La Manual Alpargatera
A legacy for the future.
An update on La Manual Alpargatera’s strategy, corporate identity, and website to face future challenges.
A legacy for the future
Barcelona is a cosmopolitan city that blends history and tradition with the contemporary in a very particular way. La Manual Alpargatera is a brand that fully embodies this spirit — the 80-year-old espadrille business has had its workshop (and shop) established at the heart of the El Gòtic neighbourhood since 1941.
Unlike many other retail businesses in the area, La Manual has been able to keep its doors open for the many locals and visitors who appreciate its craftsmanship, authenticity, and kindness. However, with the growing pressure of new competitors in physical and digital channels, this small familiar project decided to update its strategy, corporate identity, and website to face future challenges.
“This is a fashion brand” – A matter of perception
La Manual has earned a place in Fashion history for its trajectory – with designs acquired for the MET Museum’s permanent collection in New York – but this aspect was lacking from its clients’ perception. There are several reasons to explain it:
whilst comfort, craftsmanship and quality have been consistent concepts throughout La Manual’s communication, other essential values (such as an innovative spirit, sustainable and ethical practices, and artistic collaborations, to name a few) were only superficially mentioned and the shopping experience in the workshop/shop was better, more accessible and friendlier than on the website and the visual and verbal discourse weren’t well connected and therefore lacked engagement.
We approached La Manual’s corporate identity design determined to rediscover its original spirit. The long existence of the brand allowed us to access a rich archive of material, products and anecdotes that gave us hints for the creation of a new visual language.
Pairing the old and the new
La Manual’s new identity combines heritage and contemporaneity layered in two elements: the logotype and the “voice”.
— The logotype
Assembled in a customised version of Franklin Gothic condensed – Alpargata Gothic – and set in capital letters, the logotype was inspired by stationery pieces found in the archive. Even though the typeface choice reminisces the past, it’s in the typographic compositions where we decided to imprint the freedom, freshness and playfulness of La Manual.
— The “voice”
With the help of copywriter Francisca Torres, we reconsidered the verbal and the visual speech as complementary and interconnected elements. La Manual “speaks” with a Mediterranean voice — welcoming, simple and fresh — without ever losing the expert tone of its craftsman persona. Accordingly, the brand language mixes typographic display messages that pay homage to La Manual’s iconic façade with expressive collage compositions and bold use of colour.
The old and the new become one.
We love Barcelona (for real)
The art direction in photography connects La Manual with Barcelona through its culture, art, people and craftsmanship. The brand’s strong connection to this city is real, so we distanced ourselves from common stereotypes. As a result, La Manual espadrilles are depicted in their natural environment with warm light, laid back spirit, human diversity, urban and rural landscapes, local interiors and, inevitably, heritage.
La Manual’s new website offers an experience inspired by its workshop spirit. We translated into the digital environment the creative vibrance, humanity, craftsmanship and history of the brand whilst providing an authentic and helpful user experience. Through a careful display of the products, experiences and storytelling, La Manual’s new online presence aims to increase sales and amplify the brand’s awareness.
An open-minded process
Redesigning a legacy brand is a delicate job and requires constant dialogue with those who know it best: its people. The team at La Manual generously opened the back door of their workshop, gave us access to their archive and passionately explained the process of their craft, which has barely changed for millennia. Only through such open cooperation were we able to fully understand the communication issues, recover already existing values and cast a light on the less known creative, sustainable and innovative side of their business.