A shoe is an item of footwear intended to protect and comfort the
human foot while the wearer is doing various activities. Shoes are
also used as an item of decoration and fashion. The design of shoes
has varied enormously through time and from culture to culture, with
appearance originally being tied to function. Additionally, fashion
has often dictated many design elements, such as whether shoes have
very high heels or flat ones. Contemporary footwear in the 2010s
varies widely in style, complexity and cost. Basic sandals may consist
of only a thin sole and simple strap and be sold for a low cost. High
fashion shoes made by famous designers may be made of expensive
materials, use complex construction and sell for hundreds or even
thousands of dollars a pair. Some shoes are designed for specific
purposes, such as boots designed specifically for mountaineering or
Traditionally, shoes have been made from leather, wood or canvas, but
in the 2010s, they are increasingly made from rubber, plastics, and
other petrochemical-derived materials. Though the human foot is
adapted to varied terrain and climate conditions, it is still
vulnerable to environmental hazards such as sharp rocks and
temperature extremes, which shoes protect against. Some shoes are worn
as safety equipment, such as steel-soled boots which are required on
1.2 Middle Ages and Early Modern period
1.3 Industrial era
1.4 Culture and folklore
Dress and casual
6 See also
9 Further reading
10 External links
The oldest known leather shoe, about 5500 years old, found in Armenia
Esparto sandals from the 6th or
5th millennium BC
5th millennium BC found in Spain
The earliest known shoes are sagebrush bark sandals dating from
approximately 7000 or 8000 BC, found in the
Fort Rock Cave
Fort Rock Cave in the US
Oregon in 1938. The world's oldest leather shoe, made from
a single piece of cowhide laced with a leather cord along seams at the
front and back, was found in the
Areni-1 cave complex
Areni-1 cave complex in
2008 and is believed to date to 3500 BC. Ötzi the Iceman's
shoes, dating to 3300 BC, featured brown bearskin bases, deerskin side
panels, and a bark-string net, which pulled tight around the foot.
Jotunheimen shoe was discovered in August 2006. Archaeologists
estimate that the leather shoe was made between 1800 and 1100 BC,
making it the oldest article of clothing discovered in Scandinavia.
It is thought that shoes may have been used long before this, but
because the materials used were highly perishable, it is difficult to
find evidence of the earliest footwear. By studying the bones of
the smaller toes (as opposed to the big toe), it was observed that
their thickness decreased approximately 40,000 to 26,000 years ago.
This led archaeologists to deduce that wearing shoes resulted in less
bone growth, resulting in shorter, thinner toes. These earliest
designs were very simple in design, often mere "foot bags" of leather
to protect the feet from rocks, debris, and cold. They were more
commonly found in colder climates.
Many early natives in
North America wore a similar type of footwear,
known as the moccasin. These are tight-fitting, soft-soled shoes
typically made out of leather or bison hides. Many moccasins were also
decorated with various beads and other adornments. Moccasins were not
designed to be waterproof, and in wet weather and warm summer months,
most Native Americans went barefoot.
As civilizations began to develop, thong sandals (the precursors of
the modern flip-flop) were worn. This practice dates back to pictures
of them in ancient Egyptian murals from 4000 BC. One pair found in
Europe was made of papyrus leaves and dated to be approximately 1,500
years old. They were also worn in
Jerusalem during the first century
of the Common Era. Thong sandals were worn by many civilizations
and made from a wide variety of materials. Ancient Egyptian sandals
were made from papyrus and palm leaves. The Masai of Africa made them
out of rawhide. In
India they were made from wood. In China and Japan,
rice straw was used. The leaves of the sisal plant were used to make
twine for sandals in South America while the natives of Mexico used
While thong sandals were commonly worn, many people in ancient times,
such as the Egyptians,
Hindus and Greeks, saw little need for
footwear, and most of the time, preferred being barefoot. The
Hindus made some use of ornamental footwear, such as a
soleless sandal known as a "Cleopatra", which did not
provide any practical protection for the foot. The ancient Greeks
largely viewed footwear as self-indulgent, unaesthetic and
unnecessary. Shoes were primarily worn in the theater, as a means of
increasing stature, and many preferred to go barefoot. Athletes in
Ancient Olympic Games
Ancient Olympic Games participated barefoot – and naked.
Even the gods and heroes were primarily depicted barefoot, the hoplite
warriors fought battles in bare feet and
Alexander the Great
Alexander the Great conquered
his vast empire with barefoot armies. The runners of Ancient Greece
are also believed to have run barefoot. Pheidippides, the first
marathoner, ran from
Sparta in less than 36 hours. After
the Battle of Marathon, he ran straight from the battlefield to Athens
to inform the Athenians of the news.
Footwear of Roman soldiers (reconstruction)
The Romans, who eventually conquered the Greeks and adopted many
aspects of their culture, did not adopt the Greek perception of
footwear and clothing. Roman clothing was seen as a sign of power, and
footwear was seen as a necessity of living in a civilized world,
although the slaves and paupers usually went barefoot. Roman
soldiers were issued with chiral (left and right shoe different)
footwear. There are references to shoes being worn in the
Middle Ages and Early Modern period
A common casual shoe in the
Pyrenees during the Middle Ages was the
espadrille. This is a sandal with braided jute soles and a fabric
upper portion, and often includes fabric laces that tie around the
ankle. The term is French and comes from the esparto grass. The shoe
originated in the Catalonian region of
Spain as early as the 13th
century, and was commonly worn by peasants in the farming communities
in the area.
