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Saturday, April 17, 2010

French Lesson: Espadrilles, Redux

Posted by Marjorie Skinner on Sat, Apr 17, 2010 at 2:04 PM

As mentioned, I'm fixated on espadrilles as the weather continues to improve. May Juliette Barruel of Nationale gave me the scoop on her stock, due to arrive at the end of this month (they are shipped to the US from France by her mom!), as well as an informative lowdown on France's regional specialties:

Colors coming are bright red, navy blue, denim, dark brown, light brown, and I still have a few pairs from last year in stock, denim, brown, and striped. These are traditional "Espadrille de France", with rope insoles and rubber covering the bottom, which makes them last longer than just rope bottoms ($36). Espadrilles were traditionally made in the southwest region of the Pyrénées. This little town used to have thousands of people working in the industry. When it was hit by the competition coming from India and Bangladesh, they couldn't really stand up to it and there are only six factories remaining, with about 100 workers now. The town has lost half of its population because of it, and most of its youth. However they have chosen to bet on the quality versus quantity, traditional methods, and the situation is slowly coming back up in the last few years, with the newly fashionable "chic peasant" look!!! France is very regional like that, and so different regions have different specialties. Marseille has always been known for soap and pastis, Pyrénées for espadrilles, Grasse (near Nice) for perfume, flower essence (the factory making the rose water and orange blossom water I used to carry closed this year after decades of producing these specialties). Anyway. There are only a few factories remaining making these espadrilles and the traditional soaps, but it seems that this recent trend of going back to simple, well made products is going to allow them all to stay in business.

Even if you don't speak French (I don't), check out this espadrille-filled video on the matter. Ditto this mesmerizing look at where the Marseille soap I use every day comes from (I buy it at Nationale, BTW). And yes, either the first country to instate an internet police force makes it difficult to imbed videos, or I just can't figure it out because it's in French.

Here are the espadrilles she still has in the store now:

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Thanks May!

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