Thursday, December 13, 2018

Learn with JOANN: How to Embellish Shoes with Glitter, Paint & Rhinestones

(Video Courtesy: JOANN Fabric and Craft Stores by Youtube Channel)

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Pop Shoes: From winklepickers to platforms

Between the years 1960-63 Tin Pan Alley moguls kept cash registers filled by adhering to the tried and tested sounds of previous decades. Stifling artistic originality a return to tailored suits and patent leather shoes was the stage fashion. Until that is when the beat generation metamorphosed into the new Mersey sound (UK).

Women's hemlines became shorter matching the length of men's jackets. Tight fitting bolero suits (or bum freezers) for men and two piece outfits for women were accompanied with trendy pointed slip on shoes. Better off kids wore loafers which were the fashion of the US, Ivy Leaguers.

Court style shoes took on in the sixties when Jacky Kennedy made them “The shoe“. She bought her shoes from Rene Mancini in Paris. Her monthly order was 12 pairs every three months although this dropped to 8 pairs after her marriage to Onasis.

By the time the Beatles had emerged the ankle boot (or Beatle Boot) was the style and incorporated cuban heels which were a style preferred by the Beatles on their return from Hamburg. Needless to say the fashion became ubiquitous before the toes began to widen and the Chelsea boot or chisel toe became vogue. A point of interest the Beatle Boot was less macho and resembled the style of boot favoured by Victorian ladies. Whilst not effeminate it was distinctly a softer less aggressive style than brothel creepers and winkle pickers. The boots often incorporated a French seem or central stitch running from ankle to toe on the upper. In the convention of symbols this referred to female invagination which was a radical change from the overt connotations of the phallic, long toes or winklepicker shoes. Once the first flush of beat music passed many male groups like Herman’s Hermits were being groomed for the cabaret circuit, during this time girl groups came on with a vengeance.

Tights and mini skirts meant legs became the focus of attention and the longer the better. Although definitely not the first girl group the Shangri-Las captured the sultry look by wearing slacks and high heeled ankle boots. Until then only solo female artists had the confidence to appear in mini skirts with long high heeled boots. This was the first wave of girl power with an array of glamorous girls taking their rightful place on the hit parade clad in sexy boots.

By the mid-sixties UK youth broke into two rival factions: the nouveaux moderns or mods who were followers of black music and designer clothes; and the macho rockers, or neo Ton Up boys. Both styles had started in the fifties but now there were enough young people around to support a dual culture. Needless to say they did not enjoy each other's company and began to terrorise the English coastal towns by fighting each. As mods and rockers fought over the beaches of south coast England they wore the trademarks of their generation, i.e. two types of boots.

Mods wore light dessert boots on their Italian scooters; greasers continued to wear engineer’s boots.

Ton Up boys wore knee length leather boots, tight jeans, white T shirts and leather jackets. Interesting to note the fashion for boots was driven to protect ankles from hot exhausts forced by riding scooters or motor bikes. As the sixties came to an end and the Love Generation set up an alternative culture bare feet and thongs became vogue.

Anti-fashion preferred aggression and shock and unisex styles were epitomised by Dr Martin Boots. The spirit of Rock’n’Roll was alive and well in the emerging skin head culture which inevitably became the forerunner of Punk in the decade to follow.

Meanwhile Disco brought glamour back to footwear and as Greek actors had worn raised shoes to tower over their audience so too did the height challenged glitzy crew to send their fans into sexual ecstasy. Wooden platform shoes first enjoyed a renaissnace before artists like Paul Gadd (Gary Glitter) used his glitter platforms to put the sheen in queen. His platforms were specially made for his feet and allowed him to achieve quite spectacular choreography during his live shows. The style was very popular among the glam rock crowd including Rod 'The Mod" Stewart, Elton Hercules John, and The Thin White Duke himself, David Bowie. The Swedish group Abba probably did more for drag sartorial than any other.

(Video Courtesy: ABBA by Youtube Channel)

Reviewed 29/11/2018

Friday, November 23, 2018

Shoes: The meaning of style

Shoes Thinking Aloud (BBC)

Semmelhack E (2017) Shoes: The meaning of style The University of Chicago Press Books

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Andy Warhol (1928-1987)

As a theme shoes have proven to be an irresistible temptation for many artists, architects and designers. The late Andy Warhol started his career as a commercial artist shoes. and it is not uncommon today, to find internationally acclaimed industrial designers working on shoes. Andy Warhol once had an ingrown toenail on his left big toe and to ease his pain wore trainers with soft uppers slashed across the toe box to allow his painful big toe to protrude. In the spirit of a true artist, he wore brilliant chartreuse tights under his brown pants to demonstrate to all, his pain and discomfort. Yet suffered in silence. Artist extraordinaire Andy Warhol was throughout his life fascinated with both feet and shoes.

In the late 40s, his early career as a commercial and advertising artist had him draw shoes for Glamour magazine. He then worked as a designer for shoe manufacturer Israel Miller. Warhol gave each of his shoes a temperament of its own, with vamps that got longer and longer making the drawings of women's shoes impossibly sleek and slim. They were often decorated with flowers and birds, and silhouetted pumps, bejewelled buckles and pencil-thin heels appeared in award-winning advertisements for manufacturer and retailer I Miller & Sons in The New York Times, Unlike many of his contemporaries who used pseudonyms, Warhol brazenly added his name at the bottom of his ads in the quirky scrawl of his mother. He was very proud of being a commercial artist, and continued to illustrate ads until 1966. Focused on his developing art work Warhol refused to attend exhibitions of his earlier shoe drawings from 1947 to 1959.

