The History of Shoes

For this blog article, we would love to share the history of shoes and some of the most important creations that inspire us.

The history of the shoe goes back well before our era, and it has always been a means of showing its social status. Come with us back in time and discover how the shoe has evolved!


During excavations in the Tianyuan cave near Beijing, scientists concluded that the shoe was created over 40,000 years ago! Indeed, research on bone development has shown that wearing shoes modified the skeleton of the foot. However, there are no remains of shoes from the time. The first visual evidence of footwear was found in cave paintings. Dating from 13,000 to 15,000 years ago, the scenes depict hunters wearing animal skins and fur boots. Then the discovery of Ötzi's mummy proved that humans wore shoes 5,000 years ago. Indeed, his shoes were lined, closed with lace and provided by a notched sole. The upper and the outsole were made of different types of leather.

The art of shoeing in ancient Egypt: 

Among the objects found in ancient Egyptian tombs, besides the magnificent fabrics and precious jewellery, there are also sartorial attributes that have long been overlooked in shoes. The deceased brought them to his grave with the furniture so that he could enjoy them in the days to come.


These shoes generally have a wide range of manufacturing processes that can provide specific knowledge and other information on processing techniques using multiple materials (plant fibre, wood, leather). They also provide information on the social status of the deceased. Indeed, in ancient Egypt, wearing shoes indicated a certain level of society. Many people walk barefoot. For example, the king's sandal holder holds an enviable title in the house of the pharaoh.

From the period of Pharaoh Egypt (2700 BC to 30 BC) to the Arab period (641 AD) to Roman Egypt (30 BC) to 395 AD Coptic (AD 395-641), there is a wide range of footwear:


- sandals, when the sole is held only by straps;

- boots or booties when the ankle is hidden;

- boots when the calf is covered;

- mules when the toes and the top of the foot are partially covered. 

 the middle ages and the shoes :

Roman Campus:

A campagus denoted a shoe in the style of sandals. It concerns a Roman patrician's shoe, Purple in colour, it is reserved for emperors.

Shoes in the Middle Ages are very refined for the nobles and are made of very soft leather. The foal was, in the 15th century, the shoe of preference for the upper classes.

Elongated and pointed in shape, they could measure up to 50 cm, depending on social class. The most refined models were embroidered in silk and had beautiful floral or decorative motifs. Whale baleen was even sometimes used as a stiffener at the point!

Foal skate: wooden foal skate (right) is on display at the Bally Museum. The foal is a type of shoe that dates from the Middle Ages. Its particularity is its very pointed and elongated end. The longer the foal, the more it means that you belong to a higher social class. The king could lengthen it as much as he wanted.


The shoe was banned in 1368 by Charles V because with it, it was difficult to kneel to pray. However, shoes remained in fashion until the 1470s.

The Chopine: 

The Venetian pints, held at the foot by ribbons, had bases of an exaggerated height to hoist the women up and thus show them off.

Pints ​​were particularly worn in Venice, Italy, by courtesans and patricians around 1400-1700. In addition to its practical use, the size of the pint becomes a symbolic cultural and social reference for carriers. Tall pints allow a woman to literally and figuratively extend her status. During the Renaissance, pints became a fashion item and were subsequently produced incredibly larger; some were around 50 centimetres (20 inches) Shakespeare scoffed at the extreme size of pints by using the term altitude.


Today's pints are typically made from wood or cork and some in the Spanish style are made from metal. The materials are covered with leather and velvet. According to some studies of this kind of shoes, pints caused an unsteady and ungainly gait. The women who wore them were generally accompanied by a servant or a guard on whom they could balance themselves3. Others maintain that with training a woman could walk and dance gracefully. In his dance manual entitled Nobilità di dame (1600), the Italian dancer Fabritio Caroso writes that with training, a woman wearing pints could move “with grace, sensuality, and beauty” 5. The pints were generally shod with the help of two servants.


Between the 13th and 17th centuries, pints were also worn in Spain. Their popularity in Spain was so great that they were implanted in the Spanish culture. Spanish pints were often much more conical and symmetrical in shape.

 The funnel boot : 

Funnel boots, or cauldron boots, worn by men, raised over the leg for riding and lowered for walking.

At the beginning of the reign of Louis XIV, the boot was no longer allowed except for riding; a Gascon shoemaker, Lestage, made himself a universal reputation by putting on the seamless boot in 1663.


Around 1652, the fashion was for pointed shoes. Twenty years later, they became square again, the heel rising again, probably because Louis XIV wanted to increase his height. It was he who, at the beginning of his reign, had the heels of his shoes trimmed with red leather, and the courtiers hastened to imitate him; in England, red heels and soles had been worn since the beginning of the 17th century. Between 167o and 168o, a loop replaced the knots on the top of the shoe.

