By using this website, you agree to our policy on the use of cookies. For more information see our Privacy Policy, where you can disable them.

OK
en

24 . 3 . 2022

Handcrafted Shoes

The History of Shoes

The history of shoes is one that spans for thousands of years, stretching back to the Ice Age. However, their beginnings were as humble as one could think of: the need to protect our feet and ourselves.

Protection and security are the two basic necessities that gave birth to the history of shoes.

But as the years and centuries progressed, what began as a practical endeavor transformed itself into a flourishing industry integral to our everyday lives, both in function and statement.

If you are as passionate about the history of shoes and the world shoemaking as we are, then you are also probably interested in how they evolved through the ages. And if that’s case, then read on.

 

What is the History of Shoes

In this context, the history of shoes is a brief description of how footwear began and evolved throughout the different eras in which society developed. 

The history of shoes is both fascinating and complex. Long enough to write a whole book about it, which in truth could not be done in just a few hundred words. Nor would we do it justice.  

Remember the entire human history could be told from the point of view of the shoe.

It would be impossible to imagine humanity without any kind of footwear and the history of shoes.

Even if thousands of years later they still share the same basic characteristics, nevertheless transformed by colors, designs and materials.

So, where did the history of shoes begin? Any thoughts?  

 

The History of Shoes throughout the Ages

To better understand the history of shoes, we have condensed it into four different parts, from antiquity up until the modern days. From the protection needed to survive during the ice ages, up to the online s shopping experience we are all accustomed to today. 

And as the popular expression says: “we should begin at the beginning”.

 

History of Shoes in Antiquity

The history of shoes begins with the basic footwear production designed to protect the feet from harsh weather conditions. This was particularly true during the Ice Age period, when moving and hunting were a constant part of daily survival techniques.

But as the ice retreated, the history of shoes fast forwarded into Egypt and classic antiquity, dating back to the Greek and Roman periods, where society truly began to give its first steps and establish itself.

Leather sandals were the first type of common shoe model to emerge within the history of shoes.

However, social status still very much defined who were the ones capable of acquiring them, as well as ‘where’ to used them. During this time, many were those still walking around barefooted, namely in warmer regions.

Different colors were also used to distinguish different social standings. Soldiers too had their own types of sandals and boots, with sturdier characteristics mostly designed to keep protecting their feet during long tiresome marches. 

For a while, sandals dominated the history of shoes, mainly in Europe. They were made according to the position one had in society which, in short, was usually one of the following: peasant, military personnel, nobility or the elite class, and the clergies. 

However, slowly but steadily, shoe production began to thrive, and the history of shoes evolved into the Middle Ages. 

 

History of Shoes in the Middle Ages

Also known as the ‘Dark Ages’ for a number of reasons, the truth is the history of shoes was exceptionally brighter throughout the Middle Ages, when many new trends and shoe designs first appeared, including the use of a heel.

During this time, shoe structure was still somewhat primitive, but new patterns and colors were also making their first debut into the history of shoes.

Fashion and a sense of taste were becoming important, mainly within high-end society.

Boots were also very important during this period of the history of shoes, largely due to the same reasons they were first invented: they helped protect the feet, but they could also be warmer by adding some fur or hay inside them to improve comfortability.

A particular design called “the poulaines” also emerged during this time of the history of shoes. They had long, pointy tips – sometimes as long as 50 cm. If you can imagine a court jester, these would probably be what he would be wearing.

 

The Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution

The history of shoes implies fashion that used to change much slower than it does today. And it usually began in countries with a greater economy and high standards of art, aesthetics and culture. Such is the case of Italy and France, countries where artists flourished and where shoe design was not an exception. 

During the renaissance history of shoes, designs created within such countries were common to spread across all of Europe.

This includes the choices made by the Sun King Louis XIV, which demonstrated his supremacy by wearing high heels, which we now know them as the “French Shoes”.

Even the Tudors of England began to wear them. Only by the late 16th century did women began to demand the heels to be their own. 

During the 17th century, ankle boots and buckle shoes became the fashionable choice to make, and it was only in the 19th century that laces inevitably replaced buckles. By then, the Industrial Revolution had broken through the history of shoes.