He developed the "blotted line" technique , using a modified printing process with inked tracing paper to repeat a basic image whilst creating endless variations on the same theme. Shoes became for a time not only his livelihood but a passion. The seeds of Warhol's future as a pop artist were sown during this time. His iconic silkscreen paintings of Marilyn and Elvis in the 1960s were pre-empted a decade earlier by his "blotted-line" technique of shoes.

In 1955, while still working as a commercial artist for shoe company I. Miller, he published a portfolio of seventeen shoe drawings with accompanying text written by poet, Ralph Pomeroy (1926-1999). Each of the sixteen images in this portfolio featured a shoe centrally placed on the page accompanied by a simple line of text, a verbal-visual composition mimicking the picture and ad copy of advertisements. The drawings were of flat and brightly hand coloured women’s shoes in cerise, turquoise, shocking pink. Pale green, pale blue and orange. The accompanying aphorisms and quotations were reworded by Mrs Julia Warhola, the artist’s mother, and written in her distinctive, decorative script. Warhol and his friends hand-colored the sheets at coloring parties. The portfolio was titled a la Recherché du shoe perdue, a riff on Marcel Prousts famous novel 'À la recherche du temps perdu' (In Search of Lost Time, or Remembrance of Things Past).

About the same time Warhol started making three-dimensional shoe sculptures They were always shoes of fancy and included shoe lasts with high heels. He decorated them in a similar fashion to his drawings using gold and silver leaf and painting motifs in the manner of the blotted line technique employed in his two-dimensional work. The sculptures were rarely exhibited but he did exhibit at the Golden Slipper Show at the Bodley Gallery in NY in 1956. Exhibits included large blotted-line drawings of shoes painted gold, or decorated with gold metal and foil. The show was followed by a two-page colour spread of the Crazy Golden Slippers in Life magazine.

He gave each shoe a name: Elvis Presley (above), James Dean, Mae West, Truman Capote and Julie Andrews, among others, were given shoes that mirrored their characters. The art critics at the time ignored by the established the exhibition and when Warhol offered galleries his work , they refused.

Andy Warhol also enjoyed drawing feet and encouraged his friends, potential lovers, art dealers, and celebrities, to pose as foot models at his studio in New York City. He filled a complete sketch book (unpublished) with lithe sketches of soles, toes and arches, sometimes perched alongside soup cans, crabs or crumpled dollar bills. He even had a smouldering cigar caught between two toes.

He moved away from commercial art in the early 1960s, as the Pop Art movement emerged as a reaction against the seriousness of Abstract Expressionism. Pop artists used common images to express abstract formal relationships. Warhol like others, attempted to fuse elements of popular and high culture and to erase the boundaries between the two. Shoes became one of its emblems because they represented status and consumerism. In 1969, the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) invited Andy Warhol to curate an exhibition entitled Raid the Icebox with Andy Warhol. it featured works he selected from the museum’s permanent collection and featured an eclectic mix of objects in the archives (and rarely seen). Warhol liked the cabinets of shoes in storage and each of the 193 pairs were catalogued and displayed them exactly as they were stored. He also chose baskets, Navajo blankets, paintings, ceramics and costume accessories. Raid the Icebox opened in Houston at Rice University’s Institute for the Arts, then later in 1970, the show moved to the Isaac Delgado Museum in New Orleans. At the Delgado opening, visitors entered the museum through basement storage, with a hot-dog vendor from off the streets serving refreshments. The Delgado also added a functioning vintage jukebox to its installation and suspended a spinning, mirrored globe from the ceiling. Raid the Icebox I became a landmark exhibition.

He continued to produce shoe pictures sporadically e.g. the diamond dust pictures of 1980. Andy Warhol placed glittering, multi-coloured arrangements of women’s shoes against black backgrounds. The idea came from fellow artist, Rupert Smith, who had been using industrial-grade ground-up stones on some prints of his own. Andy saw the potential when he witnessed a box of shoes being turned upside down and dumped on the floor. The artist implemented his signature style of repetition, arranging the shoes in a seemingly haphazard, yet methodical manner to showcase classic high-heels.

Andy Warhol became a hoarder collector and amassed 400,000 objects from restaurant bills, newspaper clippings, unpaid invoices, pornographic pulp novels, airline tickets, supermarket flyers, postage stamps, to Chubby Checker LPs he was compulsive. Many of the items were stored in 610 cardboard boxes, which he referred to as time capsules. Some boxes contained women's shoes, but the weirdest discovery was in capsule No 36, a white gift box wrapped with tissue paper there was a disembodied human foot of unknown origin, it was badly mummified and almost been reduced to dust.

(Video Courtesy: TheSecondComing1789 by Youtube Channel)

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Are our feet getting bigger, or is it a secret ?

Anthropometric studies are used to assess the size, shape and composition of the human body. Major studies are expensive and only carried out sporadically. Often sample populations are taken from low economic urban dwellers, with the majority of subjects non-indigenous, poor and malnourished. This skewed data more than likely mirrored previous studies which allowed designers and manufacturers free range to maintain a status quo of standard sizes.

From the end of the 20th century, new developments in science and technology have given anthropomotrists better opportunity to study body morphology. Data from these studies and from across the globe, suggest our body shape and size is changing and Western feet are getting bigger. However, since anthropometric studies are conducted independently, there is no obligation on manufacturers to change their stock policy to cater for bigger people. Consequently, to the consumer on the fringe there always appears to be a shortage of sizes. In the case of shoes, independent shoe makers (designers) take up the slack and these are traditionally, zealously guarded by their loyal customers.