Dutch pattens, ca. 1465. Excavated from the archeological site of
Walraversijde, near Ostend, Belgium
Many medieval shoes were made using the turnshoe method of
construction, in which the upper was turned flesh side out, and was
lasted onto the sole and joined to the edge by a seam. The shoe was
then turned inside-out so that the grain was outside. Some shoes were
developed with toggled flaps or drawstrings to tighten the leather
around the foot for a better fit. Surviving medieval turnshoes often
fit the foot closely, with the right and left shoe being mirror
images. Around 1500, the turnshoe method was largely replaced by
the welted rand method (where the uppers are sewn to a much stiffer
sole and the shoe cannot be turned inside-out). The turnshoe
method is still used for some dance and specialty shoes.
By the 15th Century, pattens became popular by both men and women in
Europe. These are commonly seen as the predecessor of the modern
high-heeled shoe, while the poor and lower classes in Europe, as
well as slaves in the New World, were barefoot. In the 15th
century, the Crakow was fashionable in Europe. This style of shoe is
named because it is thought to have originated in Kraków, the capitol
of Poland. The style is characterized by the point of the shoe, known
as the "polaine", which often was supported by a whalebone tied to the
knee to prevent the point getting in the way while walking. Also
during the 15th century, chopines were created in Turkey, and were
usually 7-8 inches (17.7-20.3 cm) high. These shoes became
Venice and throughout Europe, as a status symbol revealing
wealth and social standing. During the 16th century, royalty started
wearing high-heeled shoes to make them look taller or larger than
life, such as
Catherine de Medici
Catherine de Medici or Mary I of England. By 1580, even
men wore them, and a person with authority or wealth was often
referred to as, "well-heeled".
Eventually the modern shoe, with a sewn-on sole, was devised. Since
the 17th century, most leather shoes have used a sewn-on sole. This
remains the standard for finer-quality dress shoes today. Until around
1800, welted rand shoes were commonly made without differentiation for
the left or right foot. Such shoes are now referred to as
"straights". Only gradually did the modern foot-specific shoe
A shoemaker in the Georgian era, from The Book of English Trades,
Shoemaking became more commercialized in the mid-18th century, as it
expanded as a cottage industry. Large warehouses began to stock
footwear in warehouses, made by many small manufacturers from the
Until the 19th century, shoemaking was a traditional handicraft, but
by the century's end, the process had been almost completely
mechanized, with production occurring in large factories. Despite the
obvious economic gains of mass-production, the factory system produced
shoes without the individual differentiation that the traditional
shoemaker was able to provide.
The first steps towards mechanisation were taken during the Napoleonic
Wars by the engineer, Marc Brunel. He developed machinery for the
mass-production of boots for the soldiers of the British Army. In 1812
he devised a scheme for making nailed-boot-making machinery that
automatically fastened soles to uppers by means of metallic pins or
nails. With the support of the Duke of York, the shoes were
manufactured, and, due to their strength, cheapness, and durability,
were introduced for the use of the army. In the same year, the use of
screws and staples was patented by Richard Woodman. Brunel's system
was described by
Sir Richard Phillips
Sir Richard Phillips as a visitor to his factory in
Battersea as follows:
By the late 19th century, the shoemaking industry had migrated to the
factory and was increasingly mechanized. Pictured, the bottoming room
of the B. F. Spinney & Co. factory in Lynn, Massachusetts, 1872.
"In another building I was shown his manufactory of shoes, which, like
the other, is full of ingenuity, and, in regard to subdivision of
labour, brings this fabric on a level with the oft-admired manufactory
of pins. Every step in it is effected by the most elegant and precise
machinery; while, as each operation is performed by one hand, so each
shoe passes through twenty-five hands, who complete from the hide, as
supplied by the currier, a hundred pairs of strong and well-finished
shoes per day. All the details are performed by the ingenious
application of the mechanic powers; and all the parts are
characterised by precision, uniformity, and accuracy. As each man
performs but one step in the process, which implies no knowledge of
what is done by those who go before or follow him, so the persons
employed are not shoemakers, but wounded soldiers, who are able to
learn their respective duties in a few hours. The contract at which
these shoes are delivered to Government is 6s. 6d. per pair, being at
least 2s. less than what was paid previously for an unequal and
However, when the war ended in 1815, manual labour became much
cheaper, and the demand for military equipment subsided. As a
consequence, Brunel's system was no longer profitable and it soon
Similar exigencies at the time of the
Crimean War stimulated a renewed
interest in methods of mechanization and mass-production, which proved
longer lasting. A shoemaker in Leicester, Tomas Crick, patented
the design for a riveting machine in 1853. His machine used an iron
plate to push iron rivets into the sole. The process greatly increased
the speed and efficiency of production. He also introduced the use of
steam-powered rolling-machines for hardening leather and
cutting-machines, in the mid-1850s.
Advertisement in an 1896 issue of
McClure's for "The Regal".
The sewing machine was introduced in 1846, and provided an alternative
method for the mechanization of shoemaking. By the late 1850s, the
industry was beginning to shift towards the modern factory, mainly in
the US and areas of England. A shoe stitching machine was invented by
the American Lyman Blake in 1856 and perfected by 1864. Entering into
partnership with McKay, his device became known as the McKay stitching
machine and was quickly adopted by manufacturers throughout New
England. As bottlenecks opened up in the production line due to
these innovations, more and more of the manufacturing stages, such as
pegging and finishing, became automated. By the 1890s, the process of
mechanisation was largely complete.
Since the mid-20th Century, advances in rubber, plastics, synthetic
cloth, and industrial adhesives have allowed manufacturers to create
shoes that stray considerably from traditional crafting techniques.
Leather, which had been the primary material in earlier styles, has
remained standard in expensive dress shoes, but athletic shoes often
have little or no real leather. Soles, which were once laboriously
hand-stitched on, are now more often machine stitched or simply glued
on. Many of these newer materials, such as rubber and plastics, have
made shoes less biodegradable. It is estimated that most mass-produced
shoes require 1000 years to degrade in a landfill. In the late
2000s, some shoemakers picked up on the issue and began to produce
shoes made entirely from degradable materials, such as the Nike
In 2007, the global shoe industry had an overall market of $107.4
billion, in terms of revenue, and is expected to grow to $122.9
billion by the end of 2012.
