The Invention of Shoes

The first shoes were invented purely as a method for protecting the human feet. The human body as a whole is delicate; the feet in particular needing good protection. Even though initially shoes were worn for protection purposes, the majority of people could not wear shoes because of their high manufacturing costs. Shoes became viable and accessible to most people only when the mass production of shoes became a reality. In earlier times, there was negligible difference between male and female footwear. Ladies shoes were introduced with a special design by giving a high heel at the back of the shoe. But later high-heeled shoes were not only restricted to women; and have been worn by both men and women for many centuries throughout the world. Nowadays, there are different types of heeled shoes worn by males; such as cowboy boots, and the dancing shoes known as Latin or Cuban heels.

As far as the history of shoes goes, there is no exact timeline as to when exactly people started wearing them. Egyptian civilization shows some pictorial records of footwear, which dates back to around 5,000 years. And in Mesopotamia, in around 1600 to 1200 BC, people living in the mountains and hills are believed to have worn a special pair of soft shoes. These were foot coverings similar to those used to cover the body. The soft shoes were made of wraparound leather, very similar to moccasins.

Recently in an exhibition in China called the “Changsha Old Shoes Exhibition”, a varied collection of old historic shoes were showcased. Among them were a pair of 60-year-old embroidered shoes, another pair of women shoes around 130 years old, and their oldest specimen: a pair of clog shoes which were approx 150 years old. But the oldest recorded pair of shoes is held in the Museum of Natural and Cultural History, University of Oregon, which date back to about 10,000 years. However, in the academic world there is some debate regarding this, with disagreements in respect to the oldest pair of shoes to have ever been discovered.

The first available shoes were in the form of sandals, and as time has passed through different cultures, the design of shoes has been undertaken an enormous evolution. Nowadays, wearing shoes is no longer simply a practical necessity, but it has become one of the most important fashion statements. There is a huge range of styles available, with fashions constantly changing, and more and more daring and exuberant designs parading the catwalks as the decades pass. Ladies shoes are generally the items of greatest beauty and pleasure to their owners, (it has been suggested the average women’s wardrobe boasts a collection of 44 pairs [1]), but nowadays some men take equal pride in their footwear, also owning numerous pairs to suit different outfits.