cheap clothing in Asian imports nearly killed production of "espadrilles" in the birthplace of this iconic summertime cloth and rope-soled shoe, but in a twist of fate Asia is now coming to their rescue.
As Basque as berets and espelette peppers, the shoe originated centuries ago as cheap and easy footwear for peasants in the Pyrenees region that straddles the border between France and Spain.
They became a unisex hit for all classes and just about everyone in both countries has spent a summer in a pair of their own.
The trend went international, helped along by fans like Pablo Picasso, Lauren Bacall -- whose ankle-laced model in the 1948 hit "Key Largo" triggered a US craze -- and US actor Don Johnson who cooly fought crime wearing espadrilles in the hit 1980s TV series "Miami Vice".
Then came the slump.