Shoe manufacturers in the People's
Republic of China account for 63% of production, 40.5% of global
exports and 55% of industry revenue. However, many manufacturers in
Europe dominate the higher-priced, higher value-added end of the
Culture and folklore
Haines Shoe House
Haines Shoe House in Hallam, Pennsylvania
As an integral part of human culture and civilization, shoes have
found their way into our culture, folklore, and art. A popular 18th
century nursery rhyme is There was an Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe.
This story tells about an old woman living in a shoe with a lot of
children. In 1948, Mahlon Haines, a shoe salesman in Hallam,
Pennsylvania, built an actual house shaped like a work boot as a form
of advertisement. The
Haines Shoe House
Haines Shoe House was rented to newlyweds and
the elderly until his death in 1962. Since then, it has served as an
ice cream parlor, a bed and breakfast, and a museum. It still stands
today and is a popular roadside attraction.
Shoes also play an important role in the fairy tales
The Red Shoes. In the movie adaption of the children's book The
Wonderful Wizard of Oz, a pair of red ruby slippers play a key role in
the plot. The 1985 comedy
The Man with One Red Shoe
The Man with One Red Shoe features an
eccentric man wearing one normal business shoe and one red shoe that
becomes central to the plot.
Sports shoes in Hong Kong
Athletic sneaker collection has also existed as a part of urban
subculture in the
United States for several decades. Recent
decades have seen this trend spread to European nations such as the
Czech Republic. A
Sneakerhead is a person who owns multiple pairs
of shoes as a form of collection and fashion. A contributor to the
growth of sneaker collecting is the continued worldwide popularity of
Air Jordan line of sneakers designed by Nike for
In the Holy Bible's Old Testament, the shoe is used to symbolize
something that is worthless or of little value. In the New Testament,
the act of removing one's shoes symbolizes servitude. Ancient
Semitic-speaking peoples regarded the act of removing their shoes as a
mark of reverence when approaching a sacred person or place. In
the Book of Exodus,
Moses was instructed to remove his shoes before
approaching the burning bush:
Put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou
standest [is] holy ground (Exodus 3:5).
Salt Crystal Shoes, art installation at the
Dead Sea by Israeli artist
The removal of the shoe also symbolizes the act of giving up a legal
Hebrew custom, the widow removed the shoe of her late
husband's brother to symbolize that he had abandoned his duty. In Arab
custom, the removal of one's shoe also symbolized the dissolution of
In Arab culture, showing the sole of one's shoe is considered an
insult, and to throw a shoe and hit someone with it is considered an
even greater insult. Shoes are considered to be dirty as they
frequently touch the ground, and are associated with the lowest part
of the body — the foot. As such, shoes are forbidden in
mosques, and it is also considered unmannerly to cross the legs and
display the soles of one's shoes to someone when talking to them. This
insult was demonstrated in Iraq, first when Saddam Hussein's statue
was toppled in 2003, Iraqis gathered around it and struck the statue
with their shoes. Secondly, in 2008,
United States President
George W. Bush
George W. Bush had a shoe thrown at him by a journalist as a statement
against the war that was brought to
Iraq and the lives that it has
cost. More generally, shoe-throwing or shoeing, showing the sole
of one's shoe or using shoes to insult are forms of protest in many
parts of the world. Incidents where shoes were thrown at political
figures have taken place in Australia, India, Ireland, Taiwan, Hong
Kong, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and most
notably the Arab world.
Empty shoes may also symbolize death. In Greek culture, empty shoes
are the equivalent of the American funeral wreath. For example, empty
shoes placed outside of a Greek home would tell others that the
family's son has died in battle. At an observation memorializing
the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks, 3,000 pairs of empty
shoes were used to recognize those killed. The Shoes on the Danube
Bank is a memorial in Budapest, Hungary. Conceived by film director
Can Togay, he created it on the east bank of the
Danube River with
sculptor Gyula Pauer to honor the Jews who were killed by fascist
Arrow Cross militiamen in
Budapest during World War II. They were
ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the
water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.
The memorial represents their shoes left behind on the bank.
Shoe insert and Arch support
Diagram of a typical dress shoe. Note that the area labeled as the
"Lace guard" is sometimes considered part of the quarter and sometimes
part of the vamp.
The basic anatomy of a shoe is recognizable, regardless of the
specific style of footwear.
A shoemaker making turnshoes at the Roscheider Hof Open Air Museum
All shoes have a sole, which is the bottom of a shoe, in contact with
the ground. Soles can be made from a variety of materials, although
most modern shoes have soles made from natural rubber, polyurethane,
or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) compounds. Soles can be
simple — a single material in a single layer — or they
can be complex, with multiple structures or layers and materials. When
various layers are used, soles may consist of an insole, midsole, and
The insole is the interior bottom of a shoe, which sits directly
beneath the foot under the footbed (also known as sock liner). The
purpose of insole is to attach to the lasting margin of the upper,
which is wrapped around the last during the closing of the shoe during
the lasting operation. Insoles are usually made of cellulosic paper
board or synthetic non woven insole board. Many shoes have removable
and replaceable footbeds. Extra cushioning is often added for comfort
(to control the shape, moisture, or smell of the shoe) or health
reasons (to help deal with differences in the natural shape of the
foot or positioning of the foot during standing or walking).
