It seems that platform shoes have made their way back into fashion. This type of shoe, which has soles at least four inches thick, has been around for quite a while. In fact, they date back to ancient times with examples of this type of shoe being evident in Greece, Rome, Japan, China and even Egypt. Check out the history of platform shoes to learn more.
No one really knows when platform shoes first appeared. There are examples of platform shoes in ancient Egyptian art. Men and women in ancient China, Turkey and Japan wore platform shoes. It is known for sure, however, that lead actors over 2000 years ago in the Ancient Greek theater wore platform sandals called Cothurnus so the actors could be seen from the higher seats. Ancient Romans adopted the shoe and called their platform sandals Kothorni.
Some historians believe platform shoes were invented for nobility so they were taller than the common people around them were, to tower over the less fortunate. Others believe they wore these shoes, particularly the Patten, to keep their feet clean from the muck and mire in the streets. One such shoe wore by nobility and the upper class of Venice from 1400-1700 was the “chopine.” This shoe increased in height, to nearly 20 inches, but the city of Venice passed laws against these ultra high platforms and heel heights came back down to a normal height.
In China of the 1700s, male actors began wearing platform boots in the Peking Opera. Like Ancient Greek theater, the taller the shoe the actor wore, the more important he was to the play. It seemed, after the 1700s, that the platform shoes were no longer in vogue. It was not until the 1930s that the platform shoe reappeared. Salvatore Ferragamo designed a rainbow-colored cork sandal. This shoe, however, was not as popular as in the past.
By the 1970s, the beginning of the disco era, men and women alike wore platform shoes and sandals. Nearly everyone on the dance floor wore them. Some were plain but many were extreme, not only in height but also in fashion. It was common to see platform shoes with flashing lights or a small aquarium in them. Major musical acts of the 1970s, like Elton John and KISS, wore platform shoes and boots. In fact, the more outlandish they looked the better. However, after disco died, it seemed so did platform shoes.
The platform shoe began making a comeback in the 1990s with international music artists like the Spice Girls and supermodels wearing them. Rather than a goldfish, however, it seemed the platform sneaker was the “must have” shoe fashion for a while even though they were impractical.
Today, many women have at least one pair of platform shoes. High-heeled platforms are all the rage. The sole of the shoe is often two to three inches with the heel reaching eight or nine. The shoes elongate the leg, which is why women adore them, which might be part of the reason this shoe style keeps coming back into fashion.