Style can be as simple as looking to history and discovering what’s in your very own backyard. Noelia Pahissa didn’t set out to bring European footwear to other parts of the world, but through happy happenstance and keen observance she recognized a need and decided to act upon it. She’s since blazed a trail for Pons avarcas here in the US and we’re excited to share that story with you today.
(Plus, keep reading to learn how you can win a pair of your very own!)
Darling Magazine: Tell us about the European history of Pons. Where are they from and how did they develop?
Noelia: Pons avarcas are originally from Menorca, a small, beautiful island in the Mediterranean in Spain. The land in Menorca is dry and hot in summertime. The first avarcas were originated for farmers who worked the land – strong, durable and flexible – and made with leather and recycled tires to keep the farmer’s feet cool, comfortable and protected.
Pons is a family owned business located in Ciutadella, Menorca and have specialized in artisan avarcas since 1945. The current manufacturers are the third generation of shoemakers that have proudly continued the family tradition. Pons avarcas are well known for being handcrafted in workshops, where every as detail is given the utmost attention; they are made from raw materials 100% sourced in Spain and their design and finishing are ensured to have the highest quality.
Nowadays, Pons avarcas are made with lightweight rubber models, still with the same characteristic finish of the traditional sewn sole. The eco classic line is still made from recycled tires. All models – women’s, men’s and children’s – conserve the essence of the original Menorca avarcas: a shoe with more than a century of tradition, first worn by countrymen and farmers and now re-invented to become a basic and essential accessory for those who love style and comfort.
DM: What is the manufacturing process like? How does it support the local economy in Menorca?
Noelia: The shoes are largely handcrafted with a little help from sewing and milling machines. 100% of the leather and raw materials are sourced from Spain, much of it right from Menorca itself, so this totally helps to grow the local economy. All employees of the workshop are locals from the island.
DM: How did they make a start in the US?
Noelia: I moved to California from Barcelona in 2004 when my husband, Jose Fuentes, accepted an engineering position in San Diego. Among many packed possessions were a few pairs of Pons avarcas, which we both grew up wearing. It only took a few dozen compliments to realize there was an unmet demand for the Mediterranean product in the U.S. market.
It only took a few dozen compliments to realize there was an unmet demand for the Mediterranean product in the U.S. market.
DM: What is the significance of the “Avarca de Menorca” tag?
Noelia: Due to avarcas’ popularity, in order to protect the tradition and the artisans of Menorca the local government and the Shoemaker Association created a guarantee brand to certify the strict quality, production and origin of the authentic avarcas of Menorca.
DM: Why do you think these sandals have found such popularity?
Noelia: Avarcas’ casual design fit in wherever your lifestyle takes you; from the beach to the city they will complement any outfit. In addition, we personally think that Pons avarcas appeal to people who care about where their clothing and footwear comes from, who want to support artisans and know the backstory of their products.
DM: What has surprised you the most about starting this business?
Noelia: We are gladly surprised how people here in the U.S. support small business and want to know the backstory of the company and appreciate well-designed, handcrafted products.
DM: Aside from Menorca, of course, where would be your favorite place to wear these sandals in Spain?
Noelia: Our hometown, Barcelona. We would take our Pons for a stroll along the El Born neighborhood visiting the Picasso Museum and the Gothic Cathedral, a tasty paella for lunch in the waterfront La Barceloneta district and after lunch a stroll along the beach. We would rent a bike and head to Passeig the Gracia to visit two classics of Gaudi’s architecture, La Pedrera and Casa Batllo.
Want to win your own pair of Pons?
Simply repost one (or all three for additional entries) of the below photos to Instagram and tell @avarcasusa and @darlingmagazine where you’d love to wear your pair! Tag #DarlingPons and we’ll select a winner on Friday, June 6th!
Check out the full line of Pons here.
Images via Jasmine Fitzwilliam of Let’s Frolic Together