Espasoule - Retour à l'accueil

The Perfect Summer Shoe

The classic Mauleon espadrille is made from natural materials including cotton and jute and with expertise handed down over generations.

We at Megam Creation also manufacture a range of bags made from the same materials that compliment our espadrilles.  Our most recent product is the ‘New Generation’ espadrille, customized for sports clubs, designers and prestigious brand names.

Shopping Basket
0 Item(s) selected
Total Amount: 0 €
 Designer Espadrilles
 Flat-soled Espadrilles
 High-heeled Espadrilles
 Mid-heeled Espadrilles
 Striped Espadrilles
 All our Handbags

A century of history ...

There is a story that at the beginning of the 12th century the King of Aragon’s foot soldiers wore espadrilles.
Whether this is true or not, what we do know is that by the 18th century espadrilles were being made by hemp and linen craft workers in Bearn and the
BASQUE COUNTRY (two neighbouring regions of France close to the Pyrenees mountains and the Spanish border).

It was in
MAULÉON at the beginning of the 19th century that the BEGUERIE family started to sell espadrilles in large quantities.
The shoes were hand-made by locals from neighbouring villages and collected door-to-door.  Between 1850 and 1880 the method of production progressed from traditional to pre-industrial.

This is how the modern espadrille manufacturer began to emerge.
The organizer and distributer of materials, he sourced jute from Scotland which was delivered to the port at Bordeaux and local Basque linen.

His workers were paid for each pair of shoes that they made.  Each espadrille was stitched and put together by hand.

From 1880 onwards espadrilles were manufactured in factories using machinery that was adapted over time.  Around the turn of the century espadrille manufacturers enjoyed a period of great prosperity.  The market was driven by demand from the mines of Northern France, where each miner would need a new pair every week.  At the peak there were thirty factories in the Soule region of the French Basque country.
There weren’t enough locals to do all the work so the factories recruited seasonal workers from Spain, particularly from NAVARRE and ARAGON, two Basque regions on the Spanish side of the Pyrenees. A flood of seasonal workers arrived on foot between 1890 and 1914.
The first to arrive were the young girls who were nicknamed ‘the swallows’ because they arrived in May and left in the Autumn.  The men tended to stay in France after the seasonal work was over because they were able to find work as lumberjacks, quarrymen and general labourers.

In Mauleon the numbers of workers making espadrilles increased from 537 in 1896 to 1,585 in 1911. Of these 65–80% were Spanish but there was no resentment towards them because there was plenty of work to go round.  The Spanish population settled principally in two areas of Mauleon, Licharre and Haute-ville and the founders of Megam were amongst them.

Difficulties began to arise for the industry after the First World War.  Conditions in the mines changed. To avoid explosions the mines were kept wet and the rope soles of the espadrilles weren’t suitable. As a result, the espadrille was modified with the addition of a rubber sole.

In the 1980’s the French espadrille came under threat when espadrilles started to arrive from China.  To face up to the competition the classic espadrille was given a make-over and appeared in new colours and in alternative materials such as printed fabric and leather. Such innovation has radically changed the espadrille and the way it is worn. There are now no limits to the materials that can be used and the colours and designs that can be printed on them (please contact the Megam factory with any enquiries regarding bespoke espadrilles!).

The espadrille is now a desirable, fashion item and is part of leading designers’ collections.

Today Mauleon is still the hub of the espadrille industry. Although reduced in size since its heyday, it continues to meet a  now growing demand for a high quality product from a more exacting customer.