- The original purpose of footwear was for foot protection. And although protection from the elements is still the basis of its existence, many will declare that there is nothing "sexier" than a pair of shoes by any of the current designers, such as Manolo Blanik. From the mid-seventeenth century, shoemakers worked for individual fashion houses; in Paris, one of the most famous was Pinet, who became established with Worth and continued to sell shoes until the beginning of World War II. In the United States, the first mass production of shoes began in 1750. Once the shoemakers adapted the sewing machine to work with leather, they could make and sell shoes at affordable prices by the late 1700s. Also at this time, shoes began to be sold by shoe stores rather than shoemakers and, by the 1880s, shoes were produced with right and left feet. The twentieth century saw shoemaking as a global enterprise—mass-market shoes were produced in Asia and high-end footwear sales centered in Italy.Footwear consists of numerous categories such as sandals, moccasins, boots, and clogs. The shoe is defined by having a sole that is attached to an upper. In the twelfth century, shoes featured elongated pointed toes. By the fourteenth century, shoes were highly sought-after fashion accessories and the quality of the leather or textiles was a clear distinction of status and wealth. The fifteenth century saw wide toes replace the pointed predecessor and by the sixteenth century platform soles raised the wearer as much as 39 inches from the ground level. During the seventeenth century, both men and women wore raised heels, and buckles became a key symbol of determining the wealth of the wearer. Women of the eighteenth century wore three types of heels; sharp and narrow, mid-height and curved, or low and broad. Shoelaces replaced buckles and, by the end of the century, styles modeled after life in the English countryside became popular.The nineteenth century saw the birth of the women's ankle boot and the middle class had a variety of affordable styles to choose from. In the twentieth century, shoes became a "fashion collectible" and it seemed as though both women and men could not own enough pairs of shoes. Colors from red to metallic gold, as well as the pairing of white with black or brown, became the rage. The birth of the shoe designer took place in the 1930s. Claire McCardell in the war-rationing 1940s requested a hard version of the ballet slipper, due to the fact that it was not part of the war time restrictions. Shoes became light and flat and complemented Dior's New Look. The postwar era saw the Italians and the French competing for the spotlight as the shoe designers and recognized names such as Charles Jourdan and Roger Vivier made pointed toes and stiletto heels a fashion must-have. The rise of youth fashion in the 1950s saw loafers as the choice of college students, along with basketball shoes and the "desert boot" by Clark. The 1960s was home to the go-go boot first introduced by Courrèges, as well as Vivier's "Pilgrim" pump. The "hot pants" style of the 1960s included thigh-high boots for women, and androgyny in fashion presented platforms for both men and women. Street fashion in the 1970s propelled the sneaker/trainer as we now know it and the Doc Marten became the shoe of choice for the followers of the punk look. The most significant influence on footwear in the 1980s was the fitness rage—and the sneaker took center stage. This, together with brand awareness, made names such as Nike, Reebok, and Adidas sought after by consumers of all ages. The accessory market for designers exploded in the 1990s and fashion shoes by Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and other designers of note become a fashion necessity across various income levels.
Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. Francesca Sterlacci and Joanne Arbuckle.