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La Portegna: simple, supple slippers

25 April 2012


As mentioned at the time, there was little that really excited me at Pitti Uomo this year. But a meeting with one little company has led to further collaboration: La Portegna.

A tiny operation in Madrid, La Portegna makes simple, leather and canvas products like slippers, bags and cases. They are straightforward, functional designs that will appeal to the traveler that dislikes fuss and wants his accessories to look lived in as quickly as possible.

The young company was founded by José Urrutia, inspired by the travels of his grandmother in the thirties and forties, which included trips with Ernest Hemingway (below). Portegna is the name for Europeans that emigrated to South America.


I bought a pair of the slippers, and wear them every day when I stumble out of bed to give my one- and four-year-old daughters breakfast. They are simply two pieces of very soft, veggie-tanned leather sewn together around the vamp with a leather insole. There is nothing to them, with the advantage that they can be rolled up for travel, as shown in the photo from Pitti.


They also come in versions with thin leather soles and rubber, driving-shoe style treads. I prefer the simple leather.

The disadvantage of being so unstructured is that they do not slip on and off as easily as other slippers. A thin leather like this also quickly heats up and so wants to stick to the skin – men who have worn slip-on shoes without socks in the summer will know the feeling I refer to.

I found this a little irritating to start with. My Tod’s gomminos, being thicker, do not stick in the same way. But that feeling dissipated pretty quickly. I love how they mould to my feet now; how they feel like wearing nothing at all; how they feel like gloves for the feet (though I think that is a Tod’s line).

Being so supple, they stretch a little, and therefore I would advise anyone buying a pair to go for the smaller size if you fall between sizes (as I do).

And they are only €70.