Research data, from the UK, supports men’s feet are growing bigger. In 2004, the average man's shoe was a UK size eight but now it is size nine. By comparison, forty years ago standard sizes for the male population ranged between seven to size 12. In the US, where army records have been maintained since the War of Independence, recruits then were significantly smaller and weighed much less than today’s recruits. Shoe sizes have almost doubled in 150 years. The rate of change has accelerated from the time of the Second World War to the present and recruits are now 2” taller, 23 pounds heavier, and take shoes two sizes up. Currently there is no Australian data available.

Experts generally agree the change in our size and shape has been due to better nutrition and health care. Research findings suggest eating high-density foods such as pizza and processed foods during puberty can stimulate the growth hormone. This not only makes waists larger, but also other parts of the body including the hands and feet get bigger. Medical experts are concerned recent changes in body morphology, mirror the obesity epidemic many Western Countries are facing.

Our modern preoccupation with small feet has been promulgated by the likes of “Carrie” Bradshaw, "Manolo" Blahnik and celebrity culture, in general. However, this did not start in the 20th century but has a longer linage which takes us back to the Middle Ages and the fear of being possessed by demons. In the days before Enlightenment, disease was thought to be due to evil possession, and if proof for a witch was called for, a common physical deformity to be avoided was a flat foot or evil foot. Anything the shoe maker could do to make sure ladies feet appeared small and dainty, then the more custom they could count upon. Foot binding in Chinese Culture represented and extreme form of the same thing. The fashionable ladies of the 17th and 18th century Europe emulated the style by wearing shoe corsets.

Most people assume standards in foot measurement have been with us since earliest civilization. However, an accurate and reliable measurement has only been available less than 200 years and an organized shoe sizing system, stemming from general measurements, less than one hundred years. When a standard shoe system was introduced in the seventeenth century, fierce competition between shoe makers and the need to ensure customer loyalty meant many ignored it and continued with their own methods. Even today, no agreed International standard size system exists. Depending on the origins of the shoes determines the size and manufacturing system used. The bespoke shoe designer/shoemaker benefits here by offering made to measure footwear on request.

Most shoes today are bought on the net. This has the benefit over the high street retailer of not having a restricted stock. The traditional high street shoe retail outlet is curtailed because of storage space available to them to carry a complete range of fittings. Customers out with average sizes are disadvantaged, and this anecdotally gives the false impression there are no larger shoes available.

(Video Courtesy: 0dot0 Published by Youtube Channel)

Monday, October 29, 2018

Know Your Shoes : the Oxford

(Video Courtesy:
Published by Youtube Channel)

Friday, October 26, 2018

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Julie Bishop : St Louis Blues over Jimmy Choo shoes

Former foreign minister in Australia, Julie Bishop might find herself in trouble over her Jimmy Choo shoes. The high-profile politician was given a pair of shoes as a gift, by a company linked to designer Jimmy Choo. Unfortunately, it appears she failed to register the gift and in Australia, ministers must pay for extravagant gifts. Under a gift policy, federal ministers are allowed to keep gifts from private sources in the course of official business provided it is worth less than $300. But if the gift is worth more, the minister must "buy" it by paying the difference between the $300 threshold and its commercial value. Ministers must complete a form, attach evidence of the gift's value, and enclose a personal cheque or money order to the Collector of Public Monies. According to reports, evidence provided to the Senate suggests Ms Bishop has not paid any difference in the value of the Aboriginal print shoes and the $300 limit.

Ms Bishop's register of interests was updated in March to note she had been given a pair of "Aboriginal print shoes" by Grand Master Lineage. Grand Master Lineage is a new Chinese company connected to Jimmy Choo, the Malaysian-born designer. Choo last year collaborated with Australian Indigenous artist Peter Farmer for a new line of couture shoes featuring striking Aboriginal artwork. According to Farmer there were only a handful of pairs in the world bearing his Aboriginal artwork, and the shoes are estimated at $25,000. It is not clear whether Grand Master Lineage gave Ms Bishop these shoes, or a less expensive pair. Ms Bishop would not answer whether the shoes she disclosed in March were created by Mr Farmer.

The former foreign minister has also declined to answer questions about the gift, insisting she has complied with her obligations despite parliamentary documents casting doubt on that claim. Earlier this year, Julia Bishop declined to explain whether she paid for jewellery designed by friend and Liberal party donor Margot McKinney, estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. Ms Bishop has never said if she owns or borrows the jewellery, which features prominently on her Instagram account and is then reposted for promotional purposes by the designer. A Fairfax Media freedom of information request relating to any gifts Ms Bishop has paid for was deemed "fully exempt" from public disclosure

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Drive for more shoemakers in the UK

The British Footwear Association, based in Northamptonshire, has set up an apprenticeship scheme to try to tempt people into the profession. The industry employs about 4,000 people in the UK and make six million pairs of shoes each year with almost half exported to other countries. In a fine pair of shoes there are between 200 to 300 processes and apprentices learn shoe making skills that will make them valuable employees. Firms across the country have signed up to offer apprenticeships, including some of the 22 shoemakers in Northamptonshire. The county was once the shoemaking capital of the world but due to increasing costs in the mid-20th Century, many manufacturing processes moved abroad. The remaining companies successfully divested into luxury handmade shoes around the world.

