I just rescued a pair of shoes. They were trapped in a store.
There is a delicious irony that an island where you can spend many days wearing just flip flops on your feet, is famous for producing fine shoes and boots.
History of Shoemaking on Mallorca #
Shoes and Mallorca have gone together since the Middle Ages in 1276 A.D., when King Jaume II (James II) inherited a realm that included Mallorca. The new king promoted the creation of the textile industry, among other modern initiatives. The shoemaking (cobbler) industry drove the economy of Palma and the island exported shoes all over the world. Cobblers are called sabaters in Catalan.
In the late 19th Century, an aphid infestation devastated the island’s wine industry by killing vines, so many people turned to the shoe trade. Some of these family run shoemakers still exist and their brands are now known all over the world.
By the 1930’s the town of Inca was well-established as Mallorca’s shoe headquarters with around 100 factories producing all kinds of footwear. This is the reason Inca is a great transportation hub here on the island and an easy place to live if you don't want to own a car.
For more on the rich history of shoemaking on Mallorca, visit the Museum of Footwear and Industry in Inca, located in a pavilion of the former General Luque Infantry Barracks. It was designed by Majorcan architect Francesc Roca (1909 – 1910), although it was later remodeled several times by government architect Guillem Reynés Font. This is a must-see for the history of shoes and also architecture on the island. With COVID, a visit might not be easy so check out this link for a series of videos and events at the museum >> Videos of Events at the Museum of Footwear and Industry
The Oldest Brand on the Island #
Possibly the oldest brand on the island is CARMINA, created by the Albaladejo family who can claim to have been producing footwear in Inca for six generations. In 1866 Matias Pujadas opened a small workshop in the town and began crafting bespoke shoes, which launched a family legacy.
However, it was not until 1997 that José Albaladejo Pujadas established the CARMINA brand of premium hand-crafted shoes. CARMINA is rated as the third top shoe brand in Spain and a pair of their exotic leather specimens can set you back thousands of euros.
Looking for Mountain Boots? #
In contrast, what about a pair of stout mountain boots? The BESTARD factory in Lloseta has been making hikers happy for over 80 years since Antonio Bestard began producing quality walking footwear. BESTARD boots has diversified Into making boots for the Spanish military as well as for hunters in the far North.
Hasta donde tu quieras – to wherever you wish. Bestard company motto, reflecting its study shoes for exploring feet.
Laid-back Contemporary Style #
Meanwhile back in ‘shoe central’ in Inca, three generations of the Coll family have been making GEORGE’S shoes since 1967. Their laid-back, contemplative approach to shoemaking means that they want to “tell the world to buy less and live more”. An interesting approach from a brand whose black leather lace-ups will cost you around a hundred euros. We hear that George's is closed for now. Please do check back with them as this is an iconic Mallorcan brand.
Just down the road, and visible from the motorway, the famous CAMPER brand has been around since the 1970s but the family tradition of shoemaking goes back to the 1800s. Originally they made shoes for local farmers out of tyre rubber and bits of fabric, hence the name which derives from ‘camperol’ - Catalan for peasant. Times have certainly changed as now a pair of Camperlab ankle boots can set you back a cool 265€.
Recently, I discovered MONGE, a company founded in 2012 that is based in Palma. They have a mix of contemporary design and the time-honoured shoemaking techniques from Majorca. This is a perfect combination of the classic footwear spirit, with a modern twist and handcrafted quality. And best of all, this high-quality company has modern styles for men and women that are definitely in the affordable budget. This means we can buy more shoes!!
Horseback Riding? Find Cowboy Boots in Alaró #
For something a bit different what about a pair of traditional pair of cowboy boots? Head to Alaró where the Tony Mora factory produces only 50,000 pairs a year of these walking works of art. Every pair requires 100 handcrafted steps so it’s no surprise that a customised top-of the-range boots can set you back upwards from an eye-watering two thousand euros. No wonder they have been spotted on the trotters of (literally) well-heeled celebrities.
For more on horseback riding on Mallorca, read the profile of Lizzie Graham and see the experience that awaits you >> Horseback Riding in Mallorca
Sandals for Everyday Life #
Finally, ditch those flip flops and opt for some traditional “Avarca” sandals. These shoes are usually associated with Menorca but some are made here. These are very comfy sandals made of material with rubber for the soles. These are the only shoes of your grandparents you might want. They are comfortable, last forever as long as they do not get wet and fit almost any setting when in the islands.
Men’s Handcrafted Style Made 100% on the Island #
If you enjoy handcrafted men’s footware and want to truly buy 100% local, Toni Llobera Barceló founded TLB Mallorca. All of their shoes are made entirely from resources on the island of Mallorca. He gives classic elements a contemporary twist. Toni personally selects the calfskins used for his shoe lines. He says he enjoys catering to the demanding man who appreciates handcrafted perfection. It shows.
Review Series: TLB Mallorca—The BEST Goodyear Welted Shoe In Its Class
Listen to this reviewer explain what makes TLB Mallorca unique.
Quality at a “Radical Affordable Price Point” for Men and Women #
Another company in the business of shoemaking is Meermin, a family owned and operated business based on the island. They are dedicated to creating well made, quality Goodyear Welted shoes at a “radical affordable price point.”
They have been in the shoe industry for decades, and have been making shoes for well-known brands. Their solution to keep prices lower? Making it simpler for everyone. Make the shoes & distribute them directly to the end customer. They hand select all the materials and insure quality throughout the process. This is another great company catering to locals yet selling internationally through major department stores.
Founded in 1984 by Juan Perán Ramos, who is it’s current Honorary Chairman, the company has over 500 creatives who are inspired by connecting to causes and communities. As a result of this commitment, in 2009 Pikolinos Solidarity was founded, a label that encompasses all Pikolinos’ social projects.
Pikolinos Solidarity consists of special collections launched in partnership with communities at risk of social exclusion and people with special needs in order to support their sustainability and integration and, of course, to sow hope and encouragement in their hearts
According to their website, “Pikolinos is a lifestyle, a way of seeing the world. It is the search for happiness that always begins with the comfort of our creations. Make yourself comfortable and let happiness begin at your feet.” They practice what they preach. Through the Juan Perán-Pikolinos Foundation they partner with over 70 NGOs and more than 16,000 families benefit from our projects every year.
For a little feel good reminder about why we live here, watch the video below. This company does well by doing good.
Pikolinos - Creatives at Work
A Shoe Company that Knows Happiness is Contagious
Mallorca has been, and continues to be, the island of fashionable feet. From the high-end to the everyday sandal, Mallorca has a shoe for any budget. I couldn't include all of the shoe manufacturers here. But this gives you a starting point to discover your favorite Sabater here on Mallorca. With materials sourced and handcrafted locally, the shoe industry makes it easy to #BuyLocal.
- Personal experience
- corporate websites
- Museum of Footwear and Industry
31 January, 2021