A Very Brief History Of Shoes

Forty thousand years ago, humans developed a need to protect their feet from the weather. However, it took centuries for today’s elegant shoes to be developed.

Based on archaeological and paleontological evidence, experts hypothesize that shoes were invented in the Middle Paleolithic period, about 40,000 years ago. However, it was not until the Upper Paleolithic period that shoes were systematically worn by humans. 


The early prototype shoes were very soft, made of leather wrapped around them, and looked like sandals or moccasins. Our early ancestors walked bare feet, but while hunting and gathering, they needed something to protect their feet from sharp rocks, sticks, and the cold. So, they chose animal skins to cover their feet and protect the soles of their feet.


The ancient Egyptians wore flip-flops that could be made from animal skins or even papyrus or palm leaves, while other cultures used what they had to make their sandals from wood, straw, and animal skins of all kinds.


How Did the Shoe History Begin? 


The history of the shoe cannot be traced back to a single original shoe. Different climates require different types of footwear, from fur wrapped around the feet and calves to palm leaves tied under the feet. 


This early footwear offered protection against cold and heat, respectively. In cold regions, such inventions were the forerunners of boots, while in warm regions, they served as prototypes for sandals. Therefore, the development of shoes is greatly influenced by the respective conditions in various areas. 


How Shoes Began to Gain Worldwide Acceptance 

For most of our history, bear paws were much preferred, and any shoe or sandal, though readily available, was considered ugly, hedonistic, and ultimately unnecessary. However, the Romans branded shoes as an expression of civilization or a sign of power and status. In their day, the poor and enslaved people had to go barefoot. 


Native Americans also used shoes when not barefoot. They wear a type of shoe called moccasin made from animal skin to protect their feet. They were probably the first Americans to decorate their shoes, thus starting our fascination with shoe styles and colors.


In the Middle Ages, many peasants and commoners wore sandals with cloth uppers and soles made from various materials, including jute.


The Difference between Male and Female Shoes 

In the early 1800s, women’s and men’s shoes finally began to differ in style, color, heel, and toe shape. Lace-up shoes appeared around this time, and boots became extremely popular. After much volatility, the standard for a man’s heel has finally settled at 1 inch.


How the Differentiation in Shoes for the left and Right Feet Started 

Until 1850, shoes were made straight, meaning there was no distinction between left and right shoes. However, shoemakers improved comfort as the 20th century approached by creating shoes that fit the foot well.


Introduction of other Materials in Shoe Making 

In the 1900s, a revolution in materials and adhesives introduced new construction methods and replaced leather in all but some work shoes. Sneakers took America by storm after World War II by using plastic and other synthetic materials to produce extremely lightweight and durable shoes for sports and casual wear.



Mens crocs thongsDuring the 20th century, the face of footwear changed dramatically from decade to decade. This is partly due to the many technological advancements that have simplified the shoemaking process. Today, shoes have become more fashionable and comfy. They have also become a huge part of our everyday lives.

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