Initially shoes were made to protect human feet against the hard surface and the unfavorable climate. They were meant to cover the feet. Earlier footwear was more like a sandal. A pair of sandals from California is the oldest pair of shoes that is still in use. These are almost 9,000 years old. They are made up of plant fibers and look very simple. People used to wrap a piece of hide and tie it with a leather thong around their feet, in the middle ages.
The shoe styles have evolved gradually over the years.
The European peasants started wearing another kind of shoe in the beginning of the twelfth century, which was made up of a single piece of wood. This shoe was named sabot. Sabot was improved upon by clog in England. It had a wooden sole while its upper part was made up of fabric.
Later, Count of Anjou designed special kind of shoes which were pointed in shape as he wanted to hide his own differently shaped feet. This type of shoe was introduced by the elite class of French people. In the sixteenth century, the elite French women started to wear high heeled shoes. This led to the concept of well-heeled women means women belonging to rich class.
Shoes were made with the help of hand tools like curved awl, chisel-type knife and the scraper in the 14th century, BC. These tools were used in Egypt. After some time, tools like hammer, lapstones, a variety of rubbing sticks and pincers were also used.
In 1760, the first industrial unit was set up in Lynn, Massachusetts, to mechanize the production of shoes. In 1870, a native of Dutch Guiana, Jan Matzeliger, immigrated to United States, developed a shoe lasting machine and helped in revolutionizing the shoe industry. In just one minute this machine could attach a sole to the shoe.
There are two interesting incidents on shoes:
– When Imelda Marcos, the former First Lady fled to Hawaii following the People's Power Revolution in 1986, she had almost 3,400 pairs of shoes.
– Robert Wadlow, who was 8 feet 11 inches tall, was the world's tallest man. He wore the largest shoe which was of size 37.
There are various kinds of shoes:
For cardiovascular conditioning, sports persons need walking exercises. For such exercises, they require shoes that are light in weight. To reduce the pain in the heel, they allow extra shock absorption at the heels. There are some walking shoes that have slightly rounded sole which moves the weight to the toe from the heel.
Running shoes provide a cushioning impact, heel control and absorb shock at the heel to the joggers and runners.
For aerobic conditioning, aerobic shoes are supposed to be light in weight. Their soles have to be shock proof so as to prevent the foot stress.
Sports shoes have to be designed with the help of varied materials. They must provide comfort to the sports persons and must also prevent injury.
Shoes have and will always play an integral role in the world of fashion.
Dan Deardorf is author of this article on Shoes.
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