Friday, December 15, 2017

Respoke Iconic Espadrilles

Respoke espadrilles now available at:

Bergdorf Goodman 
Bergdorf Goodman Men
Serenella Palm Beach & Nantucket
The Match at Breakers Hotel Palm Beach
Shari's Place Palm Beach

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Merry Christmas Tio de Nadal and Respoke Espadrilles for the Holidays

When you move to a foreign country as a full-blown adult, as I did, there are a lot of things that run through your mind in the weeks beforehand. I suppose any time you do something that involves serious change, your brain sort of throws up roadblocks … subconscious anxiety that varies in legitimacy. I definitely was not deterred by these inner voices, but I can’t deny they existed. However, as much as I may have obsessed, I never gave even one thought to something that later proved as much a cultural shift as anything … The holidays.
So obviously Thanksgiving in Spain is a non-starter.  This wasn’t such a big deal to me, as it turns out.  Not exactly a football fan (though I have since developed a fondness for the Barcelona futbol team, but that’s another story entirely…); not precisely a big fan of turkey either; and certainly not a fan of the genocide of millions of indigenous people, which Thanksgiving kinda sorta celebrates in a roundabout way. My partner Joan and I have adopted a Thanksgiving policy of caipirinhas and fajitas at my favorite Mexican spot in Barcelona, and I’m pretty content with that, plus a little family Skype time where I can eye the stuffing and apple pie.

Now Christmas … that’s a whole other ball of wax. Obviously they celebrate Christmas here in Spain. And many of the traditions are similar, if not exactly the same. For example, Santa and the three wise men sail into Barcelona on a schooner in early December…no Rudolph in sight. But there’s gift-giving, lots of amazing light displays, nativity scenes … Hmm.  Well. Okay. So here’s one thing about the nativity scenes in Catalonia. There’s someone shitting in each one. Yep. Shitting. Traditionally, a shepherd.  This figure is called a Caganer … a shitter, obv.  So yea … dig it … there’s little baby Jesus, Mary and Joseph, the three Wise Men, some assorted farm animals … and a shepherd with his pants down above a little pile of poo.  The explanation for this seems to be a cultural shrug … I still haven’t heard a reason that amounts to much more than…poo is funny. And maybe something to do with fertility? It all sounds like a stretch. But the weirdness of this pales in comparison to the … wait for it … Shitting Log … the Tio de Nadal. Again, defecation is tied to a yuletide tradition. There is at least an explanation for this one … sort of.
Apparently peasant families of the Pyrenees came up with the idea of making a log a central figure in their Christmas celebration. You would wrap the log up in a blanket and feed it and sing to it and tell it your Christmas wishes in the days leading up to Christmas (from December 8th to the 24th.) Sweet, right? Ummm … yea … until the kids go all Lord of the Flies on the 24th and sing a song asking for cheese and candy and treats and BEAT IT WITH STICKS DEMANDING IT SHIT THOSE THINGS OUT. Then, under the blanket … voila.  Candy and treats. Then there is something about a stinking herring signalling the end of the fun … and then they BURN THE LOG. In summary … Spain and the States have some pretty serious cultural differences when it comes to the holidays. Also, traditions that aren’t familiar can seem utterly insane from an outside perspective.
In all seriousness though, I love Christmas in Barcelona … however, my favorite aspect might be the week afterwards … a week where I traditionally run off somewhere warm with my partner. I wear my Respokes year-round … they are Spanish espadrilles after all … but I never doubt that the soles belong most on the warm sand of tropical climes.
So … where will you be dreaming of wearing your Respokes this Christmas? Inquiring logs want to know.

Respoke Espadrilles Now Available at Gwyneth Paltrow - GOOP

As a native New Englander, I was expected to be hardy. I realized pretty early that wasn’t the case, but it still took me awhile to realize that I had options other than suffering through six months a year of cold weather. I left for the west coast in my twenties…although San Francisco was hardly a perfect climate at least I didn’t need to scrape ice off my windshield. However, the best decision of my life was moving to Barcelona. Although not exactly perpetual summer, there was no season that required much over a sweater. Sandals were year-round….worst case scenario, you might wear sandals with socks. I remember realizing that espadrilles were invented in Spain because they were literally perfect for the climate. Little did I know then that I would take such a personal interest in that ubiquitous footwear, nearly twenty years after I bought my first pair.

