Shoes have always served practical, social and fashion purpose in our daily lives as long as we remember. Today, shoes vary dramatically in design, size, material and even in types. Such as: sneakers, boots, sandals and high-heals. We have abundant choice of shoes to choose from depending on the occasion. But how did they look in the older times? Were they made of leather, wood maybe silk? When did we start using shoes?
The earliest time, the archeologists and paleoarcheologist suggest that shoes were invented around the Middle Paleolithic period which is approximately 40.000 years ago based on the drawings of people with shoe like wrappings in caves. However, at the time shoes were not used daily by the population. Starting from the Upper Paleolithic period, shoes became consistent usage of the citizens. The earliest shoes that archeologists found is made of soft leather and looked like sandals or moccasins. Interestingly enough, we still wear sandals and loafers which resembles the moccasins. Thus, every footwear that we use today could be traced down back to the history.
Sandals are a simple form of shoes that are used daily but its origins can be traced down in history. As they are suited well to hot, dry climates, and rocky regions, sandals protect the foot from poisonous insects, stones, and burning hot sand as well as keeping the foot aired and cool. They were used by the Anasazi of the American Southwest 10000 years ago for protections. In Asia, Japanese created the geta, a wood soled sandal worn with socks called tabi. For over 2,000 years, the geta has been a platform style sandal, like a flip-flop that kept the foot elevated from dampness and mud. In Egypt sandals’ purpose was focused more the on social status of the owner. Sandals depicted on the tomb of Ancient Egyptian reliefs look elegant in a way. Beautiful sandals were a symbol of high social status. They were worn by the elite outdoors. One such example of this could be seen when Howard Carter discovered and opened the tomb of King Tut (1341 – 1323 BCE) he found 93 separate items or fragments of footwear including elaborately decorated flip-flops with marquetry veneer. The Creeks used sandals, especially the gladiators, whose sandals are still popular today.
As for moccasins, they are made out of a single piece of leather that is stitched together with laces. The basic moccasins were used for thousands of years worldwide.
Shoes were just protective method for years until the Middle ages. During Middle ages, evolution in shoes design and purpose was made. The shoes started to be made for right and left foot. As technologies developed, new kind of creativity entered into the production of shoes. Shoes were made according to the fashion and design. Thus, this change resulted in conveying of social status on the wearer. The first real fashion trend was seen in the 1100s. In this period long-pointed toes were popular. Only the rich and elite class had access to long pointed shoes during this period. As people’s desire to gain the famous shoes increased, regulations on what to wear were passed. These regulations restricted the types of clothing a person could wear depending on their station to prevent the people who are starting to get rich from mimicking the elite class. Restrictions were placed on the length of a shoe’s toe, limiting the length according to the wearer’s income and position in society. These long-pointed shoes were thing back in the 1990s, too. Later in the 15th century, high-heels came into trend. During this time wearing high-heels signified the status and wealth of the wearer. In the 17th century, it was a period for buckled shoes.
As for today, shoes have become a symbol of expressing oneself instead of social status. Shoes designs and trends evolve from season to season. However, their roots can always be found in the history.