A brief history of shoes

Walking barefoot on hot tarmac pavements, climbing mountains without any protection for your feet... no, it doesn't sound fun, it sounds painful! A time without shoes is very difficult to imagine. Our modern footwear not only protects our precious feet, but also gives us more stability whilst walking. Shoes can make us look taller, give us more confidence, and often shoes are even able to help alleviate certain foot conditions.

Therefore it is especially important that your shoes fit properly; ill-fitting shoes can affect not only your actual feet but also your ankles, knees, and sometimes even your hips. Shoes that are too small and too tight can't absorb the impact of walking. This may cause calluses and even ingrown toenails, just to name a few problems. On the other hand, shoes that are too big and too loose can also cause issues such as blisters because your foot moves around inside the shoe too much. An interesting fact is that shoes used to have a straight form and weren't adapted to the shape of your left and right foot. It was not until the late 19th century that shoes began to be made in pairs to match the shape of your feet. Straight shoes must have been extremely uncomfortable, right?

Culture & Fashion

There are many different types of shoes that differ from culture to culture. But, of course, global shoe fashion has unified what we wear on our feet to a great extent nowadays. Even so, there are still some cultural differences when it comes to shoes. For example, in China, it is considered rude to show the bottom of your feet to somebody. In Arab countries, on the other hand, it is considered impolite to show the soles of your shoes when you are sitting down. New shoe trends are followed around the world; some shoes are even perceived as status symbols. It is not only the quality and the price of a shoe that determines its status, but also the designer, the style, and how fashionable it is.

Shoe fashion trends change, often in connection to clothing trends. In the 1970s, for example, platform shoes were very popular. In the 1990s, "grunge" fashion was in, and boots were a must-have item. In the early 2000s, it was all about being sporty, and sneakers became more popular than ever. Currently, 80s-inspired sneakers, such as the berry-red Tretorn Nylite Plus or cool boots like Kenneth Cole's Captain Boots are extremely popular. Smart casual shoes for men, such as the Nio Wing Lace Ups and the Hope Driver Loafers, are also very popular because they are not only fashionable but also extremely versatile.

Vintage-inspired sneakers

For every occasion, you will find suitable footwear now. There are shoes for sports, work, parties, and even shoes that you can wear in the water! It is amazing to think about how shoes have developed and evolved over the years. If you're going for a hike in the woods, you'll want something sturdy such as the durable Bowman boots and if you're going to the gym, a pair of Loyola 2.0s will suffice. And what about the trendy Estate 2.0 Loafers for a night out?

Estate 2.0 Kenneth Cole

This shoe variety hasn't always been the case. In the past, you might only have had one pair of shoes. These would have been your everyday shoes, and you would have worn them for every occasion. Your precious footwear would have been mended and repaired repeatedly until they were eventually worn out. Let's look at the history of shoes and how they've evolved over time.

A brief history of shoes

The history of shoes is fascinating as it can tell us a lot about the culture and fashion of different periods. Shoes are an incredibly old accessory! Based on archaeological findings, researchers believe that the first pairs of shoes were "invented" around 40,000 years ago and looked like basic sandals or moccasins. Basically, your feet would have been engulfed by natural materials such as animal skin, held together by laces or straps. The first shoes were created to protect the feet from cold, sharp objects and hot surfaces. The Fort Rock sandals were found in 1928 and are believed to be the oldest shoes in the world, dating back to around 9000 BC. These early sandals were made of shredded (and probably scratchy) sagebrush bark.

Fort Rock Sandals

As time went on, these very basic foot protectors evolved into what we would today call shoes. In mediaeval times, shoes often had pointed toes. This was because it was considered fashionable at the time. Depending on your social class, shoes in the early Baroque period were made of different material combinations, such as silk and leather.

Interestingly, women's shoes and men's shoes were quite similar in style until the early 1800s. The industrial revolution and the rise of the middle class changed the shoe industry forever. Mass production methods meant that shoes could be made much more cheaply and were therefore accessible to a wider range of people. New materials such as rubber, PVC, and nylon were also introduced, which had an impact on both the style and function of shoes.

Today's shoe fashion

New trends, bold colors, and innovative materials—shoes today are nothing like they used to be! Explore our fantastic range of shoes for every occasion. There is so much variety! As we have seen, the history of shoes is long and varied. Shoes have come a long way since the early days of being little more than animal skin wrapped around your feet!