La Manual was founded in 1940. It all began right after the Civil War, when Mrs. Emilia Martinez, a Catalan entrepreneur, came up with the idea of doing something that no one had thought of before; to introduce the traditional espadrille into fashion, a shoe that until then had been used for working in the countryside or in folklore.
To do so, she added heels and colorful ribbons to the classic espadrille, making them a covetable piece.
Nobody can tell where the first espadrilles were made, this discovery is lost in the night of time and blurred across the geography of the planet. But we know that it was in Barcelona, and in particular at La Manual Alpargatera, where they made a qualitative leap that became the beginning of the path that has taken them into their present moment: a full right member of fashion world.
Emilia bought a small workshop where she instructed professional espadrille makers and influenced them with her innovative style. A few years later, she asked Juana, her apprentice and right hand, to take charge and ownership of the store.
Juana and her family's passion for espadrilles has been reflected throughout the years in their comfortable and traditional design, making them the favorite shoe of many.
What is La Manual?
In 1941, La Manual Alpargatera opened its doors in its workshop on the emblematic Avinyo street, a space that to this day preserves its style, its essence and its craft techniques. (Previously located near Catedral del Mar)
Currently, La Manual Alpargatera is the only and last espadrille workshop in Barcelona which produces handmade espadrilles locally.
Artists, singers, actors and actresses have passed through La Manual Alpargatera.
The Pope John Paul II who use to send someone on his behalf to order the espadrilles custom made for him in our store, granted an audience to Francisco Tasies and Juana Martinez.
Like them, many other characters have shoed the products of the emblematic store on Avinyó street in search of handmade espadrilles.
Jack Nicholson, who not only came, but has recommended it to many people.
Salvador Dali was a recurring client, a fan of the "pinxo" model. Dali's visits never went unnoticed, the sales clerks at the time said "... look, that eccentric who came to buy the pinxos is now famous and appears on TV..." Salvador Dali was not only a buyer, he also recommended our espadrilles.
Dali used to wear his espadrilles all the time, once he caused a sensation at an exhibition in Paris by wearing his espadrilles with a suit.
Penelope Cruz recommended us in an interview for a French magazine. Like them, artists like Julianne Moore, Tyra Banks, Simon Baker, and fashion icons like Jean Paul Gaultier or Moza Bint Nasser among others, have also passed by.
Today, our espadrilles are hand-made locally, bringing comfort through tradition to everybody. Our outfitters create traditional attire such as the Gala Catalan police shoewear. This style works for all people who want to walk stylishly and comfortably .
Oswaldo Guayasamín, considered the best muralist in Latin America, said he could not paint without the espadrilles from La Manual Alpargatera.
The facade of the espadrille workshop became a characteristic symbol of our city. Over time, the storefront design has been so well known that a customer who didn't know our address sent a letter with a drawing of the storefront, and it still arrived! (This was before Google!)
La Manual Alpargatera, a traditional espadrille store in Barcelona.Today, it is a must-stop for travelers in Barcelona and a preferred choice by locals due to their comfort and authenticity.
Here is our story narrated from Juana Martinez, Joan Carles's mother. Joan is the family member in charge of keeping this tradition alive. You can see him in this video with his brother playing while younger.
Thanks to its comfort and quality, our store have received numerous forms of appreciation from our customer community, international awards and featured in prestigious fashion and lifestyle magazines like Vogue and Elle, to name a few.