The outsole is the layer in direct contact with the ground. Dress
shoes often have leather or resin rubber outsoles; casual or
work-oriented shoes have outsoles made of natural rubber or a
synthetic material like polyurethane. The outsole may comprise a
single piece, or may be an assembly of separate pieces, often of
different materials. On some shoes, the heel of the sole has a rubber
plate for durability and traction, while the front is leather for
style. Specialized shoes will often have modifications on this design:
athletic or so called cleated shoes like soccer, rugby, baseball and
golf shoes have spikes embedded in the outsole to improve
The midsole' is the layer in between the outsole and the insole,
typically there for shock absorption. Some types of shoes, like
running shoes, have additional material for shock absorption, usually
beneath the heel of the foot, where one puts the most pressure down.
Some shoes may not have a midsole at all.
The heel is the bottom rear part of a shoe. Its function is to support
the heel of the foot. They are often made of the same material as the
sole of the shoe. This part can be high for fashion or to make the
person look taller, or flat for a more practical and comfortable
use. On some shoes the inner forward point of the heel is
chiselled off, a feature known as a "gentleman's corner". This piece
of design is intended to alleviate the problem of the points catching
the bottom of trousers and was first observed in the 1930s. A heel
is the projection at the back of a shoe which rests below the heel
bone. The shoe heel is used to improve the balance of the shoe,
increase the height of the wearer, alter posture or other decorative
purposes. Sometimes raised, the high heel is common to a form of shoe
often worn by women, but sometimes by men too. See also stiletto heel.
The upper helps hold the shoe onto the foot. In the simplest cases,
such as sandals or flip-flops, this may be nothing more than a few
straps for holding the sole in place. Closed footwear, such as boots,
trainers and most men's shoes, will have a more complex upper. This
part is often decorated or is made in a certain style to look
attractive. The upper is connected to the sole by a strip of leather,
rubber, or plastic that is stitched between it and the sole, known as
Cutaway view of a typical shoe.
Most uppers have a mechanism, such as laces, straps with buckles,
zippers, elastic, velcro straps, buttons, or snaps, for tightening the
upper on the foot. Uppers with laces usually have a tongue that helps
seal the laced opening and protect the foot from abrasion by the
laces. Uppers with laces also have eyelets or hooks to make it easier
to tighten and loosen the laces and to prevent the lace from tearing
through the upper material. An aglet is the protective wrapping on the
end of the lace.
The vamp is the front part of the shoe, starting behind the toe,
extending around the eyelets and tongue and towards back part of the
The medial is the part of the shoe closest to a person's center of
symmetry, and the lateral is on the opposite side, away from their
center of symmetry. This can be in reference to either the outsole or
the vamp. Most shoes have shoelaces on the upper, connecting the
medial and lateral parts after one puts their shoes on and aiding in
keeping their shoes on their feet. In 1968,
Puma SE introduced the
first pair of sneakers with
Velcro straps in lieu of shoelaces, and
these became popular by the 1980s, especially among children and the
The toe box is the part that covers and protects the toes. People with
toe deformities, or individuals who experience toe swelling (such as
long distance runners) usually require a larger toe box.
There are a wide variety of different types of shoes. Most types of
shoes are designed for specific activities. For example, boots are
typically designed for work or heavy outdoor use. Athletic shoes are
designed for particular sports such as running, walking, or other
sports. Some shoes are designed to be worn at more formal occasions,
and others are designed for casual wear. There are also a wide variety
of shoes designed for different types of dancing. Orthopedic shoes are
special types of footwear designed for individuals with particular
foot problems or special needs. Other animals, such as dogs and
horses, may also wear special shoes to protect their feet as well.
Depending on the activity for which they are designed, some types of
footwear may fit into multiple categories. For example,
are considered boots, but may also be worn in more formal occasions
and used as dress shoes.
Hiking boots incorporate many of the
protective features of boots, but also provide the extra flexibility
and comfort of many athletic shoes.
Flip-flops are considered casual
footwear, but have also been worn in formal occasions, such as visits
to the White House.
A pair of athletic running shoes
Athletic shoes are specifically designed to be worn for participating
in various sports. Since friction between the foot and the ground is
an important force in most sports, modern athletic shoes are designed
to maximize this force, and materials, such as rubber, are used.
Although, for some activities such as dancing or bowling, sliding is
desirable, so shoes designed for these activities often have lower
coefficients of friction. The earliest athletic shoes date back to
the mid 19th century were track spikes — leather shoes with
metal cleats on the soles to provide increased friction during
running. They were developed by J.W. Foster & Sons, which later
become known as Reebok. By the end of the 19th century, Spalding also
manufactured these shoes as well.
Adidas started selling shoes with
track spikes in them for running and soccer in 1925. Spikes were
eventually added to shoes for baseball and
American football in the
20th century. Golfers also use shoes with small metal spikes on
their soles to prevent slipping during their swing.
The earliest rubber-soled athletic shoes date back to 1876 in the
United Kingdom, when the New Liverpool
Rubber Company made plimsolls,
or sandshoes, designed for the sport of croquet. Similar rubber-soled
shoes were made in 1892 in the
United States by Humphrey O'Sullivan,
based on Charles Goodyear's technology. The
United States Rubber
Company was founded the same year and produced rubber-soled and heeled
shoes under a variety of brand names, which were later consolidated in
1916 under the name, Keds. These shoes became known as, "sneakers",
because the rubber sole allowed the wearer to sneak up on another
person. In 1964, the founding of Nike by
Phil Knight and Bill Bowerman
of the University of
Oregon introduced many new improvements common in
modern running shoes, such as rubber waffle soles, breathable nylon
uppers, and cushioning in the mid-sole and heel. During the 1970s, the
expertise of podiatrists also became important in athletic shoe
design, to implement new design features based on how feet reacted to
specific actions, such as running, jumping, or side-to-side movement.
