You may know that Spain is well known for its high-quality shoe manufacturing (think Manolo Blahnik, Campers, and Espadrille), so it probably will come as no surprise to you that these beautiful and comfortable shoes have a history that dates back centuries.
Similar to the way an ‘UGG Boot’ refers to a type of shoe made from sheepskin and wool; an “avarca” (Catalan pronunciation: [əˈvarkə], plural avarcas) is a type of sandal produced in Menorca. The shoes are made using a leather upper and a rubber sole.
Unlike Australia’s UGG boot, which unfortunately lost a large international trademark battle and was copied worldwide; the avarca name has fought off-patent attempts and been protected by the Island Government of Menorca (Consell Insular); and the Shoemaker Association of Menorca (Associació de fabricants del Calçat de Menorca).
Together they developed a standard for the avarca sandal, which requires any shoe named an “Avarca” to meet. This is called the ‘Avarca De Menorca’ guarantee and the accompanying logo, a certified "denominacion de origen" certifies the authenticity of the product. This has protected the Avarca name; the Menorcan shoe manufacturing industry; and the quality of the shoe as we know it today.
While there are a number of brands promoting this shoe, it’s important to look for the certification to ensure you are getting the quality product and supporting a small island shoe manufacturing industry that dates back centuries.
ODE TO AVARCAS
Thanks to the Artisans of Menorca who have written this Ode
Together we have walked the luminous fields of the island
and tread upon the placid beaches with seaweed and waves.
We have tasted the salt left on the rocks by the northern winds
and climbed steep rocky hills.
We have swum in the stifling heat of August nights
and danced with the wind on southern beaches.
We have been merry amongst the thistles and the bramble bush
this sky now full of autumn grey carries us to the clouded chill.
We have sown with memories the summer tracks
and set free solitary haikus around the wood.
Franciscan, modest, leather and car tyre
with you I have witnessed the ancestral places
Where Menorca’s heart beats
and I have felt in me,
full of joy and pride,
that my homeland was born.
With you I have been so happy,
that now I owe you a poem of love,
my dear Arvaca sandals.