We get to know the different styles of shoe fashion from a different period or another country. Wooden shoes also known simply as ‘clogs’ were originally handmade from wood coming from the trees of alder, sycamore, poplar or willow plant. This classic footwear was once made with wooden sole and leather strap till it came to be made of wood alone and was worn to protect the feet. It was originally used as ‘working shoes’ of farmers and miners and have come a long way to becoming a fashionable item on the fashion runway. Variations of the clogs were mainly overshoes with wooden uppers and wooden soles with wooden soled clogs as the most typical among the three.
History of clogs
Though no one knows for sure the true origin of wooden shoes, they were believed to have started during the Middle Ages in Old Europe with the oldest found at Amsterdam dating as far back as 1230. Back at those times, clogs or ‘klompen’ as they were called by the Dutch, were originally made of alder and was a common necessity among farmers and miners and those doing heavy labor to protect their whole feet. This footwear was greatly favored by the working class as it fit the Dutch climate aside from the protection and comfort it offered.
It was also a customary practice then for men to present a pair of carved wooden shoes to their fiancées. Soon these wooden shoes became part of the traditional Dutch costume for ‘Klompendanskunst’ or ‘Clog Dancing’. In some European countries, they also have their own traditional version of clogs like ‘sabot’ in France, ‘klumpe’ in Lithuania, ‘zoccolo (calzatura)’ in Italy, ‘tamanco’ in Portugal among others. These varieties of customary wooden shoes were also used in Asian countries like the ‘geta’ from Japan, ‘paduka’ from India, ‘namaksin’ from Korea and ‘bakya’ in the Philippines to name a few.
From a soldier’s gear to a decorative footwear
By the advent of World War I, clogs became part of the combat gear among soldiers as they passed through the vast European terrains. However, the Industrial Age and mass production caused by the invention of machines soon favored leather and synthetic made shoes over clogs. They were soon soon no longer widely worn and by World War II there were primarily used for traditional decorative use.
The evolution of clogs as a fashion accessory
Fast forward, clogs resurfaced by the 1960’s as a stylish accessory worn without socks by men. It was the Swedish styled clogs that became popular to both sexes which were made in different materials and colors retaining only the wooden sole. By the 80’s and 90’s it became a mainstay in fashion as new materials and accessories were incorporated to make them more comfortable and practical than the ‘old wooden shoe’. Clogs began to incorporate materials such as leather, rubber, fur, wool, or rhinestones with different designs ranging from platform styled clogs that reaches 6 to 8 cm high to open-toe or closed back versions with straps or strings. Every now and then, clogs were also seen on fashion runways as accessories for designers such as Chanel and Louis Vuitton propelling it into the world of fashion.