For thousands of years, humans have been either barefoot or adorning simple footwear to protect the soles of their feet. Sandals have been a blessing during all kinds of weather. Sandals save the soles and toes from scorching heat in the summers and act as a covering in colder climates. Shoes such as moccasins are usually worn in a colder climate for adding warmth and saving feet from catching a cold. For a long time, sandals and moccasins providing sparse covering were adequate to protect the bottom of the feet from walking in rough terrain. However, foot problems due to walking barefoot consisted of several deep injuries. Today, everyday sandals and moccasins are still most commonly used for daywear footwear, but the world has been exposed to a variety of modern shoes providing comfort along with style.
Brief Timeline of Shoes
With the influence of modernity along with the evolution of the world, shoes have seen varieties based on style, region, comfort and fashion. Beginning from the earliest footwear in the form of 10,000 years old sandals to a variety of fashion shoes, pumps and heels, shoes have seen lavish designs and purposes. As society evolved, shoes found their place in theatre, ceremonies and costumes. The evolution of shoes made for ceremonies and costumes were fancy, extravagant and celebratory. These, however, were only used occasionally. Owing to their irregular and occasional use, comfort was not a priority for these shoes. Today, brands and people have adopted an attitude to combine comfort, styles and fashion for daily use.
42,000 years ago: Archaeologists suggests evidence of East Asians with people wearing shoes. A skeleton that was studied by an anthropologist showcases slimmer bones than other early humans who used to walk barefoot during that era. The study concluded that people in that time used to wear footwear to showcase their status. Studies also suggested that the foot anatomy of people between 26,000 and 30,000 years changed drastically and began looking robust due to the use of footwear.
27,000 years ago: An old Russian skeleton was found with small and lesser toe bones along with ivory beads around the ankle and foot. This suggested that the decoration on the footwear stated the fact of footwear being worn as a display of status in society.
10,000 years ago: The oldest shoe as scientists suggests came 10,000 years ago where people used to wear sandals made out of ropes. People in Oregon in the United States used to wear a leather sandal that was made out of a single piece of leather, tied over the foot using a rope for comfort and protection.
Ancient Footwear began from simple sandals that used to cover the sole and held to the foot with straps, ropes, straw, plastic, metal and old tires, etc. Suited for all rough terrains like rocky regions, hill-slopes, deserts and hot sand; ancient footwear was a protective shield from insects, thorns and injuries.
- The first-ever sandals to come into existence were between 8,000 to 10,000 years ago. These sandals were worn by the Anasazi of Southwest America. They wore braided and flexible sandals with a strap-shaped like a V.
- Later sandals called “Geta” were introduced in Japan that were wood soled sandals worn with socks called a “Tabi.” The “Geta,” however saw plenty of variations with time where it became a platform like a sandal that was much like a flip-flop of the current times.
- India had “Paduka” as their first-ever sandals that were made of wood and were open sandals held to the foot using a knob between the great and second toes.
- Sandals became common to people who could afford them
- Decorated flip-flops came into being in 1341-1323 BCE when Howard Carter discovered the tomb of King Tut.
A simple shoe made out of a single piece of leather; moccasins became popular quite soon after sandals. Mostly worn by indigenous Americans, moccasins were worn until the Middle Ages. Soon, people began decorating moccasins with beading and prints to create beautiful footwear.
Until the 19th century, the world has seen an evolution in the styles of sandals and moccasins. People had also seen clogs, pattens and sabots. It was in the 19th century that people started making shoes for the right and left feet. Until then both shoes were the same.
It wasn’t until the Late Middle Ages where people started using their creativity to produce shoes as an idea of fashion. Soon, long pointed shoes with elite and fancy styles, stilted mules, high heels and buckled shoes started pouring in giving women greater options to choose from.
By the 1590s, high heels were introduced.
From high heels to mules and protective boots, shoes have gone through several changes over the years. They have also been objects of desire and a practical requirement.