The Avarca Story article image by Antipodas Brand

The Avarca Story

Miguel Barbudo

The Avarca was a concept that was inspired by necessity. Today, Avarca sandals have now become a staple in men and women’s fashion. Its influence has reached all corners of the globe, thanks to its simplistic design, durability, and versatility. But did you know the origin story of this gorgeous footwear? If you’re a big fan of Avarca sandals, continue reading!

Its Rich and Meaningful Beginnings

There is a rich history behind the Avarca. Much like other footwear, Avarcas were originally handcrafted by artisans who combine aesthetics and functionality based on their needs and cultural traditions. What sets the Avarca sandals apart from other footwear is that many of its niche shoemakers still follow the old-fashioned way of making sandals by hand. 

Due to its superior quality build, most consumers actually prefer handmade Avarcas over manufactured sandals. The simplicity and comfort of Avarcas may only be achieved with superior workmanship from the precise hands of artisans that learned the skill passed down from one generation to the next.

Menorca is the birthplace of the Avarca sandals. In the local tongue, the “Abarca” was not exclusive to Menorca as it was being used in other parts of Spain and other Mediterranean regions. In essence, the Avarca was first designed during the reign of the Roman Empire. The arrival of Avarca in Menorca was under the Catalan-Argonite crown in the 13th century. Menorcan farmers who lived at the centre of the island needed footwear that was flexible and resistant to the elements as they worked in the fields all day long. The farmers needed a sturdy sandal that can protect their field not only from the rough terrain but also from extreme cold in winter and heat during summer months. In short, they needed a versatile pair that they could use all year long.

First-Generation Avarca Sandals

Primitive avarcas were originally made from straws that were stuffed in the soles to protect them from humidity and keep their feet comfortable and warm. The first pairs were manufactured during cold nights, as the necessity for sandals with insulating properties were in big demand from the months of September to December. Avarcas were truly a necessity to ensure productivity and efficiency in fields, that they used to be included in the wages of farm hands that work for large farms and properties.

First-generation Avarcas were made from the skin of farm animals including cows and pigs. The “llocs” were used in the construction of avarcas, from the sole to the fastening straps. They chose the greasiest parts of animal skin to establish better protection and insulation. 

The invention of rubber wheels paved the way for changes made in the construction of Avarca sandals. From leather soles, makers then switched to tire treads, while the straps were made from rubber strips taken from the sides of rubber tires, ensuring enhanced grip and resistance.

These iterations made Avarca sandals more comfortable to wear during extended periods and resistant to the elements. Improvements were viewed so impressively that the Menorcan bourgeoisie began to wear them as well.

20th Century Avarca and Regulations

Fast forward to the 20th century that women began taking interest in wearing open-toe sandals. As the traditional Avarca sandals were too coarse for women’s feet, workshops at the centre of the island began working on more refined and comfortable models for women. It was a hit among the elite and nobility that dances were specifically made to be held exclusively with Avarca sandals worn by the performers.

When tourism flourished in Menorca, the Avarca sandals became one of the most favourite purchases among tourists. Due to the increasing demand, several Avarca makers attempted to patent the name and design. In 2000, PIME Menorca established a set of rules that served as the basis in the manufacturing of original Avarca sandals.

In 2010, official regulations were approved in the Avarca sandals of Menorca to ensure proper branding, and to cede its commercial use exclusively for companies on the island that adhere to the regulations. If you want original Avarca Menorca sandals, you may simply refer to the geographical indications of production. This means that Avarca sandals need to meet technical requirements in terms of materials and manufacturing to be considered an original Avarca sandal from Menorca.

Inarguably, the origins of Avarca sandals are rich and meaningful. The Menorcans were able to maintain their rich traditions through the centuries. They used technological advancements to improve various aspects, including materials, production, and quality control. Today, many shoemakers in Menorca distribute their products to different parts of the globe. The simple, practical, yet naturally beautiful aesthetic Avarcas have made them an iconic pair that men and women adore.

If you wish to check out the latest Avarca sandal styles, check out our impressive selection here. At Antipodas Brands, we are known as a premier stockist of handcrafted Avarca sandals from Spain. For additional enquiries, you may call our direct line on +61 451 663 662 today.