Five minutes with Rizqah Isaacs and Patricia Terre of Espadril
Patricia Terre and Rizqah Isaacs are the creative duo behind Espadril, Cape Town’s fresh and fabulous espadrille brand. They met while working as sales assistants in a well-known luxury retail boutique, and soon knew that one day they’d be creating their own luxury brand. But what would its focus be? Then one day, an ultra-luxe espadrille landed on the shop floor and the pair instinctively knew this was where their future lay.
Patricia – who grew up in Spain – explained to Rizqah how espadrilles were an intrinsic part of Spanish culture; a sort of uniform, worn for centuries as effortless, everyday shoes. Months of research followed and the duo began importing Spanish espadrilles to sell locally. But costs were high and the shoes were not quite right. They realised the best course of action would be to create their own brand of espadrilles, marrying together their international and local sensibilities.
Patricia and Rizqah began selling their original Espadrils at markets in and around Cape Town, gradually building up the business from operating out of Patricia’s bedroom to having a tiny workshop in Woodstock to now selling and making out of the Bree Street Espadril studio and shop.
It’s here that customers can come to watch the team of four South African women hand-making each pair of shoes. The process starts with sewing together the traditional handmade soles that are imported from Spain. Then the locally sourced cotton uppers are added – again, entirely by hand – to create a resort-ready yet everyday pair of shoes.
Alongside the main line and seasonal collections, Espadril also offers wearers the opportunity to custom-make their own unique pair of espadrilles. The shoes can be adjusted to have a single or double sole, cotton or leather uppers, ties and finishes, and of course, a colour of choice. This is real freedom and luxury on another level. And currently, Espadril is the only espadrille brand in the world to offer a bespoke service.
On the eve of the launch of the new Espadril Spring/Summer 2019 collection at Sanlam Handmade Contemporary in Joburg on 12 October, we sat down to chat to Patricia and Rizqah.
Did the two of you always want to create shoes? If not, what did you want to do when you were growing up?
Patricia: I wanted to be an actress – in fact I still do!
Rizqah: I always wanted to be a mom.
Why espadrilles as opposed to any other variety of shoe?
P: When we started to think about a project someone gave us this advice: “Do something that says; “I’m a woman and I’m Spanish”.’ Immediately we thought of espadrilles.
R: There is really no better shoe to wear in the summer.
What’s the most beautiful (or memorable) pair of shoes you’ve ever seen?
R: It would have to be the Tribute sandal by Yves Saint Laurent – the beauty of this shoe lies in its construction and its ability to be worn by any woman with almost any outfit.
What are your earliest visual memories?
P: Playing in the street, with lots of children and my four siblings. My mother at home, cooking or doing house chores. I am fortunate to have had that kind of freedom.
R: Mine are definitely on the beach, I have been lucky enough to grow up in Cape Town so the ocean was the backdrop to my earliest childhood memories.
Do you have a secret talent?
P: I make the best gazpacho! It is pretty much the only thing I can cook, but it is like drinking life – I don't know how people can live without it.
What does a typical day in the life at Espadril look like?
R: A group of amazing women working together to achieve their dreams.
Which single place (city/destination/art museum/art gallery/location) should every serious shoe-lover visit?
P: The Espadril store in Cape Town. We offer the customer the opportunity to design their own espadrille and see how it’s been made, by hand, by one of our precious ladies.
R: The Espadril studio, a place where we honour age-old tradition and include you in the creative process… basically a shoe-lover’s dream.
Do you have a special favourite among all the espadrilles you’ve created?
P: It’s difficult, as I love every single shoe we make. But if I had to choose one, the Habibi (our second collaboration with Pichulik) is probably the most memorable. No matter where I am, people just stop me to ask about them.
R: The Couri in pink from our new SS19 collection, Amanzi, is my absolute favourite.
What would your last meal – and last drink – be?
P: I definitely would have a selection of simple tapas, olives, anchovies on olive oil, Serrano ham, a juicy tomato salad, Manchego cheese, bread… and lots of wine.
R: The oysters from Chefs Warehouse and a sparkling water.
If money were no object, what would you treat yourselves to?
P: I would take a sabbatical and visit my top 10 destinations worldwide, by myself!
R: I would definitely buy myself an island and live there with all my favourite people.
Visit their website espadril.co.za to find out more about the latest offerings from Espadril.