Athletic shoes for women were also designed for their specific
A pair of Converse All-Stars
Shoes specific to the sport of basketball were developed by Chuck
Taylor, and are popularly known as Chuck Taylor All-Stars. These
shoes, first sold in 1917, are double-layer canvas shoes with rubber
soles and toe caps, and a high heel (known as a "high top") for added
support. In 1969, Taylor was inducted into the Naismith Memorial
Basketball Hall of Fame in recognition of this development, and in the
1970s, other shoe manufacturers, such as Nike, Adidas, Reebok, and
others began imitating this style of athletic shoe. In April 1985,
Nike introduced its own brand of basketball shoe which would become
popular in its own right, the Air Jordan, named after the then-rookie
Chicago Bulls basketball player, Michael Jordan. The
Air Jordan line
of shoes sold $100 million in their first year.
As barefoot running became popular by the late 20th and early 21st
century, many modern shoe manufacturers have recently designed
footwear that mimic this experience, maintaining optimum flexibility
and natural walking while also providing some degree of protection.
Termed as Minimalist shoes, their purpose is to allow one's feet and
legs to feel more subtly the impacts and forces involved in running,
allowing finer adjustments in running style. Some of these shoes
include the Vibram FiveFingers, Nike Free, and Saucony's
Kinvara and Hattori. Mexican huaraches are also very simple
running shoes, similar to the shoes worn by the
Tarahumara people of
northern Mexico, who are known for their distance running
Wrestling shoes are also very light and flexible shoes
that are designed to mimic bare feet while providing additional
traction and protection.
Many athletic shoes are designed with specific features for specific
activities. One of these includes roller skates, which have metal or
plastic wheels on the bottom specific for the sport of roller skating.
Similarly, ice skates have a metal blade attached to the bottom for
locomotion across ice.
Skate shoes have also been designed to provide
a comfortable, flexible and durable shoe for the sport of
skateboarding. Climbing shoes are rubber-soled, tight-fitting
shoes designed to fit in the small cracks and crevices for rock
climbing. Cycling shoes are similarly designed with rubber soles and a
tight fit, but also are equipped with a metal or plastic cleat to
interface with clipless pedals, as well as a stiff sole to maximize
power transfer and support the foot.
A pair of steel-toed safety boots
Main article: Boot
A boot is a special type of shoe which covers the foot and the ankle
and extends up the leg, sometimes as far as the knee or even the hip.
Most boots have a heel that is clearly distinguishable from the rest
of the sole, even if the two are made of one piece. They are typically
made of leather or rubber, although they may be made from a variety of
different materials. Boots are worn both for their
functionality — protecting the foot and leg from water, snow,
mud or hazards or providing additional ankle support for strenuous
activities — as well as for reasons of style and fashion.
Cowboy boots are a specific style of riding boot which combines
function with fashion. They became popular among cowboys in the
United States during the 19th century. Traditional cowboy
boots have a Cuban heel, rounded to pointed toe, high shaft, and,
traditionally, no lacing. They are normally made from cowhide
leather but may be made from more exotic skins such as ostrich,
anaconda, or elephant skins.
Hiking boots are designed to provide extra ankle and arch support, as
well as extra padding for comfort during hiking. They are constructed
to provide comfort for miles of walking over rough terrains, and
protect the hiker's feet against water, mud, rocks, and other
wilderness obstacles. These boots support the ankle to avoid twisting
but do not restrict the ankle's movement too much. They are fairly
stiff to support the foot. A properly fitted boot and/or
friction-reducing patches applied to troublesome areas ensures
protection against blisters and other discomforts associated with long
hikes on rugged terrain.
During wet or snowy weather, snow boots are worn to keep the foot warm
and dry. They are typically made of rubber or other water-resistant
material, have multiple layers of insulation, and a high heel to keep
snow out. Boots may also be attached to snowshoes to increase the
distribution of weight over a larger surface area for walking in snow.
Ski boots are a specialized snow boot which are used in alpine or
cross-country skiing and designed to provide a way to attach the skier
to his/her skis using ski bindings. The ski/boot/binding combination
is used to effectively transmit control inputs from the skier's legs
to the snow.
Ice skates are another specialized boot with a metal
blade attached to the bottom which is used to propel the wearer across
a sheet of ice.
Inline skates are similar to ice skates but with a
set of three to four wheels in lieu of the blade, which are designed
to mimic ice skating on solid surfaces such as wood or concrete.
Boots are designed to withstand heavy wear to protect the wearer and
provide good traction. They are generally made from sturdy leather
uppers and non-leather outsoles. They may be used for uniforms of the
police or military, as well as for protection in industrial settings
such as mining and construction. Protective features may include
steel-tipped toes and soles or ankle guards.
Dress and casual
Dress shoes are characterized by smooth and supple leather uppers,
leather soles, and narrow sleek figure. Casual shoes are characterized
by sturdy leather uppers, non-leather outsoles, and wide profile.
Some designs of dress shoes can be worn by either gender. The majority
of dress shoes have an upper covering, commonly made of leather,
enclosing most of the lower foot, but not covering the ankles. This
upper part of the shoe is often made without apertures or openings,
but may also be made with openings or even itself consist of a series
of straps, e.g. an open toe featured in women's shoes. Shoes with
uppers made high to cover the ankles are also available; a shoe with
the upper rising above the ankle is usually considered a boot but
certain styles may be referred to as high-topped shoes or high-tops.
Usually, a high-topped shoe is secured by laces or zippers, although
some styles have elastic inserts to ease slipping the shoe on.
This male dress shoe, known as a derby shoe, is distinguished by its
Men's shoes can be categorized by how they are closed:
Oxfords (also referred as "Balmorals"): the vamp has a V-shaped slit
to which the laces are attached; also known as "closed lacing". The
word "Oxford" is sometimes used by American clothing companies to
market shoes that are not Balmorals, such as Blüchers.
