Shoemaking History

The History of Shoemaking

1800's shoemaking
lasting on a bench
Old time shoe making

Made primarily of different types of tree bark, leaves and rawhide, the first shoes fell into two categories: sandals and moccasins. Both began with some sort of simple sole that was strapped to the foot. While sandals were found mainly in warmer regions and shielded thesole of the foot, moccasins offered greater protection to those living in colder areas of the world.

 

In Medieval times, the toes of men’s shoes grew longer and more pointed. A sign of status, the longer the toe, the better. As we reached the middle ages, men’s and women’s shoes morphed into round and square toe shapes and the soles had become wider.

As we reached the 1500s, shoemakers began to incorporate higher heels on women’s shoes and more functional heels on men’s shoes. From dainty lady’s styles to ‘Oxford’ boots first worn by students at Oxford University in the 17th century, heels began to draw as much attention as toes. The invention of the sewing machine in 1846 opened more doors to shoemakers. Hand stitching was eventually replaced with automated sewing via machine for virtually all cobblers. However, the age of automation was also marked the decline of the cobbler, turning shoemakers into industrialised shoe manufacturers.

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