(Video Courtesy: Movieclips Published on Youtube Channel)

Monday, July 30, 2018

Bata the Shoemaker's Revolution

Bata the Shoemaker's Revolution Witness BBC World Service Bata was a Czech company which pioneered assembly line shoemaking and sold affordable footwear around the world. Its factory near London became key to its expansion. Dina Newman speaks to one of its senior engineers, Mick Pinion, about the company's remarkable history and how it shod millions in Africa and Asia.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

tongue + chic exhibition at PHILLIPS

The tongue + chic exhibition will bring together an exciting selection of one-of-a-kind sneakers featuring collaborations with Trevor "Trouble" Andrew, KAWS, Daniel Arsham, Stash, Daniel "Mache" Gamache, theheyyman and Shantell Martin, among others. Curated by Elizabeth Semmelhack, Senior Curator at the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto, in collaboration with Arnold Lehman, tongue + chic celebrates these utilitarian objects which have become highly coveted works that straddle the divide between fashion and art.

The exhibition is at PHILLIPS 450 Park Avenue, New York from 16 July – 31 August with viewing Monday-Friday 10am-6pm

Portraits Completed

Ogilvy Chicago had a brilliant campaign entitled "Portraits Completed", for the shoe polish brand Kiwi . Portraits Completed. won two prizes in Print and Publishing at the Cannes Festival in 2017. The award-winning campaign displayed the masterpieces with what the subjects might have been wearing on their feet.

(Video Courtesy: CasualVideoGinger Youtube Channel)

Monday, July 2, 2018

How to make a Shoe by Hand, Part 1 Intro and Patternmaking

(Video Courtesy: Andrew Wrigley Youtube Channel)

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Instant shoes: Things can only get more automated

Historically mass production of footwear has always been labor intensive and less than environmentally friendly . Automated technology may help and whilst the technology is not quite advanced enough yet to be fully automated,early signs are it is getting there. The use of robotics in shoe manufacture is beginning to shape the footwear industry’s growth by pushing boundaries, like same day manufacture and production. The Keen Uneekbot is a miniature manufacturing marvel that assembles shoes in six minutes. Colours can be selected from menus.

(Video Courtesy: Keen Youtube Channel)

In 2005, Keen Footwear introduced the Uneek sandal. The entire shoe was held together by a single cord that was weaven through both the sole and a lightweight upper.

The next stage was to develop a robot capable of building custom versions of the sandal, anytime or anywhere. In conjunction with automation specialists, the House of Design , they came up with “the world’s smallest shoe factory.” The system consists of two robotic arms, several custom fixtures, and a tablet which serves as the robot’s controller, allowing users to start and stop the shoe-making process or input important variables.

When activated, the two arms work together to create a custom pair of Uneek sandals, automatically selecting the proper coloured cord before seamlessly weaving it through the shoe’s other components. In fact, on its fastest setting, the robot completes its task in just six minutes, which is roughly half the time it takes someone to accomplish the same work by hand. The shoe is then handed off to an actual human, who checks the Uneekbot’s work for quality control and finishes the last few steps of its construction. The sole needs to be finished by hand. and bungee material is used to thread through the shoe loops. Bungee material is used to make it tight, and then more is added to extend room around the insole so the foot can fit.

Designers were determined to reduce the carbon footprint in shoe manufacture and the Uneekbot accomplishes this in no short measure by eliminating excess waste and dramatically reducing the time required to create a single shoe. Making shoes there and then also eliminates fossil fuel emissions (and costs) associated with shipping footwear to the consumer.

Currently to promote and educate budding designers on innovation and creativity, the little robot is on a North American tour.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Casualization of fashion. Smart sneakers

One reason for the recent increase in presence of ath-lesure footwear in CBDs is the relaxation of office dress codes including the rise of casual Friday or dress down days at the office. An increasing number of companies now invite their employees to participate and wear casual attire including sneakers to work. This 'casualization of fashion footwear,' has come as a bonus to the sneaker manufacturers whilst more traditional shoe manufacturers continue to struggle in the high street.

Fashion crossover from sport to high street takes many forms but in the case of trainers it started with industrial action in the transport industry in North American cities. Thousands of commuters were sent scrambling to their closets for comfortable shoes to walk to work. The aerobic craze of the 70s and the jogging and running boommeant the humble canvas topped shoes had gone through a fashion facelift and designer trainers were seen everywhere from streets, playing fields, gymnasia to catwalks. A hybrid shoe design soon emerged , this was called the cross trainer. The generic sports shoe incorporated the good fitting features along with the ideal of a shoe designed for recreational physical activity. New polymer materials allowed the combination of lightweight strong uppers with well supported and robust outsoles.

The new generation of trainers are smartshoes, trainers with an electronic edge. These typically feature a Bluetooth-connected accessory (usually insoles) that link activity or location to a smartphone app. Typically these count daily steps and calculate calorie intake, sort of thing. However, there is no end to the smart-shoe possibilities: from ordering dinner and displaying works of art to evading spills and biodegrading. Nothing says innovation like high-tops that order pizza and pause live TV. Presently the smart shoe market is dominated by big names (Nike, Under Armour, and adidas) although some relative unknowns (Salted Venture, Daphne, 361) are making their presence felt too.

(Video Courtesy: Freeze Lists Youtube Channel)

Thursday, May 31, 2018

The World at Your Feet: Episode 5 - Chinese Shoes for Bound Feet

(Video Courtesy: Bata Shoe Museum Youtube Channel)

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

From foot adornment to footwear

According to Frugal (1930) clothing has important social significance which tells much about the personality of the wearer. With the exception of hands and faces, humans see and react to the visual signals emitted by clothing. This provides the safest distance to judge a stranger, the more intimate relationship then the more important finer features and speech play. Clothes serve three main purposes: decoration, modesty and protection. Whilst the latter may appear the most logical it is not supported by history (both ancient and modern). Fig leaf mentality may explain why we have covered up, but by far the major reason for clothing is decoration. The essential purpose of decoration was to beautify bodily appearance, so as to attract admiring glances from others and fortify self-esteem. Modesty, on the other hand, makes us hide bodily attributes in an attempt to refrain from drawing attention of others. When decoration and modesty are pitted together this can provide a psychological conflict or neurosis. The degree of harmony or compromise between conflicting interests may be clearly seen in shoes.

