Espadrilles have seen an upturn in popularity of late but the orginals are competing against cheap Asian imports which is threatening the long-held domestic industry in France. Tradionally based at the French Pyrenees, in Basque Country, there is a small municipality of Mauleon-Licharre where shoemaking, and the production of espadrilles, has a centuries-old tradition. Across the Spanish border the Catalonians can boast of a similar heritage. Lightweight fabric shoe with a woven hemp sole first made their appearance in the mid-18th century and soon become shoe of choice of soldiers and others who appreciated the shoe's flexibility and low cost. Later the espadrille became associated with Bohemians and celebrities like Pablo Picasso , Audrey Hepburn,and Grace Kelly. No self respecting lotus eater of the 50s and early 60s would be seen without their espadrilles. Up until the mid 50s all French miners were issued with a pair of espadrilles as standard kit but after this stopped and low cost footwear flooded in from China in the 70s sales of espadrilles dropped. The French still buy between five to six million pairs of espadrilles a year however over 80 per cent of the shoes come from Asia. Keen not to disappear the workshops of Mauleon-Licharre are trying to better market their handiwork. Companies like Prodiso still make their shoes entirely by hand, while others have added some type of mechanization to ramp up their distribution.