Before becoming a fashion statement, shoes were made out of necessity. The history of shoes follows the history of humanity in quite an abstract and unusual way.
It is not like shoes became a status symbol in modern times. Quite the contrary, as you will soon learn from the timeline of shoe history. From heels to innovative Queen Victoria, here are over 15 fascinating facts regarding the history of shoes.
1. Shoes Are 40,000 Years Old
We love shoes. In fact, the main reason why many, to this day, can relate to Carrie Bradshaw is her love for expensive, one-of-a-kind footwear.
But, over 40,000 years ago, shoes started appearing, at least that's what archaeologists have found so far. It does not mean they were not present even longer.
To be factual, Middle Paleolithic times represent the begging of the shoe. They became a necessity in Upper Paleotolic times. And the rest is history... Well, not really, we still have a lot of exciting things to tell you.
2. Ancient Egypt Is Crucial For The History Of Shoes
For most, the first thing that comes to mind when someone mentions Ancient Egypt is the pyramids.
For shoe lovers, this is where things with shoes get a twist. Only the upper class wore shoes; therefore, the term "classy shoe" became a thing.
Bright red and sunny yellow were reserved for the rulers. The commoners wore sandals from papyrus. But slaves either went barefoot or wore palm trees to protect their feet. And to think they made all those pyramids while being shoeless in that sun?
3. Greek Actors Started The Whole Platform Shoe Trend
Ancient Greek actors wore platforms to appear stronger, to stand out. These old thick soles were reserved for those playing leading roles, while the rest performed in socks or barefoot.
Since men played all roles, women cannot take credit for the innovation of platforms or flatforms. Sorry, Vivienne Westwood!
4. High Heels Were Made For Men
Learning that high heels were made for men only is one of the most shocking facts in the surprising history of shoes.
Royals, soldiers, aristocrats, all males wore heels for various reasons.
In the XV century, Persian migrants wore high heels to protect their feet in stirrups. Sound legit. These migrants brought the high-heeled shoes to Europe, and this is where men went shoe crazy.
Blue blood males wore heels to appear taller and to make their legs look longer. In this time frame, between XV and XVII centuries, male legs were an object of affection.
5. King Louis XIV Was The Original Christian Louboutin
Red soles today are the synonym of luxurious, pricey, and fabulous creations by Christian Louboutin.
If you are not aware of the history of shoes, you must be thinking, "fantastic marketing, how did he think of it?"
Well, he didn't. And no, it wasn't Yves Saint Laurent. In the 1600s, the French King Louis XIV rocked the red sole shoes, and only aristocratic men were allowed to wear similar footwear.
The King had a thing for shoes, and in 1673 he issued a proclamation stating that only novelty could wear red soles and that no one could wear heels higher than his highest pair, which were five inches.
6. All Hail Queen Victoria
In the history of shoes, one name stands out: Queen Victoria.
The second-longest-serving monarch in British history hated lace-up botties and footwear with buttons. So, just before she became a Queen, in 1837, she ordered Joseph Sparkes Hall to find a way to make her shoes easier to put on.
He created the first elastic-sided boot made of tightly coiled wire covered in cotton. Three years later, they were proclaimed "the most perfect thing of its kind."
We are all wearing booties similar to those that Queen Victoria rocked for many decades with some adjustments.
7. Sneakers Were Made For Sneaking
In the early 1800s, another footwear found its way to the world's history of shoes.
Sneakers, as we know and love them, were first worn by correctional officers in England. They would "sneak" to check on inmates.
Though rubber soles were already made in the 1830s in Liverpool, and the word "sneak" was used in the XVI century in China, the late 1800s finally recognized sneakers as they are today.
In the States, in 1917, Keds started mass production of the comfy footwear, and that's how sneakers went from questionable beginnings to fashion staples.
8. Two Left Feet? Yes, Please
It appears that in the 1800s, people developed a passion for shoes. After so many years, centuries of wearing two-left shoes, shoemakers finally decided that it was about time to make a special one for the right foot.
It was in 1818 that upper circles started wearing one left and one right shoe. But, peasants would have to wait.
Clearly, the history of shoes shows that they were not made for comfort.
9. No History Of Shoes Is Complete Without Klompen
Clogs date back to 1230 AD and were found in Nieuwendijk, Amsterdam. Though this wooden footwear is not exclusive to Holland, it is one of the country's most recognizable symbols.
