The origin of espadrilles is lost in the mists of time. It's believed to be over 10,000 years old and it resides without a doubt in the countryside. People who worked the land needed comfortable shoes that would hold their feet tightly and espadrilles were perfect for that.
The esparto grass, rustic and hard, gave way over time to hemp, soft and gentle on the sole of the foot, ideal for stepping into the garden, climbing the rocks of a mountain or walking along the narrowest paths. It is a resistant and off-road shoe, but you have to know how to clean, conserve and maintain it. That is why we at La Manual Alpargatera have decided to share some tips to prolong their life.
In the past there were no washing machines. Today, a machine can save us time and effort to keep our espadrilles clean. First of all, make sure your espadrilles are sewn to the sole (and not glued with some kind of glue).
We normally only recommend washing flat and single wedge espadrilles. If so, go ahead. A short program with cold water, the ideal is to spin them several times to get as much water as possible to speed up drying and improve conservation.
To finish drying them, you can leave them in the open air, but be careful with the sun, which could dull their colour.
If your espadrilles have ribbons, make sure you use a mesh bag. From experience, we know that the ribbons could get into a hole in the washing machine and block the internal mechanism. To avoid this disaster, we recommend that you put them in a net bag to ensure that no ribbons are left loose.
Remember that the espadrilles with flat soles at 3 cm can be put in the washing machine, as long as they are sewn by hand.
Normally, espadrilles should be left a bit loose so that when you wash them you do not outgrow them, as they are made (or all of them or their lining) of cotton, this tends to shrink.
In the case of high-heeled espadrilles, you better not take any chances. They are usually two pieces stuck together with glue that, with the detergent and the movement of the washing machine, could soften and end up coming off.
The washing machine is also not the best solution for double-soled espadrilles for the same reason. We do not recommend it.
These are just some "tips", if you have any doubts you can contact us directly to give you better advice.
How to keep them and maintain them?
Espadrilles are made of natural plant fibers, so for good conservation, it is best to use them on dry soils. With water, the sole could become soaked and, with the weight of the body, it could end up deforming. If this happens, they should be washed as soon as possible.
If you do it by hand, you will have to be more careful, as it will be more difficult to get rid of the excess water, they will take longer to dry and they will be exposed to prolonged humidity, as any vegetable fibre, which could damage them.
If you decide to use the washing machine, it should be on a short programme and in cold water. In addition, as we have already mentioned, we recommend that you spin them several times and let them dry in the open air (remember that it is always better in the shade so that the sun does not change the colour of the canvas)
If for whatever reason you have no other options and finally decide to dry them in the sun, the soles should face upwards to protect the canvas from the sun's rays and to increase the speed of drying on the sole, as this is where most water accumulates.
It is important to protect your espadrilles from humidity, but also from the sun. The canvas of the espadrilles usually dries much earlier than the soles. This can be dangerous for your white espadrilles since they could be exposed to the sun for too long and get a yellowish shade (the longer the soles are soaked - infusing - the greater the chance of this happening, that is why we recommend a short wash with cold water).
To remedy this, once the sole is completely dry, you can pass a little lye (chlorine) reduced with water (50%) to return its white color. Never dry the lye in the sun!
Another trick or help is to put newspaper inside our espadrilles. This absorbs excess water while preventing them from losing their shape.
Don't just wash them, pamper them. In La Manual Alpargatera we defend the craft. We believe that doing things with our own hands brings value and a unique personal touch. We encourage you to make your own cotton or linen bags filled with your favourite fragrance. Your espadrilles could smell of lavender, rosemary, fennel or even dried roses.
Cut a small piece of fabric you want into a square. Fill the center with your favorite aromatic herb or dried flower petals. Finally, tie the fabric with a ribbon and put them inside your espadrilles.
If you don't have that much time, you can replace these bags with natural and organic essential oils, ideal to personalize the smell of your espadrilles. It is as easy as applying a few drops on a piece of fabric and leaving it inside the espadrilles while they rest, thus avoiding oiling the jute. Besides, these oils will also improve the health of your feet.
We recommend using quality essences that you know of, to avoid intolerance. It can be any essence that suits you, tea tree, lemon, rosemary or orange blossom, to name a few examples...
These little tricks will be perfect for the arrival of the cold autumn or winter. When you have to store your espadrilles for the next season or for some other reason you have to keep them for a long time, remember that your best option is to place them in a cardboard box, away from humidity, next to a small aromatic bag or a little bit of your favorite essence. That way, when you want to get them back, they will be waiting for you in perfect condition and incredibly scented.
The best thing about a espadrille is the comfort it provides. In recent years we have seen a growing demand for insoles and foam to be added to this type of footwear, to feel the soft sole from the very first moment. However, jute is a material that becomes more comfortable as time goes by and therefore does not need any accessories if we have a little patience.
In fact, walking barefoot on jute is a bit like walking on the sand at the beach. Learning to enjoy espadrilles "au naturel", as they are, will help us to benefit more from their advantages.