Shoes date back to the 8,000s BC – a very long history, indeed. Over the millennia all manner of styles and materials have been used for shoes. This list looks at ten bizarre styles of shoe from early to modern history.
10| Lotus Shoes | China, From The 10th Century To 2009
The Han Chinese tradition of binding women’s feet to make them appear as small as a lotus bud lasted well over a thousand years. As part of her dowry, a woman would make several pairs of shoes as proof of her needlework ability, as well as her small feet. After her wedding, a bride gave each of her main female in-laws a pair of shoes at a special ceremony known as “dividing the shoes.” The last shoe factory to stop mass production of lotus shoes was the Zhiqiang Shoe Factory.
9| Kabkabs | Levant, 14th-17th Century
Silver studded Wooden stilts known as “kabkabs” or “nalins” were once a practical way for women in the Middle East to protect themselves from dirt and discomfort on wet, muddy streets and in hot, wet bathhouses. The name “kabkab” is derived from the sound they make when walking on marble floors. Socially, kabkabs were only worn by women. In bathhouses, however, simple ones, sometimes with a little carving only and a leather-strap upper, were also worn by men.
8| Chopines | Italy, 1580 – 1620
Like the Japanese Okobo, Chopines’ primary purpose was to make the wearer stand out. They not only heightened the wearer by up to 18 cm but were extremely extravagant and expensive. These treasured shoes were made of wood, and either covered with fine silk or velvet. They were embellished with silver lace, tacks, and were finished with a silk tassel.
7. Okobo | Japan, 18th Century – Today
The Okobo sandals have been worn by the Japanese maiko (apprentice geisha) for centuries. The reason for wearing these very high platform shoes was not solely for fashion, but also for very practical reasons. If you are wearing a very expensive kimono that hangs all the way to your feet, you do not want to get mud on it when you walk outside.
6| Men’s high Heels | Europe, 1700′s
Shoes and stockings became very important for men in the 1700′s, when the tailored coat and breeches came into fashion and the focus shifted to the lower body. Suddenly, it was all about the shapely legs, and men wanted to wear flattering, fanciful hose and shoes to accentuate them.