Are feet sex organs?

Sadly no, but they do exhibit unique features which separate us from all other beings. We have a weight bearing heel, and inside arch, and big toe. Their significance is we developed an upright stance and no other species can do that. The two million years of evolution between Homo rectus and Homo sapian meant the human brain became far more complex. Freud, concurred the importance of the foot in our evolution was convinced upright stance led to the frontal display of both primary and secondary sex organs. He argued humans had no need to develop other senses when greatest benefit was gained by perfecting sight.

Cheek to cheek

Anthropologists believe humans became seeing beings as weight bearing feet influenced the form and function of buttocks, bosoms; the legs and thighs, tummies, hips and even genitalia. The pedal extremities are well supplied by nerve pathways which transmit messages to multiple and diverse areas of the brain, including the sensory parietal lobe. By coincidence the sensory centre for feet lies in close proximity to sensory nerves of the genitalia. This may explain why for some people neural print-through causes their feet to become sexually expressive. However for the vast majority feet remain sensual objects. In any event we are the only beings on the planet to be able to make love standing up, face to face.

Why did we wear clothes?

Without doubt, in the minds of experts, the greatest motive for wearing clothes is sexual. Not in the fig leaf sense (sinful) but to further enhance the attractiveness of the wearer. Human decoration has from the beginning of time celebrated appropriation and always demonstratively directed attention to the genital organs of the body. The theory of Displacement of Effect would support shoes have become symbols of the primary sexual organs. As socialisation took place shoes became part of ritual for ceremonial purposes before eventually becoming costume for all (Harrold & Legg, 1986). Fashionable footwear was always the prerogative of the ruling classes and up until the Middle Ages, the preserve of men. Only very much later did shoes become associated with protection from the elements and alien terrain. This was principally due to the lack of knowledge on how to construct robust, hard wearing footwear.


Another common use of decoration was display of trophies although the practicalities of survival might suggest clothing such as shoes were made from edible proteins. The romantic impression strength and courage of animals was so admired by the early hunters and gatherers that they wore their skins to harness these qualities, may hide the real reason but in the absence of evidence, we can never be sure. From cave paintings prehistoric people decorated and scarified their skins presumably to protect themselves from imaginary evil spirits. Later these patterns were incorporated into clothing designs as talisman with significant social and spiritual meaning. Such designs are clearly visible today in the brogue patterns worn in shoes. Victors also kept mementos of the vanquished, such as their testicles. These curios are seen in tassels on loafers. Lucky tokens were also a feature of primal decoration to which the penny loafer and Mukluk boots are two good examples. Rank, occupation and wealth were also encoded into types of clothing. Unshod feet in Roman times were the mark of slaves, male citizens had the right to wear sandals, and military station was depicted by the height of boot worn by the soldier. From early biblical times elevated sandals were worn by sex workers.

Shoes and personality

The word shoe (scoe) is Anglo-Saxon, meaning 'to cover'. According to Rossi (1993) this is not in a protective sense but rather to hide an erogenous zone. Body parts play a key role in non verbal communication and may be decoded as cortically meaningful (Givens, 2002). Simply put shoes outwardly represent a non-verbal sign of gender, presence, and personality. According to Sonja Bata (founder of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto) "Shoes hold the key to human identity." They appear unparalleled in their ability to reveal the personality of the wearer. Many believe this is due to the encoded messages they contain which are recognised by our primal subconscious. Where this is most obvious perhaps is related to shoe choice and our psychosexual make up and personality. Pond, reminds us shoes are totems of disembodied lust, in some cases so strong as to magically transform us into beautiful, handsome, confident, or heroic persons. They appear true talisman and worthy of a fetishism. Today footwear communicates general values, personality traits, roles and goals. Our psychological, cultural and expression of our spirit are all well served by our footwear. They influence the way we think, feel, act as well as react to others.

Gender equity

According to Belk (2001) as consumers we appear to have an innate preference for products that not only function well, but also express themselves. Males are often more daring and naughty than their female counterparts in what they choose to wear. One theory why men use heavier apparel to create illusionary effects of masculinity and virility is because they have fewer erogenous qualities. Women on the other hand use less to highlight their natural erogenous features. Female footwear shows personality and uniqueness (I am someone special). Male Footwear is part of a uniform to mark membership in a group (I am a cowboy). Footwear suggests connection with terra firma "both feet on the ground". An elevated heel implies the ability to defy the Earth's gravity whereas four wheel drive shoes send quite a different message.

Women's shoes

Women's shoes can be classified into three general groups. Revealing shoes are 'bare all' shoes with the toes, heel, ankle and top of the foot all visible and calling attention to the frailty of the small delicate foot. Concealing shoes transmit a suggestive erotic message of tight containment. Both proclaim femininity, individuality and sexual allure. High heels make the frame appear more curvatious with bosoms and buttocks protruding and less accentuation on the waist. Increased height. This may appeal to the height challenged as well as giving an outward appearance of a smaller foot. To the less well endowed, added height from heels encourages an attractive boyish appearance, so enjoyed by the ancient Egyptians. Masking shoes, the third category, down plays personality by discouraging its notice. Often worn with socks, sensible shoes tend to be boxy, sturdy and squared off.

