Jute

Espadrilles and ComfortThe Jute is a plant which comes from the Bengal Gulf and is brought to Europe in 1790 to be used as a fibre in the manufacturing of ropes.

It is soon used in the hand-craft manufacture of slippers, more commonly known as espadrilles among the peasants, and it becomes a comfortable shoe for the daily work in the fields.

During the Civil War, the army includes in its uniforms the Jute espadrilles for its soldiers, mainly due to the comfort whilst walking in the battle grounds. The war left a lot of poverty in the country and the Jute got in the shoe market in the 1940s and 1950s due to its low cost. It becomes the only accessible shoe for a ruined country due to a cruel war. But at the end of the 1950s a lot of peasants change their rural life for the urban working life and substitute the comfortable Jute espadrilles for the robust leather boots and rubber soles for the industries, which offer a higher security for their work. The Jute market is reduced due to the migration of peasants to industry work, and many Jute shoe factories are obliged to close down, leaving the craftsmen and women to continue their work in their own houses, making the Jute shoes a typical Spanish handcraft product that tourists soon discover.

The Jute becomes a star product for the tourists in the 1970s and some companies quickly start looking for new markets abroad, exporting Jute shoes to France in that French May which gets in fashion among the hippy girls of that time.

Actors and intellectuals in the international scene find out about the Jute shoes, a circumstance which interests the prestigious designers and include these in their high fashion collections and a new fashion emerges; the design of new models change the course of shoes. It goes from being a product used only by peasants to an expensive article designed by designers who look at the typical espadrilles and convert them into laborious seems and shapes. This has its effects on higher prices, more work, and more expensive shoes directed to another type of market. The Jute then re-emerges when it seemed doomed to disappear. Sales are increased in the international market. Then big Spanish brands see this product in the international market and get interested in including them in the national collections shoes and complements made of Jute.

We pass on from having and old product which hadn’t been practically changed since Roman times neither in its traditional form of manufacturing nor in its shapes, to having a new product with new shapes and a new market. It makes use of original materials for the manufacturing of a total new concept of shoes.