A short distance from Ibiza’s buzzing beach boutiques and rows of stylish sun worshippers nestles a sartorial secret: a recently founded company called Alsen that’s quietly making its mark with a range of beautifully quirky handmade espadrilles, from graphic animal prints to unusual tweeds and metallics.
A trip to the company’s island headquarters reveals an enticing collection traditionally handcrafted in high-quality natural materials by a family-run factory in La Rioja. “Handmade shoes from Spain are famous all over the world,” says founder Giorgio Alsen. “I’ve worn espadrilles since I was a child, and now I want to create unique pieces that combine my heritage with high fashion.”
My eye is immediately drawn to Leonora (€119, first picture), a leopard-print pair in brushed calf hair and gorgeously rough-hewn organic jute that’s one of the brand’s bestsellers, and Elena (€99, second picture) in gleaming metallic silver leather. More low key is Giulia (€119), made from specially commissioned handcrafted Valencian lace, and Aurelia (€119, third picture), a woven red calf hair design that’s an exercise in offbeat chic. Overwhelmed by choice, I finally opt for Penelope (€89), a buttery soft suede pair in pale silver, with the subtlest of metallic sparkles.
Clients are already clamouring for bespoke designs – recent commissions have included a pair for a yacht insurer based in Monaco – and with a hand-woven ikat collection and experimental takes on snakeskin print in the pipeline, Alsen is set to make waves around the island in no time…
Shoe fanatics with an eye for the unique may also like the classic-meets-modern designs of Il Gergo, or for a different style of summer shoe, take a look at this chic jelly shoe from Ancient Greek Sandals.