Mens' shoes

Gender specific footgear for men fall into three categories: dominant, submissive or neutral. Dominant shoes are robust, wide, thick soled and heavy. Submissive shoes are narrow, lightweight thin soles, with tapering toes. Gracile to suggest vulnerability with a deliberate down play of foot's size and bluntness. The neutral shoe is fashionably bland and introverted. It is neither wide nor narrow, neither pointed nor blunt. The sole is neither thick nor thin, nor is the shoe obviously masculine or feminine. Neutral shoes project non-rebellious non-dominant anti-corporate mood in the work place.

Fashion line

Shoes can be divided into different design lines, which suit certain types of feet. The Classic line caters for the average foot with its emphasis on refinement, elegance and high fashion. These shoes are sleek, slightly chunky with smooth circle or geometric shapes but no angles. The Dramatic line is more suited to the narrow foot with its trim sleek and elegant lines and emphasis on angular shapes. Small feet are highlighted in the Romantic line with soft flowing lines that showcase foot contours. Detailed but lavish footwear. Moderate to large feet are often best in natural lines which are shoes sometimes chunky and always funky. The Gamin line favours moderate to narrow feet. Sharp, straight and crisp footwear designed in geometric and asymmetrical shapes, worn in colourful leathers and often with dark hosiery (sheer)

Shoe styles
According to Rossi (1993), there are eight basic styles i.e. the sandal, the monk, the moccasin, the mule, the clog, the pump, the boot and the lacing shoe.


One of the oldest and simplest forms of foot covering which date back many thousands of years. Stone Age sandals were a spontaneous invention, which helped protect vulnerable feet from alien environments. Later the spread of trade among Mediterranean countries accounts why sandals became associated with affluence but it took until the Romans before they became robust footwear, worn by the army. The trade of sandal making was almost lost after the Fall of the Roman Empire and only rediscovered in the early twentieth century when the heeled sandal was associated with Hollywood’s sirens. Now considered the sexiest shoe women can wear, the 'venez y voir' or come hither look is further enhanced with backless or slings back designs. All in an endeavour to catch 'back interest', that is admiring glances from suitable suitors whose eyes are transfixed on the beauty even after she has passed by. Sexy sandals are subtly erotic whereas bitchy sandals are flagrantly sexual (Jayne Mansfield). Women wearing the former are trying to convey a message, which says they want to be noticed and admired as feminine and sensuous women. According to Eisman (2002), today's male thong wearers may appear crude but beneath this veneer lurks a gentle, wounded soul. Dreamers and hopeless romantics choose Jesus sandals to represent their soulful and gentle personalities. Rough and ready types wear sport sandals similar in the way suburban dwellers drive four wheel vehicles. New Age self assured types exude their inner comfort by choosing reflexology sandals.

The Monk

The monk refers to the wide strap across the instep, which is attached to a buckle. The shoe was worn originally by Alpine monks in the 15th century and later caught a fashion following when ornate buckles took on the guise of shoe jewelry. Wearing them was a mark of prosperity and once again the prerogative of men. After the French Revolution, highly decorated shoes indicated social status and buckles soon became passé as the fashion for boots took over. Buckles meantime became popular with women's shoes. Today they survive in the most mundane form as fastenings for sandals and casual shoes worn by men and children. The monk style of shoe remains a male preserve and is worn by non conventional types assured in their mind their alternative retaining medium is an able match to the more predicable lacing persona. Men who wear peacock buckles are less sexually aggressive, more flamboyant, brazen, and ostentatious. Insecure types with a driving need for personality identity. However don't be fooled the flash exterior is superficial and under the surface lies a soft caring side to their nature, according to Eisman (2002).


By far the oldest shoe, dating back 15,000 years. Mongol tribes who migrated across the Bearing Straight 9 (circa 30,000 BCE) probably wore a simple wrap around hide held on with rawhide thongs. More associated with tribes of North American Indians who lived on the Ottawa River near the northern tributaries of the St. Lawrence River moccasins were stylised with fringes and coloured beads. Each tribe had their own distinctive style and decoration, much of which would depict rank and occupation. Today moccasin shoes usually describe imitation moccasins, which had their origins in Norway. The Norwegian Peasant Slip-on (or weejun) was first imported to the US by tourists in the 1930s. When Gucci made leather loafers in refined calfskin with a metal snaffle across the instep this had instant appeal. Slick, successful sophisticates flocked to wear them. The Rolls Royce of shoes celebrated craftsmanship, grooming and conformity but with just a hint of excitement. This was often expressed latently in the snaffle design. A two tassel ornamentation was common and is thought the represent symbolic testicles found in many native customs. A gold chain had obvious sado masochistic association and would be worn by domineering types. Soon loafers were available in spectator style (two colours) and by the 50s, Penny Loafers became all the rage with the campus based Ivy Leaguers of the US. Here the testicles were replaced with a lucky penny, which was incorporated in the snaffle. Popular with Hooray Henries of the time, the shoes were full of potential and excitement, in truth of course the shoe style represented no change and security rather than adventure, hence the lucky penny. When low vamp loafers were designed for females and made in soft kid leather they guaranteed successful cross over. College kids wore suede loafers, which was the source of inspiration for blue suede shoes. Imitation moccasins are sensuous shoes, typified by the stylised flair, slightly feminine but overtly masculine, these shoes are preferred by the lounge lizard who is both vain and domineering. Charmers with intoxicating personality the shoe's exaggerated proportions and adornments give a clue to the wearer's true persona. On the positive side moccasin wearers value quality over trends and exude a relaxed elegance that is timeless and very alluring. These people are confident and comfortable to be with. They enjoy looking cool and revel in the good life. Beware bad lots who are attracted to square toed loafers these fellows suffer illusions of grandeur are often brash and certainly preoccupied with cash. Loafers for women are conservative or neuter shoes i.e. neither sex-attractive nor sex-distractive. Neuter shoes reflect a quiescent or semi-active libido preferred by middle aged married women.