It should be noted that during this period of the history of shoes, some were still too poor to acquire a pair of shoes, namely for the children. The common folk were used to either wear a simple pair of leather shoes or boots, according to their needs and many children still walked barefooted, especially in the poorer regions.

During the Industrial Revolution, the first footwear sewing machine came into being, which in turn gave birth to mass production.

Hundreds of shoes could now be made in one single day and footwear finally became widely available.

When the end of shoelaces began to be hardened, laced shoes as we know them today gained popularity within the history of shoes. One such example is the classic Oxford model, or the Brogue shoes for men.

 

History of Shoes in Modern Times

During the XX century, living standards generally improved for all. This meant there was a bigger opportunity for new designs and shoe styles to make an appearance. 

The history of shoes were also heavily influenced by both World Wars and the Great Depression, which called upon the use of different materials other than leather, satin of silk to design new models.

From 1950 onwards, a boom took place. 

Pop culture demanded individuality and people began to feel the need to make a fashion statement of their own. Trendy and colorful designs were now in vogue, and instead of kings and courts, Hollywood actors and world-renowned music bands influenced the fashion decision of the general population.

During the 1960’s, the Chelsea design spread like wildfire, much because of the Beatles which also left their mark in the history of shoes. By the end of the decade, a young Portuguese man named Carlos Santos was also beginning his own history of shoes, giving his first steps in an industry which he was passionate and sure about.

History of Shoes in the Middle Ages

Also known as the ‘Dark Ages’ for a number of reasons, the truth is the history of shoes was exceptionally brighter throughout the Middle Ages, when many new trends and shoe designs first appeared, including the use of a heel.

During this time, shoe structure was still somewhat primitive, but new patterns and colors were also making their first debut into the history of shoes.

Fashion and a sense of taste were becoming important, mainly within high-end society.

Boots were also very important during this period of the history of shoes, largely due to the same reasons they were first invented: they helped protect the feet, but they could also be warmer by adding some fur or hay inside them to improve comfortability.

A particular design called “the poulaines” also emerged during this time of the history of shoes. They had long, pointy tips – sometimes as long as 50 cm. If you can imagine a court jester, these would probably be what he would be wearing.

 

The Renaissance and the Industrial Revolution

The history of shoes implies fashion that used to change much slower than it does today. And it usually began in countries with a greater economy and high standards of art, aesthetics and culture. Such is the case of Italy and France, countries where artists flourished and where shoe design was not an exception. 

During the renaissance history of shoes, designs created within such countries were common to spread across all of Europe.

This includes the choices made by the Sun King Louis XIV, which demonstrated his supremacy by wearing high heels, which we now know them as the “French Shoes”.

Even the Tudors of England began to wear them. Only by the late 16th century did women began to demand the heels to be their own. 

During the 17th century, ankle boots and buckle shoes became the fashionable choice to make, and it was only in the 19th century that laces inevitably replaced buckles. By then, the Industrial Revolution had broken through the history of shoes.

It should be noted that during this period of the history of shoes, some were still too poor to acquire a pair of shoes, namely for the children. The common folk were used to either wear a simple pair of leather shoes or boots, according to their needs and many children still walked barefooted, especially in the poorer regions.

During the Industrial Revolution, the first footwear sewing machine came into being, which in turn gave birth to mass production.

Hundreds of shoes could now be made in one single day and footwear finally became widely available.

When the end of shoelaces began to be hardened, laced shoes as we know them today gained popularity within the history of shoes. One such example is the classic Oxford model, or the Brogue shoes for men.

 

History of Shoes in Modern Times

During the XX century, living standards generally improved for all. This meant there was a bigger opportunity for new designs and shoe styles to make an appearance. 

The history of shoes were also heavily influenced by both World Wars and the Great Depression, which called upon the use of different materials other than leather, satin of silk to design new models.

From 1950 onwards, a boom took place.

Pop culture demanded individuality and people began to feel the need to make a fashion statement of their own. Trendy and colorful designs were now in vogue, and instead of kings and courts, Hollywood actors and world-renowned music bands influenced the fashion decision of the general population.

During the 1960’s, the Chelsea design spread like wildfire, much because of the Beatles which also left their mark in the history of shoes. By the end of the decade, a young Portuguese man named Carlos Santos was also beginning his own history of shoes, giving his first steps in an industry which he was passionate and sure about.