It’s hard to imagine what life was like when shoes weren’t discovered yet. Everything started because of a real and practical need to protect the feet from outside effects. This seemingly simple human need turned into a quickly growing industry in which design was just as important as functionality.
Comfortable shoes and the freedom to leave are the two most important things in life.Shel Silverstein
During different eras there were different views of the world, different understandings of culture and art, different economic and political factors which played an important role in the materials, shapes, pronts, and style used in people’s wardrobe.
Prehistory and Antiquity
There isn’t a certain pair of shoes marking the beginning of the history of footwear. This is because there were very different shoes for different climates and different materials used for shoes were available in different regions. In Northern regions, the footwear was made from thick leather and warmed up with fur and hay.
The Middle Ages
The first sandals emerged in ancient Egypt. They were made from palm leaves, papyrus fiber and raw leather. These sandals were stretched and tied at the end of the foot. At first, only clerics and the Pharaoh were able to wear them but later sandals were worn by all ancient Egyptians and the different colors symbolized a certain social class.
- Prehistory and Antiquity (2,5 million BC – 476)
- The Middle Ages (476 – 1453)
- The Modern Times (1453 – these days)
Men’s and women’s fashion was different during this period and until the end of the 18th century, it was mostly dictated by men. Men were the first to wear shoes with heels. Up until the end of the 18th century, men’s legs were considered to be the standard of beauty. Although women also wore fancy shoes, they were hidden under long skirts.
Earlier, fashion changed much slower and shoe trends and production started in countries in a good economic situation and with quickly developing art and aesthetics.
For example, Spain and Italy played a great role in costume design in the 16th century. Shoes that were made in these countries later spread widely across Europe.
During the Renaissance period, kings in Europe often wore shoes with very high heels in order to demonstrate their supremacy. Also, they could calmly walk straight through puddles as their heels were as high as 30 cm.
During the Renaissance period, pointed shoes were swapped with footwear called duck-billed with wide, squared noses. Meanwhile, women began to wear platforms. It was during the revival of culture and aesthetics that the noble knights thrived. They were the first to start wearing ankle boots because they were comfortable for horseback riding and fighting. And not just one pair but a whole closet full of fashionable shoes!