As for women's shoes, they were inspired by masculine forms, with heels much higher and initially straight; but they were often in brocaded silk or velvet. Some leather shoes were decorated with silk embroidery; we know of others in silver embroidered velvet, even for men, from the Louis XIV period.

Embroidered damask shoe: 

During the reign of Louis XIV, heels were worn by both men and women. This damask woman's shoe embroidered with gold and silver thread bears witness to the refined materials used, a sign of nobility

Bethmale clogs : 

The shape of these clogs of the traditional Ariège costume comes from a legend. A shepherd cut long spikes in his hooves to plant the heart of his unfaithful bride on the left, and that of his lover on the right.

The Moors invaded the South of France and especially the Pyrenees in the 9th century. They occupied the valley of Bethmale under the leadership of their chief "Boabdil". The chief's son fell in love with the prettiest girl in the valley. It was called "Esclarlys", which means "complexion of lilies against a background of light". Esclarlys was already betrothed to the shepherd dog hunter "Darnert". The latter had taken refuge in the mountains with his companions to organize revenge.


Bethmale's hoovesDarnert uprooted two walnut trees, the base of which formed a right angle with the roots. Using an axe and a knife, he cut and hollowed out a pair of hooves (slops) in the shape of a crescent moon with a long, sharp point like a dart. Then one day, the shepherds, Darnert at their head, made the "hillets" resound and fought a hard fight from which they emerged victoriously. Then they marched through the village. Garnet, putting on his long-pointed clogs, had caught the heart of the unfaithful Bethmalaise on the left and that of the Moor on the right.


Since that time, on Christmas Eve, the groom has offered his bride a pair of long-pointed clogs, dressed in leather and richly decorated with golden spikes drawing a heart (on the top of the hoof). He also offers a red distaff and spindle, all made with all his love - the longer the tips of the hooves, the fiercer the love. In return, the bride gives him a woollen sweater embroidered with velvet and a purse plumed with ribbons, sequins or jet.

The revolutionary mule :

During the French Revolution, the shoe harmonized with the spirit of the times. We erase what recalls the luxury of the aristocracy by playing with the new symbols.



Pump from Sarkis Der Balian : 

Among all the bottiers and shoemakers gone abroad after the diaspora following WWI, the most prominent became Sarkis Der Balian, a native of Aintab in Cilicia. One of the many orphaned children, he learned the trade in the postwar period with the shoemaker who took care of him and, when grown up, set off for France to seek his own fortune.


Of all the bottiers and shoemakers of the Diaspora, the greatest was Sarkis Der Balian, a native of Aintab in Cilicia. One of the many children who were orphaned, he learned the job after the war from the shoemaker who took care of him and, when he grew up, he left in search of fortune for France.


Dr Martens :

1st shoe mounted on an air cushion, the symbol of the British Underground, Dr Martens has established itself as an emblematic model and identity of anti-contested cultures.

 Since its inception in 1960, Dr Martens boots have achieved iconic status. A timeless accessory that has survived the generations and kept its fashion potential intact. How did a pair of shoes originally intended for workers manage to conquer the manosphere? A look back at the history and evolution of the fashion brand and its iconic Dr Martens model.


The origins of the Dr Martens brand

It all started at the end of the 1940s in Munich, when Klaus Maertens, doctor of medicine, invented a revolutionary shoe after being injured while skiing. He designed elevated boots with air-cushioned soles for the first time, an alternative to traditional leather soles. These comfortable boots make it easier for him to walk after his accident.


An innovation that conquers the German population in just a few years. At the end of the 1950s, the range extended to more than 200 different models. The enthusiasm is such that the British industrialist Benjamin Griggs, a specialist in utility footwear, is not long in hearing about the German brand.


On April 1, 1960, the alliance between Klaus Maertens and Benjamin Griggs gave birth to the first model of Dr Martens boots, as we know it today. Cherry red, this now legendary shoe bears the name "1460", about its release date.

Dr Martens, trendy and timeless boots

In the 2000s, the sportswear style was at its peak and ousted the Dr Martens brand from the fashion scene. On the verge of bankruptcy, the label succeeded in reinventing itself by associating itself with great designers, from Yohji Yamamoto to Jean Paul Gaultier via Raf Simons.


Over the years, the Dr Martens brand has continued to innovate and reinterpret its flagship models. Since 2008, the brand has been committed to eco-responsible fashion and has gone green with its flagship models with a 100% vegan range, ranging from Chelsea boots, platform sandals and 1460 synthetic leather boots.


From the punk movement to the British style through to the grunge and rock years, Dr Martens has crossed generations and influences, without taking a wrinkle. 1460, the legendary pair of boots, is today a true fashion chameleon, as comfortable on a catwalk as on stage or the asphalt. 


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