Clogs describe wooden soled shoes traditionally worn by peasants and more recently associated with Scandinavia. Two basic types are the sabot (or wooden shoe) and the more fashionable clog (wooden soled shoe with a leather upper). Clog wearers are considered complex and intriguing characters usually cool types with a strange and difficult past that will leave you better for knowing him. One clog devotee is Brian May of Queen. Once a cloggie then always a cloggie, or so it seems. Many men are turned onto clogs by seeing well turned ladies wearing them. Some are even attracted to the noise the clog makes. Hence there are a lot of closet clog wearers out there.


Originally these were shoes with wrap around leggings and date back approximately 4.5 thousand years. Later when the leather leggings resembled a bucket, the French called then 'butt' meaning water bucket. These evolved in boute and finally boot. Over the centuries boots have undergone many changes and been gendered for their troubles. Boots as a fashion invariably follow war and represent coping with threat. Certainly the most contrived style is cowboy boots which have little to do with real Wild West and more to do with urban macho wannabes. The cowboy boot invokes heroic myth of the west, which promulgates rugged individualism, independence, quiet strength, and alienation from civilisation. They are a sign of authority and suggest strength by adding stature and stability. A boot's snug contact with pressure sensitive Pacinian corpuscles of the lower leg provides tactile reassurance while supporting the long tendons that run to the feet. Boots stabilise the ankle. Research has shown women find men in cowboy boots more attractive. Highly decorated boots express the gentler feminine side of the narcissistic wearer who may be rather superficial but always entertaining, if only for a short time. Boots with pointed toes indicate intense ambition. Whilst the suave and sophisticated sharpie may give out assured confidence and good humour that is as much as you are likely to get from them. The fashion for sharp toes can be traced to the resurgence of paganism and in particular a celebration of Pryapus. Men challenged by the absence of height prefer high heels. Wearers of biker's boots appear control freaks. No surprise there. This who sport elasticised boots may be free spirits who enjoy the simple comforts in life. Modern guys prefer the Yellow Suede, Hiking Boots, suppressed machismo, emaciated by modern day domesticity. Most will lack adventure in their lives but have four wheel boots to show they are ready (if not always willing). Doc Martens lacing boots are the mark of natural loners who may not seek close relationships. Many have leadership qualities with total commitment to passionate causes. The physiological benefits of boots may give the feeling of security on the street. According to Australian journalist, Jane Fraser, ugg boot (sheepskin boot) is to the foot what Vegemite is to the tongue, what maroon is to a Queenslander, what 'haitch' is to a Catholic. What she might be surprised to learn is elsewhere in the global village creative souls designed for success but tired of convention, wear ugg Boots. This makes them a personality, which is both unpredictable and capable of the unexpected. The fashion boot without doubt has given liberated women freedom style and support. Not to mention a lot of pleasure to men.

Pumps (Court Shoes)

The plain seamless pump started life as a heel-less shoe worn indoors. It was a slip on which did not extend beyond or above the vamp and quarter top lines, held onto the foot without a fastening, although later a wrap around strap like a ballet slipper was used. In the UK the pump was known as a court shoe. By the nineteenth century the slip on pump had become sophisticated worn by both men and women. A low front pump deliberately tantalised by exposing suggestive toe cleavage. When dandy Count D'Orsay introduced a pump style which was low cut on the sides to expose the curve of the long arch and the sinuous movements of the foot the shoe took on extra sensual components. The sensual trifecta was completed with the addition of higher heels. By the thirties daytime shoes were neat and feminine-looking with oval toes and straight, high heels. The classic court shoe was an everyday basic but the new look slender heeled sandals with ankle and T straps in reptile skins, soft kid, and suede and satin were very much the desire of most. Shoes were immaculately presented matt fabrics were always well brushed and leather buffed to a high gloss. Strappy designs were more evident in the more elegant evening shoes. The straps were sometimes plaited or made of satin ribbon and crossed over like ballet pumps. Other styles were dotted with glitter and fastened with fancy gold, silver or diamante buckles. The sides and heels of the shoes were sometimes decorated with tiny gold flecks or diamante tips. Gold and silver 'Charleston' sandals were very popular and a ready accessory for eveningwear. Other shoes were covered with fabric to match a particular dress; alternatively dresses in plain velvet satin or chiffon were worn with patterned shoes, making pretty high-heeled sandals covered in eye-catching, glittering brocade. Hollywood loved two types of women's shoes i.e. the high heeled pump which always looked glamorous despite its inappropriateness to the many action scenes the heroines were depicted wearing them; and the thin strappy sandal as worn by Hayworth, Garbo and Davis represented a willing partner to seduction. Screen beauties rarely forsook these stereotypical props and when they did it became a memorable event. Being filmed in anything else could only add further charm to their existing persona.The origins of heeled shoes probably came from shepherds tending their flocks on steep mountainous country in Pre Hellenic Times. As trade spread across the Mediterranean the elevated sandal became a fashion vogue for rich and powerful men. Later elevated shoes were worn by actors and streetwalkers. The fashion heel for women ironically came in the sixteenth century after a short fling with platform shoes. Chopines were worn by Venetian women of substance both to celebrate the leg as well as (and probably more importantly) to display the sumptuous clothing of the times. Reported falls (or miscarriage) in pregnant women meant the platform was banned but cleaver shoemakers cored out the section of the platform corresponding to the ball of the foot. Ironically by stabilising the foot they created the first orthopaedic footwear or high-heeled shoe. Despite this the heeled shoe we know today could not have been made in the past, prior to developed lasting techniques used for mass production at the turn of the 19th century. Once heeled shoes became passé for fashionable women the style was still enjoyed by female sex workers, even after the Revolution. So popular was the style for heels among sex workers the French girls that immigrated to the US continued to wear them much to the delight of full blooded all American Males. Soon after the first US heel factory was opened. With the introduction of Hollywood came the need to depict visually heroes and villains, clothing took on a special meaning especially with improved cinema photography and the full body shot. Clothing stereo types included shoes where the heeled sandal represents the modern-day, Jezebel. This image was forever frozen with the introduction of the stiletto in the early fifties, which happened to correspond for many with the beginnings of a post war permissive age. High heels are seen as a rite of passage from girl to women. Blisters and sprains worn with pride in a similar manner to nickel allergies.

