The eight we appreciate
A brief history of shoes
The eight we appreciate
The Moccasin (15,000 years old)
The Sandal (10,000 years old)
The Mule (6,000 years old)
The Clog (5,000 years old)
The Boot (4.500 years old)
The Monk Strap (15th Century)
The Oxford (17th Century)
The Pump (18th Century)
Basic Foot Cover
The earliest wrap around foot
protector was crudely crafted from
vegetable or animal material and
required to be attached to the foot
and leg with twine.
Sewing strengthened the crude shoe
and was improved with the addition
of soling (usually bark, fleece or fish
What came first ?
Shoes occurred before written history and
artefacts of pre-historic footwear are
rarely, if ever, found.
Clothing made from vegetable or animal
materials perish easily and when human
remains are found more often than not
the extremities are missing due to animal
Moccasins (15,000 yo ) and Sandals (10,000 yo)
vie chronologically as the oldest shoes.
Sandals were worn about 10,000 years ago
which coincides with the Neolithic Age (or
New Stone Age).
Sandals were the preferred footwear in
warmer climates and became fashioned
during the Greco-Roman Period. Then
were almost lost to history after the Fall of
the Roman Empire.
Steps in shoe evolution
Craft - Needles & Leather
Heels & Horses
The French Revolution
The Industrial Revolution
The Space Race
There are eight separate stages in the
evolution of shoes that bring us from
the earliest crude foot covers to the
sophisticated range and variety of
shoes we all enjoy today.
Remember too all are variations of the
eight basic shoe styles described by
Rossi , and all were invented by men
When people started living together, tasks for day
to day survival were shared among the community.
This also allowed our ancestors to engage in other
activities to benefit the whole community, such as
hunting and fishing
As collectives became more complex and ranking
systems developed, the ‘jack of all trade,’ approach
was replaced by specialisation, where individuals
were dedicated specifically to precise tasks e.g, the
production of certain items like clothing .
Clothing, became quite an art form and was worn
for decoration as much as protection.
Humans have known about weaving since
Palaeolithic era (about 50,000 years ago).
Needles & Leather
During the Upper Palaeolithic era
(40k- 25k years ago), needles with
eyes become precision tools used
for sewing skins and furs.
Moccasins can be traced back
15,000 years and the earliest
archaeological finds were decorated
suggesting shoes were worn for
more than protection.
In the 4th millennium BCE, the Sumerians
were noted artisans and wore clothing made
from treated animal skins. Flat thongs were
adapted for soldiers (1370 BCE) and once the
seafaring Phoenicians (1550 BCE to 300 BCE)
discovered leather dyeing, colours became a
badge of authority.
As the Mediterranean Civilisations adopted
footwear, they added to the styles and
embellishments whilst keeping shoe wearing
to the privileged.
Ancient Silk Routes
Paduka circa 3000
European clogs dated to
the 13th Century
Ancient Sumerians (c. 5500 and 4000 BC)
wore a back-less leather slippers called a
mulu (or mules). Similar to modern slippers
these were made from sumptuous leathers
and worn indoors.
The hierarchy of the newly formed Christian
Church indulged themselves in sumptuous
dress, including ornate pontifical mules,
whereas lowly clerics wore simple sandals
devoid of fashion and symbolism. Monks Sandal
Heels & Horses
During the Dark Ages (5th -10th century) crafts
fell into abeyance & shoes became very
expensive. Even those who could afford them
welcomed the opportunity to have their shoes
repaired. Heels were an economy measure.
The invading horsemen of Genghis Khan (1162 –
1227) wore small red Cuban heels to help them
become more secure in their stirrups. Moreover,
this allowed the moving archer the stability
necessary to fire with greater accuracy
Sumptuary laws were made for the purpose of restraining
luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate
expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, and furniture.
These were intended to regulate and reinforce social
hierarchies and morals through restrictions making it easier
to separate those of social rank and privilege from the hoi
The laws frequently prevented commoners from imitating
the appearance of aristocrats and also could be used
to stigmatize disfavoured groups within society.
Sumptuary Laws Antiquity
In Ancient Greece women were restricted to
three articles of clothing in public, most chose to
forgo wearing shoes.
From the days of antiquity, the right to wear
shoes was a privilege only afforded to the free-
men and the affluent.
Colour and styling, including the style of shoes
became the discernible means of depicting rank
in Roman times.
Sumptuary Laws Middle Ages
As trade and commerce increased during the
Middle Ages, towns became more centres of
wealth and feudal lords soon found
themselves in competition with a growing
wealthy middle class.
Once the nobility found their position of
supremacy encroached upon, they passed
sumptuary laws to put a check on the
ostentatious display of the nouveaux riche.
The Laws also allowed the upper classes to
indulge themselves in grave excesses.
The Poulaine – long toed shoes
Sumptuary Laws Elizabethan period
Despite steep financial penalties many people ignored
the laws because the nouveaux rich could well afford to
pay them. They also found ways to circumvent the
By the end of the Elizabethan period many questioned
the need to enact them at all since they felt high living
was advantageous to the nation. This was of course
provided the luxuries were manufactured at home since
it encouraged domestic manufacture and commerce.
Some men supported
sumptuary laws because
they did not want to have
their wealth squandered
by wives and concubines
The French Connection
(1519 – 1589)
Louis XIV (1638 –1715)
The French Revolution (1789 – 1799)
The French Connection II
The Clog The Oxford Shoe Fashion Heels
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