Alsen espadrilles

Striking handmade summer shoes with Ibizan flair

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.”

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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…

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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.

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