History of shoes. A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot. Shoes are also used as an item of decoration and fashion. The design of shoes has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with appearance originally being tied to function. Additionally, fashion has often dictated many design elements, such as whether shoes have very high heels or flat ones.
Many of French fashion media (like Marie Claire for example) think that until 1830, there was no right or left shoe, and both shoes were identical, and it is again French noticed that fits are actually different and required adapted forms of shoes. In fact not only French but also ancient Egyptians, and then Spartans and Romans, and actually all Europeans in Middle ages noticed this fact that left and right foot are actually different, and footwear should be adapted. That is why almost from the very beginning right and left shoe were produced like mirror images.
Another interesting fact: regulations on heel height were introduced in 1910 to ensure the decency of the dress style. If there was more than 8 cm of heels, then the outfit was considered very “risky”, and women’s dignity could be questioned.
The earliest known shoes are sagebrush bark sandals dating from approximately 7000 or 8000 before Christ, found in the Fort Rock Cave in the US state of Oregon. The world’s oldest leather shoe, made from a single piece of cowhide laced with a leather cord along seams at the front and back, was found in Armenia and is believed to date to 3500 before Christ. The Jotunheimen leather shoe was made between 1800 and 1100 before Christ, making it the oldest article of clothing discovered in Scandinavia.
These earliest designs were very simple in design, often mere “foot bags” of leather to protect the feet from rocks, debris, and cold. Although Many early natives in North America wore a similar type of footwear, known as the moccasin. Many moccasins were also decorated with various beads and other adornments. And that is how shoes style started.
As civilizations began to develop, thong sandals were worn. This practice dates back to pictures of them in ancient Egyptian murals from 4000 before Christ. One pair found in Europe was made of papyrus leaves and dated to be approximately 1,500 years old. The Egyptians and Hindus made some use of ornamental footwear, such as sandals known as a “Cleopatra”, which became another stylish accessory used in the palace.
As civilizations began to develop, the Spartans paid attention to the shoes for the army. Roman clothing was seen as a sign of power, and footwear was seen as a necessity of living in a civilized world. There are references to shoes being worn in the Bible.
A common casual shoe in the Pyrenees during the Middle Ages was the espadrille. This is a sandal with braided jute soles and a fabric upper portion, and often includes fabric laces that tie around the ankle. The term is French and comes from the esparto grass. The shoe originated in the Catalonian region of Spain as early as the XIIIth century, and was commonly worn by peasants in the farming communities in the area.
Many medieval shoes were made using the turnshoe method of construction, in which the upper was turned flesh side out, and was lasted onto the sole and joined to the edge by a seam. The shoe was then turned inside-out so that the grain was outside. Some shoes were developed with toggled flaps or drawstrings to tighten the leather around the foot for a better fit. Surviving medieval turnshoes often fit the foot closely, with the right and left shoe being mirror images.
By the XVth century, patters became popular by both men and women in Europe. These are commonly seen as the predecessor of the modern high heel shoe, while the poor and lower classes in Europe, as well as slaves in the New World, were barefoot. During the XVIth century, royalty, such as Catherine de Medici or Mary I of England, started wearing high-heeled shoes to make them look taller or larger than life. By 1580, even men wore them, and a person with authority or wealth was often referred to as, “well-heeled”.
Eventually the modern shoe, with a sewn-on sole, was devised. Since the XVIIth century, most leather shoes have used a sewn-on sole. This remains the standard for finer-quality dress shoes today. Shoemaking became more commercialized in the middle of XVIIIth century, as it expanded as a cottage industry. Large warehouses began to stock footwear, made by many small manufacturers from the area.
Until the XIXth century, shoemaking was a traditional handicraft, but by the century’s end, the process had been almost completely mechanized, with production occurring in large factories. Despite the obvious economic gains of mass-production, the factory system produced shoes without the individual differentiation that the traditional shoemaker was able to provide.
The first steps towards mechanization were taken during the Napoleonic Wars by the engineer, Marc Brunel. He developed machinery for the mass-production of boots for the soldiers of the British Army. In 1812, he devised a scheme for making nailed-boot-making machinery that automatically fastened soles to uppers by means of metallic pins or nails. With the support of the Duke of York, the shoes were manufactured, and, due to their strength, cheapness, and durability, were introduced for the use of the army.
A shoemaker in Leicester, Tomas Crick, patented the design for a riveting machine in 1853. His machine used an iron plate to push iron rivets into the sole. The process greatly increased the speed and efficiency of production. The sewing machine was introduced in 1846, and provided an alternative method for the mechanization of shoemaking. By the late 1850s, the industry was beginning to shift towards the modern factory, mainly in the US and areas of England. A shoe stitching machine was invented by the American Lyman Blake in 1856 and perfected by 1864. Entering into partnership with McKay, his device became known as the McKay stitching machine and was quickly adopted by manufacturers throughout New England. As bottlenecks opened up in the production line due to these innovations, more and more of the manufacturing stages, such as pegging and finishing, became automated. By the 1890s, the process of mechanization was largely complete. On January 24, 1899, Humphrey O’Sullivan of Lowell, Massachusetts, was awarded a patent for a rubber heel for boots and shoes.
Symbols of femininity and glamour, the stiletto heels revolutionized the world of footwear in the 1950s. This creation, which is attributed in turn to two great French shoes, has continued to embellish the silhouette of women and make men fantasize. The invention of high heels is sometimes credited to the French designer Charles Jourdan . This great name of the luxury shoe decided in 1951 to thin the heel of the classic shoe and hoist it to 8 cm height. It was a resolution and great dare for women.
This new profiled heel was an immediate success, which has never wavered in 50 years.
For other historians, the father of stilettos is the famous boot maker Roger Vivier, who designed the shoes of Christian Dior’s collections from 1953 to 1957. In 1954 he made the stiletto heel on the catwalks for ” finish the silhouette with a pencil stroke. This tapered heel is just one of the many creations of Roger Vivier, which has left its mark in the world of footwear.
Indeed, he owes the invention of the heel “mini”, “arched” or “comma”.
Since the middle of XXth century, advances in rubber, plastics, synthetic cloth, and industrial adhesives have allowed manufacturers to create shoes that stray considerably from traditional crafting techniques. Leather, which had been the primary material in earlier styles, has remained standard in expensive dress shoes, but athletic shoes often have little or no real leather. Soles, which were once laboriously hand-stitched on, are now more often machine stitched or simply glued on. Many of these newer materials, such as rubber and plastics, have made shoes less biodegradable. It is estimated that most mass-produced shoes require 1000 years to degrade in a landfill. In the late 2000s, some shoemakers picked up on the issue and began to produce shoes made entirely from degradable materials.