The reason I mention all this is because I felt strongly the weather had to be warm for the launch of Respoke. And based on the summer season we just had, my instincts were good. In May, Bergdorf Goodman picked up the line. Followed by Serenella in June. Gwyneth Paltrow’s GOOP brought us into the fold in July. I couldn’t have invented anything so fantastic in terms of reception and enthusiasm. Apparently, I’m not the only one in love with espadrilles.
But seeing photos of people wearing Respoke on beaches, boats, boardwalks over the last few months has been the best part. Knowing that feeling of summer and sunshine has reached so many people in just a few months is inspiring. The entire team at Respoke is excited for our next chapter.
I hope you are here to read it with me.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Why Don’t You…Wrap Your Feet in Hermès Scarves?

Respoke’s espadrilles merge craftsmanship, sustainability, and all that is chic


Every morning, Michael Tonello makes himself a cup of Earl Grey tea and goes online to scour the all corners of the Web for vintage Hermès scarves. But Tonello is not a collector—they are actually for his espadrille brand, Respoke, which repurposes vintage silk scarves (also from brands like Gucci, Pucci, and most recently Alexander McQueen) into luxury shoes, entirely handmade in Spain.
“The more important thing, in some ways, is finding scarves that are in perfect condition. We don’t want scarves that have lipstick stains on them, or perfume stains—any kind of stains, for that matter—holes, or pulls,” he said of the challenges of shopping vintage, also noting that interesting or recognizable patters are a must. “We want things that are sort of iconic. We want things that are colorful and fun. We want things that have a lot of pattern on them, so that there’s a lot going on on the espadrille.”
Tonello, is perhaps best known as the author of Bringing Home The Birkin, his New York Times bestselling memoir about his career as an Hermès Birkin bag reseller, which began in 1999 when he made a profit on eBay selling one of his old scarves. “I had paid about $175 for it at Bergdorf Goodman in 1992, so I listed it on eBay with an opening bid of $99,” he said of his first sale. “It sold for over $500.” But since launching his shoe brand last year, he’s been on the other side of the transaction, dealing with auction houses and resellers around the world. And completing the circle, the line’s summer collection was just picked up by Bergdorf.
He first toyed with the idea of espadrilles made out of scarves two years ago, when he started to get bored with the generic cotton canvas the shoes are usually made in. “Living in Spain, everyone buys espadrilles in the spring and wears them all summer long. But they’re always made out of solid color,” he explained. “Then, one day, I just had this idea, oh my god, this scarf would make amazing espadrilles!


That’s when he began doing research into production in Spain. “Really true, good espadrilles are basically all handmade. They’ve never changed the system,” he explained, outlining how every step—from carving blocks of organic rubber to the hand-stitching of the shoes—is done by family-owned operations. “The people that started making espadrilles two or three hundred years ago, it’s still the same people. It’s just their [descendants] now that are running the business.”
Tonello hopes that the quality consumers will be most drawn to (other than the sustainable aspect, being that the brand recycles) is that by nature of the available materials, each set of espadrilles is unique. At best, a single 90cm scarf can only yield about three pairs of shoes, depending on what size is being made. Pairs may not be cut the same way—assuming the Respoke team is even able to find multiples of the same design. “If you’re lucky enough to buy a pair, you may end up being one of only two people, or three people that has a particular design,” Tonello mused. “It’s really special.”
Respoke shoes, which are priced at $495, are available online here, and will soon be carried by Bergdorf Goodman.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

This Birkin Bag Just Sold For $380,000 At Auction

What makes a purse worth a house?

An Hermes Birkin bag has broken the world record for the most money ever paid for a handbag at auction, with a $380,000 winning bid at the Hong Kong event. The record was previously held by a different Birkin bag, for which a bidder paid $300,000 in 2016.
Christie's held the auction and would not share the identity of the buyer, but they did provide details about the coveted bag itself. Created in 2014, this particular "Himalaya" purse is made of matte crocodile skin, with handles encrusted in 205 diamonds and 18-karat gold buckles.


Himalaya Birkins get their name from the bag's color, which fades from smoky grey to pearly white, evoking comparisons with the mountain range. The company says they're exceptionally rare, with only one or two believed to be made each year because of a time-consuming process to dye the crocodile skin.
That today's Himalaya Birkin broke the record came as a surprise to Christie's. The presale estimate was between $193,000-$258,000. Spokeswoman Gigi Ho said bids sailed past that price window quickly during 10 to 15 minutes of intense offers in person, over the phone and online.
The infamous Birkin bag was introduced by Hermes in 1984, and named after singer-actress-model Jane Birkin. The purses retail for four figures at a minimum, and are so rare that their waiting list was featured as a plot point on a 2001 episode of "Sex and the City."


NBC-TV/Today Show
Summer Reading Round-Up

Bringing Home the Birkin
top 10 summer reads!




May 18, 2008
Bag Man