We went to Spain to discover Castañer's factory and their iconic shoes
Have you ever wondered where the espadrilles? Typically summer footwear, light and handcrafted, it was invented two centuries ago by the fishermen of the Basque coast, or the northern part of Spain (from Biarritz, Saint Jean de Luz to San Sebastián).
Made of canvas, made of a woven natural fiber, they have become the most popular footwear in Spain over time.
When we talk about espadrilles we also talk about Castañer, a family business to which the success of the shoe is owed. Just this year the business turns 90 and for the occasion they invited us to Spain, to Banyoles precisely, to visit the factory and to discover the completely artisanal process behind their shoes.
Let's start from the beginning, it is 1927 when Luis Castañer and his cousin Tomas Serra they decide to open their local business in Girona, in the heart of Catalonia. The idea is to produce the typical shoes of the area, the alpargates, the local term for espadrilles.
They still don't know that their creations are destined to become "legend", worn by characters like Salvador Dali And Grace Kelly.
The real turning point came in the early 70s, when the popular footwear of the Basque country became the new cult of the catwalks. We are in 1972, Lorenzo Castañer (the second generation) and the wife Isabel meet in Paris Yves Saint Laurent and with him they create the first wedge models.
From that moment on, fashion officially opened the doors to a new variant of summer shoes.
In the special corner of the factory, the one dedicated to the most original finds and pieces, we find the names of the most diverse designers, from Manolo Blahnik to Chanel.
Today they are part of the team: Luis, Antonio, Rafael, Cristina and the children of Isabel and Lorenzo. The brand has also launched a winter collection (as well as models designed for brides) and every season the materials used change.
Unlike the machines, however, which are always the same since the beginning. Precisely those invented by Luis's cousin, a sign of a tradition that is in constant motion.