Updated: Jul 12
The introduction and evolution of footwear date back to 40,000-year history. A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the human foot. Shoes are an integral part of fashion and lifestyle accessory, having evolved through cultural inspirations to geographic location. The history, changes and tendencies in footwear fashion can be divided into the main world history eras:
Prehistory (2,5 million BC- 1250 BC)
Antiquity (1250 BC - 476)
The Middle Ages (487- 1453)
Early Modern Times (1453 – 1918)
Modern Times (1918- these days)
With ever-evolving times, and changes in cultural adaptations due to different economic and political factors the world of footwear style has been ever-changing. Primitive footwear, popular during prehistory, was changed by sandals which grew in popularity during Antiquity because of the formation of the social classes. During the Middle Ages, the first heel was discovered and widely used. During the Early Modern Times were the eras of Renaissance and Baroque during which hints of modern footwear can be spotted. During this time, men’s and women’s shoes were very similar.
In 1991, Archeologists found a naturally mummified human named Oetzi from the Stone Age who died about 3300 years before our era at the border of Austria and Italy. This Alpine traveler was wearing shoes made from deerskin and soles made from bearskin stuffed with hay.
Fast-forwarding thousands of years to the beginning of modern footwear. In Europe’s early Baroque period, men and women’s shoes were very similar. However, the material was differentiated due to Social Class, heavy black leather heels for common folk and wood for aristocrats. In the 18th Century, silk fabric pairs were very much a la mode. Eventually, in the early 1800s, women’s and men’s shoes began to differ in various aspects. Most prominently after much fluctuation the standard for men’s heels finally settled at 1 inch. Interestingly, up until 1850, shows were just made straight, meaning that there was no differentiation from left and right. As the 20th century approached, shoemakers improved comfort by making foot-specific pairs.
The most exploration in terms of design, style, silhouette and material was noticed in the 20th century, a drastic evolution from decade to decade. Primarily due to technological advancements and ergonomic needs. During the Great Depression, black and brown shoes dominated the American market. Shortly after, Oxfords became a popular male choice and cork-soled, platform shoes grew popular among women.
As we all know, men’s shoe styles have remained relatively unchanged. Women’s footwear has seen a dramatic change in appearance from arched sophistication to narrower heels to define the elegance of the foot. To this day designers have a shoe design for every mood, occasion and preference and this will only get better with time.
Leather Care Tip:
Do blot away water or moisture as soon as possible from all your leather products.
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