Did you know that humans have been wearing shoes for more than 40,000 years? This was the finding of a 2008 study by Erik Trinkaus (an anthropologist at Washington University in St. Louis). That’s a very long time (in anyone’s books).
You probably wear shoes almost every day, but there’s probably a lot that you don’t know about this handy (no pun intended) footwear accessory. Today my aim is to change that.
Here are 10 Interesting Facts That You Might Not Know About Shoes
1. Heels were first worn by men. The first heels were actually made in ancient Persia for horseback riders who want to stay secure and stable in their stirrups during battles. Later this style of footwear became popular among the European upper class and a symbol of social status (thanks to spreading Persian influence). It’s a fact that heels are not common when it comes to shoes for men these days, but at one point they were worn by both sexes. Mens shoes have definitely evolved over the years.
2. When the Ancient Greeks staged plays, costumes were crucial for audiences to identify characters. Tragic actors would don shoes called “buskins,” or raised platform shoes, to symbolize their superiority over comic actors, who would wear plain socks.
3. Sneakers went international in 1923 when a German man made a sneaker and named it after himself. The sneaker is Adidas, named after Adi Dassler. This brand has been the world’s largest seller of athletic shoes. Adidas, became famous after Jessie Owens won 4 Gold Medals, while wearing Adidas, during the 1936 Olympics (in Berlin).
4. Dr. Martens were originally considered practical working men’s boots for their air-cushioned soles. The original boot was created by the German inventors, Dr. Maertens and his friend, Dr. Funck. They invented the shoe’s air-cushioned sole. A British boot manufacturer released the shoe in 1960. It was marketed to working men as reliable footwear, and became popular in the 1970s among Britain’s counterculture and punk-music movement.
5. Salvatore Ferragamo invented the wedge shoe when Italy was suffering from closed trade with other countries in the 1940s. The inventor could not get steel for his shoes’ heels, so he experimented with pieces of Sardinian cork, pushing and gluing and fixing and trimming until the entire space between the sole and the heel was blocked solid. After a few weeks, it became one of his most popular styles.
6. Right and left shoes were only made from 1818 (apparently in Philadeplia). Before this, both shoes were identical and most likely less comfortable.
7. Joshua Mueller of Lakewood, Washington, USA, holds the official Guinness World Record for having the largest collection of Converse shoes. At last count, verified on July 30, 2019, his collection consisted of 2,630 shoes. He started collecting Converse shoes in 1992.
8. Shoelaces have been in use for centuries, long before they became officially invented when they were patented by Harvey Kennedy in 1790. There are examples of laces on medieval footwear dating as far back as the 12th century. Kennedy is also the inventor of the aglet (the little plastic thingy at the end of a shoelace).
9. The oldest known leather shoe was discovered in 2008 in Armenia. It’s been called the Areni-1 shoe and despite being around 5,500-years-old, it was actually found in surprisingly good condition.
10. The most expensive pair of shoes was sold at an auction for $660,000 in the year 2000. They were the Ruby Slippers, worn by Judy Garland in the 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz.
Well, there you have it, 10 facts you might not have known about shoes. If I left out something important, feel free to leave a comment below and let me know what I left out.
Watch this space for updates in the Facts category on Running Wolf’s Rant.