’s shoes.

Whether their name, espartenas, is spelled correctly, I don’t know; the closest I have come to be sure is consulting a German lexicon from 1862. Here the word “Spartoschuhe” came up – I believe “sparto” to mean hemp? Or reed. And sparto grass is “stipa tenacissima” in latin – hence the “tena” in espartenas. However – now, on November 17th, Mr. Thorsøe tells me that these shoes, in the Caldeta province, are referred to as “alpargatas”. Our way of calling them “espadrillos” here at home is derived from the French word “espadrille” – I found this to be confirmed in my Larousse (encyclopedia, ed.).

Apparently finishing off his notes without coming to a final conclusion, we too are curious as to finding the original name of these Spanish shoes from Tuxen’s collection – does anyone have an idea? Feel free to post in the commentary below.

If you are also into shoes, you can read more about Tuxen’s collection in this post.

// Ciara Coogan


Photo: © 2007 Photo/Media Department of Moesgaard Museum.

Byline portrait: © 2015 Line Beck,

One thought on “In Other Shoes – Spanish Espadrilles”

  1. Pingback: In Other Shoes – Native Ecuadorian Shoes | ethnographica

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