Slip into Summer with the Best Espadrilles for Men
Summer is not kind to men’s feet, nor is toe cleavage on men a pretty sight. In fact, except on the beach, we’d be fine if we never spotted another male toe. And the seasonal footwear options? Don’t get us started, but suffice it to say: Meh, at best. Enter the espadrille, that rope sole unisex style favored by creative luminaries such as Picasso and Hemingway. In Europe, the style is as common as the flip flop is here in America, and now it’s gaining popularity with regular guy folk stateside. With a slew of old and new brands offering more and more styles for guys, it’s time to ditch the flip flop and throw on a pair of espadrilles for a dose of Riviera cool.
Back in 2010, NY-based brand Soludos quietly launched with a small line of unisex espadrilles. Nick Brown, the brand’s founder, made a shoe based on the espadrilles that he wore growing up in Spain. Like traditional espadrilles, Soludos have a jute sole and stitched detailing, but Brown added a few features such as a padded sole to make the shoes more comfortable. Bringing together tradition and more modern fabrication, the shoes became a hit with Brown’s friends and family. Eventually, he began to sell his creations in small boutiques in the Soho neighborhood of NY, and today, he’s expanded his distribution to include online sales and stores on both coasts.
Soludos (which combines “sol,” meaning “sun” in Spanish, with “salud,” Spanish for “cheers!”) even caught the eye of a few big name retailers. J. Crew is carrying specific colorways in their collab and uber-trendy boutique Opening Ceremony commissioned Brown for unique creations using materials such seersucker, raffia and linen and patterns inspired by Morocco, Liberty prints for the ladies and a cork model that’s sure to earn a wait list of its own.
For more straight-laced guys, charitable label TOMS also integrates the traditional jute details of the espadrille in their Cordones model ($74).
American mainstay Ralph Lauren isn’t just about boat shoes and schooners. Ralph’s released a bright option for good ol’ American boys who want to add a bit of Riviera flavor to their clambake staples. The Bosworth Espadrille ($225) is one of the most practical of our picks because Lauren’s model opts out of the ropey jute sole and slaps on a rubber one, making this slip-on slip-resistant. He’s also swapped out fabric uppers for a more hardy suede, which ups the luxe factor (and the price tag). But unlike Saludos, which are designed to be like summertime, — fleeting and temporary — the Ralph espadrilles are lined with leather and made to last.
If roped soles are too rustic, but you don’t want to lose the resort-wear look, French brand Rivieras is an upgrade from flip-flops and skater-staple Vans. The slip-on style adds a dose of sartorial cred and post-war cool. Modeled after shoes worn in the ’50s in the Costa Blanca region of Spain, the French label kept all the Midcentury details in their updates but upgraded the materials to let feet breathe and make the shoes more comfortable on sand, boardwalks and cobblestones alike. Available in a rainbow of colors and a few different material options — woven and solids –, they go vintage without being completely out of date. They’ve also entered the collaboration game, producing a special edition with hip French hipster brand Surface to Air.
We say, make like Hemingway and go grab a pair. (Absinthe not included.)
Photos courtesy Soludos, Saks Fifth Avenue and Rivieras