The History of the Shoe | From Ancient Egypt to Hollywood

The earliest known shoes to man are a pair of sandals found in Oregon, USA that can be dated from approximately 7,000 BC. It is thought that there are shoes that date earlier than this, but due to the perishable materials that early shoes were made from, no evidence can be found of their existence.

In Ancient Egyptian times, the earliest forms of the modern flip-flop would have been worn. These flip-flop sandals would have been made from a variety of materials including palm leaves. One of the earliest known users of footwear for decorative purposes rather than practical reasons were the Egyptians and Hindus who wore sandals with no soles, known as a ‘Cleopatra’.

Sports trainers were a much later development, Athletes in the Ancient Olympic Games participated barefoot! The earliest known pair of athletic shoes date back to the mid-19th century, a simple pair of track spikes made of leather with metal spikes on the soles.

Eventually the modern shoe was born with a sewn-on sole. Since the 17th Century, the majority of leather shoes have adopted the sewn-on sole which remains standard for finer quality designer men’s shoes today such as Oliver Sweeney’s Leather Brogues. Up until 1800, shoes were made identical to one another, with no differentiation between the left and the right foot.

Fairy tales have played an important role in the history of the shoe, with shoes becoming central parts to the plot. For example in Cinderella’s Glass Slipper and There Was An Old Lady Who Lived In A Shoe. Movies have helped to pave the way for shoes to become iconic, for example the ruby red slippers worn by Judy Garland in The Wizard of Oz. There are some beautiful designer shoes such as Salvatore Ferragamo’s Vara patent pump which would make any girl want to click her heels together three times and say, “There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home…”


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