Derby shoe: the laces are tied to two pieces of leather independently
attached to the vamp; also known as "open lacing" and is a step down
in dressiness. If the laces are not independently attached to the
vamp, the shoe is known as a blucher shoe. This name is, in American
English, often used about derbys.
Monk-straps: a buckle and strap instead of lacing
Slip-ons: There are no lacings or fastenings. The popular loafers are
part of this category, as well as less popular styles, such as
Men's shoes can also be decorated in various ways:
Plain-toes: have a sleek appearance and no extra decorations on the
Cap-toes: has an extra layer of leather that "caps" the toe.
Brogues (American: wing-tips): The toe of the shoe is covered with a
perforated panel, the wing-tip, which extends down either side of the
Brogues can be found in both balmoral and blucher styles, but
are considered slightly less formal.
Formal high-end men's shoes are manufactured by several companies
around the world, most notably in England, France, Italy, and America.
Notable British brands include:
Church's English Shoes (est. 1873),
John Lobb Bootmaker
John Lobb Bootmaker (est. 1849),
Edward Green Shoes (est. 1890), and
Crockett & Jones (est. 1879). Both John Lobb and Edward Green
offer bespoke products. In between the world wars, men's footwear
received significant innovation and design, led by cobblers and
cordwainers in London's West End. The most notable[according to
whom?] French product is made by J.M. Weston.
Armani of Italy was a
major influence on men's shoe design in the 1960s–1980s until they
returned to the larger proportions of its forebears, the
welt-constructed Anglo-American dress shoe originally created in
Edwardian England. Another well-known Italian company is Salvatore
Ferragamo Italia S.p.A.. The remaining elite[clarification needed]
American companies are
Allen Edmonds and Alden
Shoe Company. Alden,
located in New England, specializes in genuine shell cordovan leather
from the only remaining horse tannery in America (Chicago) and is
completely manufactured in America, whereas Allen Edmonds, of
Wisconsin, is a larger company that outsources some of its
High heel sandals
There is a large variety of shoes available for women, in addition to
most of the men's styles being more accepted as unisex. Some broad
High-heeled footwear is footwear that raises the heels, typically
2 inches (5 cm) or more above the toes, commonly worn by
women for formal occasions or social outings. Variants include kitten
heels (typically 1½-2 inches high) and stiletto heels (with a
very narrow heel post) and wedge heels (with a wedge-shaped sole
rather than a heel post).
Mules are shoes or slippers with no fitting around the heel (i.e. they
Slingbacks are shoes which are secured by a strap behind the heel,
rather than over the top of the foot.
Ballet flats, known in the UK as ballerinas, ballet pumps or skimmers,
are shoes with a very low heel and a relatively short vamp, exposing
much of the instep. They are popular for warm-weather wear, and may be
seen as more comfortable than shoes with a higher heel.
Court shoes, known in the
United States as pumps, are typically
high-heeled, slip-on dress shoes.
Women's high heel pump
Platform shoe: shoe with very thick soles and heels
Sandals: open shoes consisting of a sole and various straps, leaving
much of the foot exposed to air. They are thus popular for
warm-weather wear, because they let the foot be cooler than a
closed-toed shoe would.
Saddle shoe: leather shoe with a contrasting saddle-shaped band over
the instep, typically white uppers with black "saddle".
Slip-on shoe: a dress or casual shoe without shoelaces or fasteners;
often with tassels, buckles, or coin-holders (penny loafers).
Boat shoes, also known as "deck shoes": similar to a loafer, but more
casual. Laces are usually simple leather with no frills. Typically
made of leather and featuring a soft white sole to avoid marring or
scratching a boat deck. The first boat shoe was invented in 1935 by
Paul A. Sperry.
Slippers: For indoor use, commonly worn with pajamas.
A wide variety of footwear is used by dancers. The choice of dance
shoe type depends on the style of dance that is to be performed and,
in many cases, the characteristics of the surface that will be danced
Pointe shoes are designed for ballet dancing. These have a toe box
that is stiffened with glue and a hardened sole so the dancer can
stand on the tips of their toes. They are secured by elastic straps
and ribbons that are tied to the dancer's ankles.
Ballet shoes are soft, pliable shoes made of canvas or leather, with
either continuous or two-part sole (also called split-sole), used for
ballet dancing. The sole is typically made of leather, with thicker
material under the ball and heel of the foot, and thinner and thus
more flexible material under the arch so that the foot can be easily
pointed. They are typically secured by elastics across the top of the
Ghillies are soft shoes that are used in Irish dance, Scottish country
dance, and highland dance.
Jazz shoes typically have a two-part rubberized sole (also called
split-sole) to provide both flexibility and traction, and a short
heel. They are secured to the foot by laces or elastic inserts.
Flamenco shoes are used for tango or flamenco dancing.
Ballroom shoes fall into two categories: Ballroom and Latin American.
Both are characterised by suede soles. Men's ballroom shoes are
typically lace-ups with one-inch heels and patent leather uppers.
Ladies' ballroom shoes are typically court shoes with two-inch heels,
made of fabric that can be colored to match the dancer's dress. In
contrast to the low Ballroom heel, which evenly distributes weight
across the foot, Latin American shoes have higher heels designed to
shift weight onto the toes. Latin shoes are also more flexible than
ballroom shoes. Men's Latin shoes typically have 1.5- to 2-inch high,
shaped heels, while Ladies' Latin shoes have 2,5-inch to 3-inch heels.
Ladies shoes are typically open-toed and strapped.
Dance sneakers are lightweight sneakers with reinforced rubber toes
that allows dancers to briefly stand on their toes. These are known by
various trademarked names, such as dansneakers.
