A family story
Philippa is, above all, a story of family. A legacy of love for shoes that has extended over eight decades. Tito Gavalda (Oloron-Sainte-Marie, 1922) laid the first stone in 1946, creating the family’s first factory. His work continued through his son, Philippe (Biarritz, 1957), and later his granddaughter, Carlota (Logroño, 1988).
Each generation has initiated the next. An inheritance of excellence and handcrafted technique with espadrilles as their flagship. Each member of the Gavalda family has delved into their roots and followed their instinct in order to reinvent the savoir-faire and to provide elegant summer footwear all over the world.
After the end of the Second World War, a young couple of French rebels known as Tito and Nevada were waiting for the metro in the Parisian underground.
They noticed that a large portion of the population was wearing worn footwear. They made a promise: to provide shoes for the French once freedom arrived.
Behobia, French-Spanish border
The family’s first espadrille factory appeared: Sandale Nevada. A thousand pairs of shoes leave the workshops each day, some as representative as the well-known “Derby” model for gentlemen. They export their shoes around the world, from the United States to Japan.
The world rebuilds itself and fashion starts to enjoy its second golden era. Magazines take note. Hollywood actresses and designers wear sandals from the family factory in the sunniest France. Tito creates emblematic models and designs and sets the bases for many other manufacturers.
Grace Kelly poses beautifully next to a handsome Cary Grant during the filming of “To Catch a Thief”. In the background, the idyllic landscape of the Côte d’Azur. She did not yet know that a few months later, she would become a princess. It is possible that she also didn’t know that the espadrilles worn by both, which were noticed by half of the planet, had come from Tito’s factory.
One of the most important years for Tito. Philippe, his first son, who would become an essential part of the expansion of the family business in the coming decades, was born. Tito received a proposal in Spain: a factory on the verge of bankruptcy needed his experience. This led to Comanche, his second factory, in Burgos. While Nevada was a success, Comanche exceeded all expectations. They continued to make espadrilles, but specialised in footwear for gentlemen.
Comanche occupied the second ranking by business volume in the Spanish footwear sector and was the largest exporter in the country. Trips to America followed: Mexico, Cuba, Miami, New York… New opportunities arose on the American continent and Tito became a usual guest at the great parties of the time.
Philippe enjoyed his city, Biarritz, and its beaches, with his siblings and friends. He balanced the university and his summer jobs. He became one of the popular waiters at the most exclusive restaurant in Côte 64. Finally, after completing his studies, Philippe Gavalda joined his father at the heart of the company and took over management of Comanche in 1985.
The large prêt-à-porter international brands trust the excellence and quality of the family factory. The Gavalda family created new models and fabrics, many of which became iconic and appeared in the advertising campaigns of the most chic brands at the time.
After several summers working in one of the most important espadrille shops in the world, in San Juan de la Luz, Carlota Gavalda decided to open her own store in Ibiza. There, she found customers from all over the world, including some celebrities, and created a small family of friends.
This also helped her to test her first creations. The experience, though exhausting, was a complete success. Many of her customers returned for more espadrilles before taking their flight home. Carlota already had extensive knowledge of the footwear sector, but she decided to continue studying in order to make her dream come true.
Carlota Gavalda creates the Philippa brand.