Modern espadrilles from TOMS Shoes

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When you get inundated with e-mails touting new boutique openings, emerging designers, and the umpteenth fashion show of the year, items of interest occasionally get lost in the maelstrom. Or maybe one street-fashion moment is worth a thousand earnest press releases.

This weekend I noticed a fellow guest at a cookout wearing what looked like a simplified version of an espadrille, the rope-soled fabric shoe that has its origins in Catalonia. It featured the traditional fabric upper and squarish toe, but the stitching and unusual patterned material were new. She'd picked them up at Akira, she told me, and they were called TOMS Shoes. I vaguely recognized the name, and sure enough, way back in my in-box was a message alerting me to new spring and summer styles. 

The company was founded in 2006 by entrepreneur Blake Mycoskie, who was inspired by alpargatas, the Argentinian version of the espadrille. The company is largely defined by its humanitarian mission--giving away one pair of shoes to a needy child for every pair sold.

Colors and patterns for men, women, and kids include seersucker, palm prints, polka dots, and madras, as well as solids. Soles are rubber or rubber infused with rope mesh for a more classic look. Just the thing to pair with a striped shirt and straw hat as you tuck a basket under your arm and head for the farmers' markets this summer.

 

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