The History of Platform Shoes
It seems that platform shoes have made their way back into fashion once again. This type of shoe has soles at least four inches thick and has been around for quite a while. In fact, they date back to ancient times, with examples being evident in the histories of 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. Some sources even claim that the original icon for these shoes was Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, procreation, pleasure, and beauty. Occasionally, depictions of this goddess show her wearing a very tall style of footwear.
It is known for sure, however, that lead actors in the Ancient Greek theaters wore platform sandals called Cothurnus over 2000 years ago. This was so the actors could be seen from the higher seats. These sandals had cork platforms and were tied using leather straps. Major characters typically wore higher shoes than those with smaller parts. This way, the audience could see them better and know where to focus their attention. Ancient Romans adopted the platform shoe as well, calling their platform sandals Kothorni.
Reasons for Wearing Platform Shoes
Some historians believe platform shoes were invented for the nobility so that they seemed taller than the common people around them. By towering over the less fortunate, the nobility would be able to keep the commoners downtrodden in yet another way.
Others believe ancient civilizations like the Pattern wore these shoes to keep their feet clean from the muck and mire in the streets. One such shoe was worn by nobility and the upper class of Venice from 1400-1700. This was dubbed the “chopine”. This shoe increased one’s height by nearly 20 inches. However, the city of Venice passed laws against these ultra-high platforms and heel heights came back down to a normal height.
In the 1300s, platform shoes had quite a practical use. This was an era when public bathhouses were popular in the Middle East. Hence, fashionable but functional footwear was necessary in order to visit these establishments while saving one’s clothing from the mud and water. Hence, platform shoes known as ‘kabkabs’ came into being.
The name of these shoes was a reflection of the sound these shoes made when someone walked in them. This was a sort of clapping, as the shoes were little more than miniature stilts. They consisted of a flat sole that was fixed to a wooden bridge. There were also embellishments of shells and ivory on the bridge. While the shoes were also meant as a fashion symbol, they were mostly utilized for the purpose of elevating the wearer above the heated, wet bathhouse floors.
In the 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. After the 1700s, it looked like platform shoes were no longer in vogue. This was true for a long time, as it was not until the 1930s that the platform shoe reappeared. This occurred when Salvatore Ferragamo designed a rainbow-colored cork sandal. This shoe, however, was not as popular as similar designs were in the past.
This era also showcased platform shoes in European artwork. If you look up some paintings from this time period, you’d probably notice a strange yet distinctive shoe shape with several over=the-top embellishments. The highly decorated versions were especially popular in Spain. For the Italian nobility, there was even a time when platform shoes were fashionable, but hidden under skirts. They were hence more for giving the impression of height rather than for show.
Platform shoes gained popularity again in the hippie decade of the 1970s. At the beginning of the disco era, men and women alike wore platform shoes and sandals. Nearly everyone on the dance floor wore them. Some of these shoes 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 even a small aquarium inside the heels.
Major musical acts of the 1970s, like Elton John and KISS, wore platform shoes and boots. In fact, the more outlandish they looked the more fashionable they were supposed to be. Once disco died off, though, it seemed like platform shoes went down the drain with it.
The platform shoe began making a comeback in the 1990s, with international music artists like the Spice Girls and supermodels wearing them. Back in those days, it seemed the platform sneaker was the “must have” shoe for a while. This was in spite of the fact that they were mostly 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. This particular shoe design elongates the leg, which is why women adore them. This fact might be part of the reason why this shoe style keeps coming back into fashion.
While platform shoes may not be everyone’s cup of tea, there’s no denying that they do come back into fashion at regular intervals. Their height might prove risky for some, but the wide-flat soles and heels do provide some safety. They’re probably safer than stilettos or pencil heels, which are also popular in modern times.
If you must have a pair of platform shoes, make sure to get some that are easy for you to walk in. Being uncomfortable or putting yourself in danger for the sake of fashion is not quite logical. Before making a decision, try on some pairs and see how they feel.