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Espadrilles have been having their moment in the sun for a few seasons, but as a summer essential they have one significant downside: They’re not that comfortable. And one more: they don’t last. Both these points were irking Londoner Toby Cox, who wore them regularly when sailing but ended up trashing them all too quickly. So he set out to create an upgrade: Enter Mulo, the espadrille re(de)fined.
Made using traditional English shoemaking techniques, the Mulo design is based on an Oxford last, meaning its slim silhouette has been taken from a formal Oxford-style lace-up. There are more than 100 stages before the final shoe—hand-made in Portugal out of plush suede, Japanese linen and featuring a rubber sole—is complete. You notice the quality of construction long before you get them on your feet. Sturdy but not bulky, they have a minimal presence that will please those who liked the simplicity of espadrilles, but they are a significant improvement. I was particularly drawn to the neutral shades—versatile shades of taupe, brown and beige—but striped versions and those in indigo linen offer a more nautical or lightweight alternative.
Launched in 2012, Mulo now offers slippers, sneakers and loafers, all with a similar pared-back aesthetic. (Its new collaboration with British loungewear brand Hamilton and Hare, a pair of blue suede slippers with tartan lining, would make a smart Holiday gift.) But for those of you off for a little winter sun in the coming months—or indeed reading this from warmer climes—it is the espadrille that we most recommend to you. As a slip-on, go-anywhere summer shoe, as happy by the pool as in a beach bar, they’re hard to beat.