It’s summer, it’s hot. Look down and observe the feet of the people you see on the esplanade. What kind of shoes are they wearing? Many of them are probably using leather sandals called avarcas.
The cradle of avarcas is Menorca, although nowadays they can be made in such distant places as Italy, Turkey or Algeria. But the authentic ones are produced only on this Balearic Island.
Their origin is those primitive sandals worn by Menorcan fieldworkers and stonecutters. They fashioned them by hand, tying some cords to the soles to keep them on their feet. And that’s the way they did it until the second decade of the 20th century, when their design became more similar to the one we know today.
It was then that the leather sole was replaced by a rubber one. It was way of making use of discarded pieces of automobile tyres, and also produced a more water-resistant shoe that was apt for working in the fields. At night, seated in front of the hearth, these workers would repair their sandals and make new ones.
At the end of the 1950s, the design of the avarcas was refined. The owners of the farms began to use them as leisure wear, and asked craftsmen to produce a more elegant version. Those models attracted the attention of the tourists who were beginning to visit Menorca, and little by little the avarca was popularised among them as a summer sandal. The boom came in the 80s, when they were a fashion product, with more anatomical and colourful designs that nevertheless maintain the essence of the originals.