It is nearly impossible to imagine a life without shoes. As we go about our daily life, we consider them nearly a necessity. They protect our feet from bacteria and harmful, or disgusting substances. Some individuals use them as a fashion statement while some collect them as a hobby. Needless to say, shoes have become a significant part of all our of lives.
Shoes haven’t always been what they are today. They have evolved alongside us over the past fifty years to suit modern tastes and economical value. There were times when African slaves were not allowed to wear shoes or when women could not wear heeled ones. The evolution of shoes tells the story of social classes, economical crashes, and the evolution of humans. To fully understand the extensive history of shoes, it is vital to take a look back into the past to the times of feudalism in the Middle Ages.
The early 1900s provided a break through in the definition of a shoe. No longer were they just a means to protect your sensitive feet, but they became a fashion statement. The pop culture movement in the early twentieth century was associated with the desire to be different and unique. Higher-quality and more expensive footwear rapidly became replaced with footwear made from cheaper, raw materials.
These shoes were now colorful, trendy, and subject to change. The footwear industry was greatly influenced by Hollywood actors and celebrities such as the Beatles and Audrey Hepburn. Audrey Hepburn became known for popularizing the kitten heels and the Beatles for Chelsea shoes.
Around this time in history, the women’s movement was in progress which meant that there was an increase in the amount of working women. With this cause a popular interest in high heels. While platform shoes took center stage in previous years, this low-heeled shoes quickly took over due to their convenience. Low heeled shoes were suitable for everyday wear and added a bit of height to a woman’s figure.
Later into the twentieth century, sneakers began to steal the spotlight from heels. Sports shoes such as “Converse” in 1917 began being released for sports players. Historians consider this to be the nation’s first step towards the sports shoes industry that we now have today.
The new step toward the industry came from a company called the “U.S Rubber Company.” They had succeeded in creating a comfortable, trendy, fabric-made shoe suitable for outdoor use and sports. It took a long, twenty-five years for these shoes to be perfected, but once they were, mass production began.
It was around 1950 when the era of social classes and “ladies and gentlemen” ended. The introduction of sneakers revolutionized the footwear industry and sparked a movement of creativity, style, and improvisation.
Nowadays, there are sneakers to fit everyone’s style or needs. Companies such as Nike and Adidas have taken the world by the storm by creating customized sneakers or released “Limited Edition” ones. Every household now owns at least one pair of shoes!