The ses esperdenyes (hemp shoes) are an essential element of the costume of Ibiza (although perhaps less striking). They form together with sabatilles the traditional footwear of the island. They are made by hand.
The esperdenyes are simple sandals that adorn the feet of the Ibicencas since ancient times. They are still worn today by the dancers of the ball pagès (the traditional peasants dance). They consist of a braided hemp sole and a top of palm fronds, which have been whitened with lime. The women wear espardenyes "de morret" or "capelleta“; in contrast to the espardenyes of the men its tip is closed. If the shell is made of fabric, they are called sabatilles.
The espardenyes are worn to all the different costumes of Ibiza: the white costume, the colored costume and the gonella, the oldest and most simple costume. In his book "The Old Pitiusas" , Archduke Ludwig Salvator of Austria-Tuscany writes: "Although the costume is neither comfortable nor practical, the islanders are absolutely faithful to it ...". However, the shoe itself is an exception, because we should not forget that the old farmers of the island put them on because they needed the necessary functionality for their tasks.
But although they are comfortable to wear, their manufacture is complex. Various steps are necessary for their manufacture. First, the pita is washed, and then dried, avoiding the direct rays of the sun. The pita then whitened, braided ... Some masters of this art believe that a single pair takes six days to produce.
The espardenyes, which until recently only rounded off the traditional costume of Ibiza, now experience a new appreciation. Various clubs work in Ibiza to promote this product. The espardenyes were formerly sold in classic shoes, but they have now opened a new way as summer sandals, even outside the island.
There are now also attempts by companies to market sandals inspired by the traditional espardenya. A shoe which, thanks to its simplicity, has begun to conquer other countries, which now bear this unique example of Ibiza´s art of craftsmanship.