Other similar shoes were found in Japan and Spain. Yet, the Dutch clogs stood the test of time and even managed to get to Paris Haute Couture Week.
Since the original clogs were made from wood, people would use them to start a fire once they were worn out. Quite handy.
To patterns you see on the original clogs present various villages across the Netherlands, so it's no wonder that they have a special place in the history of shoes.
10. If You Think Your Heels Are High, Think Again
We are not yet in the modern times, where anyone can wear any footwear they like, most of the time.
The Renaissance was, by all means, one of the most exciting eras in the history of humanity. It was also quite an exquisite time for a shoe.
Kings wore high heels, but we are not talking about a few inches. European kings wore heels as high as 30 cm! They wanted to appear taller, and therefore, more powerful.
Ladies were more reasonable, as always, and wore platforms until late McQueen made celebrated alien shoes.
11. Average American Woman Owns 17 Pairs Of Shoes
Though the majority of women in the States have around 17 pairs, they only wore 4.
What's even more interesting is that 15 percent of all women admitted they have over 30 pairs.
Yet, some women are collecting footwear as art pieces. Celine Dion, Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton all have thousands of pairs each. So, owning only 17 pairs compared to their thousands is a good excuse to get a couple. ASAP!
12. Doc Martens Are The World's Most Popular Work Boots
Doc Martens are associated with music movements, rebellious youth, and if you happen to know a skinhead, you know they like to christen their new pairs with fresh blood.
However, there is a less troubling history behind these boots. In 1901, the Griggs family came up with a modest work boot. Simple, minimalistic, and made to last.
A German army doctor named Dr. Klaus Maertens was injured after skiing in 1945, so while recovering, he made adjustments and made them more comfortable.
In 1947 these boots, now known as Dr. Martens, became a hit, and to this day, they have a special place in the history of shoes.
13. A Different Kind Of Moon Boot
In case you forgot, astronauts landed on the moon in 1969. Of course, they wore specially made footwear, which had to be removed before returning to Earth to avoid potential contamination.
So, where are those boots now? Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin left their boots on the moon for safety reasons. Those same boots may be floating around, perhaps in a galaxy far, far away.
14. The Most Expensive Shoes In The World Are Out Of This World
Name: Antonio Vietri Moon Star Shoes
Worth: $19.9 Million
These are the most expensive shoes, and they were Designed in Dubai and Made in Italy. So, what's with that price?
The history of shoes is full of surprises, and when it comes to these beauties, a heel is made of solid gold, 30 carats of diamonds, and an XVI century Argentinian meteorite.
They are quite literally out of this world!
15. Salvatore Ferragamo Is Nikola Tesla Of The Shoe World
Only a true shoeaholic would dare compare an Italian shoe designer with one of the most influential scientists. But, bear with me.
Ferragamo started created shoes when he was 9, and when he needed something that did not look like a heal but gave a certain height, he invented wedges.
He invented the steel shank (an insert that supports the foot's arch) and carved it out of Sardinian cork. He continued developing his prototype and made his mark in the history of shoes.
It was all about inventing the Invisible Sandal, trendy today, as it was in the 1930s.
16. Shoefie Is A Word
Shoefie is a specific photo of your shoes. You cannot just a picture of your footwear and say it's a shoefie. You have to wear them, present them in their best light, pretty much like you would with a selfie.
It is a trendy term for shoe lovers, made from words shoe and selfie, and it should be treated with respect.
17. The Great Depression Brought Some Depressing Shoes
Between 1929 and 1933, the world was going through the Great Depression, and so did their footwear.
Black and brown worn-out Oxfords were everywhere, and to say that this was not the best time to be a shoe lover is an understatement.
Strangely enough, during another disaster, WWII, women's shoes became colorful, innovative, creative. It was a way to boost morale, though we are not sure how.
The History Of Shoes Is Something Else
And what's even crazier is that scientists are struggling to find out what makes us so attracted to footwear.
So far, we know that there is a connection between stilettos and sex, and it goes for all genders.
Obviously, height and power go hand in hand, and of course, shopping makes us happy. Happy feet equals more dopamine, so being shoe-crazy is actually healthy.
Please do not quote me on that, but I genuinely believe that shoes are a reflection of your style. And style makes one stands out. Do you agree, disagree?
Which of these historic facts did you found the most amusing? Who do you think is the best shoe designer? Drop us a comment and stay fabulous!