Foot thongs are slip-on, partial foot covers that cover the ball of
the dancer's foot so as to reduce friction while executing turns, thus
making it easier to perform turns and also protecting the foot from
skin abrasions. From a distance, flesh colored foot thongs give a
dancer the appearance of having bare feet. They are known by various
names depending on the manufacturer, including dance paws, foot
undies, and foot paws.
Tap shoes have metal plates mounted to the bottoms of the toe and
heel. The metal plates, which are known as taps, make a loud sound
when struck against a hard performance surface. Tap shoes, which are
used in tap dancing, may be made from any style of shoe to which taps
can be attached.
Character shoes are leather shoes with one- to three-inch heels,
usually with one or more straps across the instep to secure it to the
foot. They may be soft-soled (suede) or hard-soled. They may be
converted to tap shoes by attaching taps.
Jazz shoes. This style is frequently worn by acro dancers
A foot thong, viewed from the bottom
Ladies' ballroom shoes
Men's ballroom shoes
Orthopedic shoes are specially-designed footwear to relieve discomfort
associated with many foot and ankle disorders, such as blisters,
bunions, calluses and corns, hammer toes, plantar fasciitis, or heel
spurs. They may also be worn by individuals with diabetes or people
with unequal leg length. These shoes typically have a low heel, tend
to be wide with a particularly wide toe box, and have a firm heel to
provide extra support. Some may also have a removable insole, or
orthotic, to provide extra arch support.
See also: Diabetic shoe
World's largest pair of shoes, Riverbank Center, Philippines – 5.29
metres (17.4 ft) long and 2.37 metres (7 ft 9) in wide, equivalent to
a French shoe size of 75.
Shoe size is an alphanumerical indication of the fitting size of a
shoe for a person. Often it just consists of a number indicating the
length because many shoemakers only provide a standard width for
economic reasons. There are several different shoe-size systems that
are used worldwide. These systems differ in what they measure, what
unit of measurement they use, and where the size 0 (or 1) is
positioned. Only a few systems also take the width of the feet into
account. Some regions use different shoe-size systems for different
types of shoes (e.g., men's, women's, children's, sport, or safety
Units for shoe sizes vary widely around the world. European sizes are
measured in Paris Points, which are worth two-thirds of a centimeter.
The UK and American units are approximately one-quarter of an inch,
starting at 8¼ inches. Men's and women's shoe sizes often have
different scales. Shoes size is often measured using a Brannock
Device, which can determine both the width and length size values of
Foam tap — a small foam pad placed under the ball of the foot
to push the foot up and back if the shoe is too loose.
Heel grip — used to prevent the shoe from slipping on the heel
if the fit is not perfect
(Orthopedic) shoe insert — insert of various materials for
cushioning, improved fit, or reduced abrasion. These include padding
and inner linings. Inserts may also be used to correct foot problems.
Overshoes or galoshes — a rubber covering placed over shoes for
rain and snow protection.
Shoe bag — a bag that protects shoes against damage when they
are not being worn.
Shoe brush and polishing cloth: used to apply polish to shoes.
Shoe polish — a waxy material spread on shoes to improve
appearance and glossiness, and provide protection.
Shoe stretcher — a tool for making a shoe longer or wider or
for reducing discomfort in areas of a shoe.
Shoe tree — placed inside the shoe when user is not wearing it,
to help maintain the shoe's shape.
Shoehorn — can be used to insert a foot into a shoe by keeping
the shoe open and providing a smooth surface for the foot to slide
Shoelaces — a system used to secure shoes.
Snow shoe — a wooden or leather piece that increases the area
of ground covered by the shoe.
List of shoe companies
List of shoe styles
Locomotor effects of shoes
Runner's toe, injury from malfitting shoes
^ Connolly, Tom. "The World's Oldest Shoes". University of Oregon.
Retrieved July 22, 2012.
^ a b Ravilious, Kate (June 9, 2010). "World's Oldest
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^ "Old Shoe- Even Older." The Norway Post, 2 May 2007.
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^ Kendzior, Russell J. Falls Aren't Funny: America's
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^ a b c Frazine, Richard Keith (1993). The
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^ Krentz, Peter (2010). The Battle of Marathon. New Haven and London:
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^ Turpin, Zachary. "Winning the Boston Marathon, With or Without
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Greece and Rome at War' by Peter Connolly
^ "Genesis 14:23, Deuteronomy 25:9, Ruth 4:7-8, Luke 15:22".
Missing or empty url= (help)
^ 'Shoes and Pattens: Finds from Medieval Excavations in London'
(Medieval Finds from Excavations in London) by Francis Grew &
Margrethe de Neergaard
^ Blair, John (1991). English Medieval Industries: Craftsmen,
Techniques, Products. London: Continuum International Publishing
Group. p. 309. ISBN 0-907628-87-7.
^ a b "Dangerous Elegance: A History of High-Heeled Shoes". Random
History. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
^ The Encyclopaedia of the Renaissance. Market House Books. 1988.
^ Yue, Charlotte (1997). Shoes: Their History in Words and Pictures.
New York City: Houghton Mifflin Company. p. 46.
^ a b c "History of Shoemaking in Britain –
Napoleonic Wars and the
^ Richard Phillips, Morning’s Walk from
London to Kew, 1817.
^ R. A. McKinley (1958). "FOOTWEAR MANUFACTURE". British History
^ Charles W. Carey (2009). American Inventors, Entrepreneurs, and
Business Visionaries. Infobase Publishing. p. 27.
^ Clark, Brian (October 24, 2009). "Biodegradable... Shoes??". The
Daily Green. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
^ "What is Nike Considered?".
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^ Lake, Matt; Moran, Mark; Sceurman, Mark (2005). Weird Pennsylvania:
Your Travel Guide to Pennsylvania's Local Legends and Best Kept
Secrets. New York City: Sterling Publishing Co. p. 131.
^ Skidmore, Sarah (15 January 2007). "Sneakerheads Love to Show Off
Their Shoes". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2 July 2011.
^ "Czech 'Sneakerheads' Flaunt Their Best Trainers". Czech Position.
Retrieved 2 July 2011.
^ a b Farbridge, Maurice H. (2003). Studies in Biblical & Semitic
Symbolism 1923. Kessinger Publishing.
ISBN 978-0-7661-3856-8. , pages=273–274
^ Gammell, Caroline (December 15, 2008). "Arab Culture: The
the Shoe". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
^ Asser, Martin (December 15, 2008). "Bush Shoe-ing Worst Arab
Insult". BBC News. Retrieved July 24, 2012.
^ Arab culture: the insult of the shoe, The Telegraph, 15 December
^ Bush shoe-ing worst Arab insult, BBC, 16 December 2008.
^ Reeve, Andru J. (2004). Turn Me On, Dead Man: The Beatles and the
"Paul Is Dead" Hoax. Bloomington, Indiana: AuthorHouse. p. 79.
^ Cohen, Sam (September 11, 2011). "Empty Shoes an Emotional Reminder
of Those Who Died on 9/11". Fox 40. Retrieved July 23, 2012.
^ Karak, Niranjan (2009). Fundamentals Of Polymers: Raw Materials To
Finish Products. New Delhi: PHI Learning Private Limited.
pp. 263–264. ISBN 978-81-203-3877-7.
^ a b c d e f Vonhof, John (2011). Fixing Your Feet: Prevention and
Treatments for Athletes. Birmingham, Alabama: Wilderness Press.
pp. 58–59. ISBN 978-0-89997-638-9.
^ Oliver Sweeney Ltd. "Home Page – Oliver Sweeney".
^ Suddath, Claire (June 15, 2010). "A Brief History of: Velcro". Time.
Retrieved July 30, 2012.
^ Frank, Robert H. (2007). The Economic Naturalist: In Search of
Explanations for Everyday Enigmas. New York City: Basic Books.
p. 174. ISBN 978-0-465-00217-7.
^ Edelstein, Joan E.; Bruckner, Jan (2002). Orthotics: A Comprehensive
Clinical Approach. SLACK Incorporated. p. 21.
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^ Lister, Richard (February 19, 2010). "Flip-flop Diplomacy With the
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^ McGinnis, Peter M. (2005). Biomechanics of Sport and Exercise
(Second Edition). Champaign, Illinois: www.humankinetics.com.
p. 26. ISBN 0-7360-5101-5.
^ Farrally, Martin R.; Cochran, Alastair J. Science and
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^ Peterson, Hal (2007). Chucks!: The Phenomenon of Converse Chuck
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^ Papson, Stephen; Goldman, Robert (1998). Nike Culture: The Sign of
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^ Cortese, Amy (August 29, 2009). "Wiggling Their Toes at the Shoe
Giants". New York Times. Retrieved July 1, 2010.
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^ Jhung, Lisa (May 2011). "
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^ McDougall, Christopher (2011). Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe,
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^ Welinder, Per; Whitley, Peter (2012). Mastering Skateboarding.
Champaign, Illinois: Human Kinetics. p. 8.
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Bartlett Publishers. p. 45. ISBN 978-0-7637-4433-5.
^ DeWeese, G. Daniel (June 29, 2010). "The Functional Side of Cowboy
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^ Chand, Elise Gaston (2009). A Parent's Guide to Riding Lessons:
Everything You Need to Know to Survive and Thrive With a Horse-Loving
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^ Bellis, Mary. "History of
Ice Skates". About.com. Retrieved August
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Materials. Forest Drive, Pinelands,
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^ "Ask Andy About Clothes". Ask Andy About Clothes.
Bergstein, Rachelle (2012). Women From the
Ankle Down – The Story of
Shoes and How They Define Us (Hardback). New York: Harper Collins.
pp. 284 pages. ISBN 978-0-06-196961-4.
Footwear in Norway, Sweden and Finland: prehistory to 1950,
Patrick Cox: Wit, Irony, and Footwear, Tamasin Doe (1998)
A Century of Shoes: Icons of Style in the 20th Century, Angela
Pattison ISBN 0-7858-0835-3
Museum Fifty Shoes that Changed the World. London: Conran
Octopus, 2009 ISBN 978-1-84091-539-6
Find more aboutShoesat's sister projects
Definitions from Wiktionary
Media from Wikimedia Commons
News from Wikinews
Quotations from Wikiquote
Texts from Wikisource
Textbooks from Wikibooks
Learning resources from Wikiversity
All About Shoes—the Bata
Shoe Museum's online exhibits on the
history and variety of footwear
Shoe Size Conversion Charts, from i18nguy's website,
offers more information.
The Political History of Shoes
Spectator shoes (Co-respondent shoes)
Cross country running shoes
Kung fu shoe
Chelsea boots (Beatle boots)
Australian work boots
List of shoe styles
Running shoe brands
Hoka One One
Historical clothing • Traditional and national clothing
High water pants
Little black dress
Red Sea rig
Square leg suit
History of clothing
New Stone Age
New World crops
Ard / plough
Mortar and pestle
Bow and arrow
Game drive system
Langdale axe industry
British megalith architecture
Nordic megalith architecture
Neolithic long house
Abri de la Madeleine
Alp pile dwellings
Wattle and daub
Megalithic architectural elements
Arts and culture
Art of the Upper Paleolithic
Art of the Middle Paleolithic
Stone Age art
Bradshaw rock paintings
Carved Stone Balls
Cup and ring mark
British Isles and Brittany
Mound Builders culture
Stone box grave
Unchambered long cairn
Origin of language
Divje Babe flute
Origin of religion
Spiritual drug use
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