Lacing Shoe

Lacing shoes were introduced in the seventeenth century in England. At first they were thought to be rather effeminate but later took a fashion hold when fops at Oxford University wore them in the eighteenth century. The Oxford shoe became a foot corset designed to highlight the curves of men's feet. Worn tight to the foot the shoes were smaller than the foot and always with a heel. This meant the man minced which became accepted norm for real me. Corn cutting became a popular service during this time. It took until the nineteenth century before the fashion crossed the Atlantic and came with English invasion. This movement would influence adult costume for the next half a century. To accommodate broader feet Bluchers were adopted and lacing shoes become synonymous with conservative dress attire for both men and women. Patent Leather was developed in the thirties as a waterproof material for shoes. Now solid dependable types, stalwarts of community, wore lacing shoes. Not without its irony and despite their origins lacing shoes are classified as eunuch shoe for men, and sexless or comfortable footwear for women. The later is a euphemism for lesbianism. According to Rossi people who wear lacing shoes wish to voluntarily withdraw from natural concerns of sexual attraction e.g. funeral directors, paramedics, and nurses. Non conformists may wear brogue patterns or two-tone uppers indicating a psychosexual masquerade with the masculine costume smothering the peacock inside. Jack Kennedy was a man who preferred high fashion in footwear but conformed for his public image. Neuter shoes are neither sexy nor sexless neither fashionable nor non-fashionable. They exhibit a glimmer of promise at first inspection, but on a closer look are found wanting, i.e. an eunuch like quality. A conservative fashion with medium to low heel, semi-rounded toe, closed rather than open toe box. The colour subdued, the materials conventional and the ornamentation, if any, minimal. Passive styles for psychosexually passive people (Rossi, 1993). The sandshoe which is a canvas Oxford was an invention of the 19th century and although had humble beginnings without doubt heralded the beginning of the most popular footwear of existence. Middle class preoccupation with sport and recreation meant sport kits included dedicated sports shoes. BY the middle of the 20th century they became the icons of youth. Lacing shoes with attitude have become inseparable from youthful rebellion. Sport shoes are now perceived an essential part of ritual garb associated with both the best of being human as well as its darker side. From the time Jimmy Dean endorsed coolness, when he was photographed wearing tennis sneakers to MC Hammer rapped praise on his Adidas sneakers, the sporting Oxford has ruled supreme. People who wear sneakers are not too concerned with their looks but do prize comfort and security over anything else. Wearers of designer trainers are probably ambitious, motivated and driven in all their endeavours. Their materialistic outlook and competitive nature however puts them under enormous internal pressures. The carefree casual appearance of those wearing bowling shoes (a leather top hybred) belies a passionate conversationalist who is intensely romantic. These people are often well traveled and strongly opinionated. Traditionalists too self-conscious to be really cool, wear running shoes. These people are not part of the 'in crowd' but would dearly love to be. Large size, bold contrasts, and loud colours suggest youth and physical fitness. Often more theoretical than actual. Identification with team sports (especially star players) are preference for informality and comfort.

The Mule

Mules or slip shoes started as heelless, quarter less slippers worn in Elizabethan times. Later they became associated with the boudoir and are the ancestors of bedroom slippers, and worn by women of distinction. Richly endowed with silk and velvet these were often heavily bejeweled or highly decorated. During the nineteenth century when Manet's painting of Olympia was revealed to the public it caused a riot. The reclining courtesan was seen playfully holding her foot half in and out of her mules. The implications were obvious to all. The shoe has enjoyed a recent renaissance with Ath Leisure and has become more popular in the US, post '11/09'. Realisation the shoe could be a weapon, combined with widely broadcast images of discarded shoes left behind as people tried to escape falling masonry had a major impact. Increased security associated with travel, especially by air, has given the mule a new lease of life. The shoe is worn by pragmatists, people who enjoy comfort as well as fashion.

Sensible Footwear

Sensible shoes are considered sexless, stripped of illusion and sexual promise. Neither do they seek sexual communication, nor do they receive any. They are shoes without personality and often worn through necessity. Typically seen in service personnel and orthopaedic footwear.


Before the rebellion of 1745, the Celtic population (of Scotland and Ireland) went barefoot all year round. Either sex, rich or poor prided themselves on going barefoot as if a sense of national pride. Sassenachs were considered less hardy because they wore shoes. Scots and Irish settlers to the colonies continued to go barefoot until the end of the 18th century. It is still very much in living memory that children and adults went barefoot in Australia not because of adversity but because it was second nature. Times are a changing however and intense fear of low socio-economic groups mean going barefoot today is not encouraged by private owners of public spaces. Hence people who continue to do so have made a life style choice which often alienates them from society. Most appear in perfect peace with themselves, refreshingly relaxed and content with the simple pleasures of life.

Anon 1927 A retrospect The Chiropodist 14: 87 170.
Barsis M 1973 The common man through the centuries New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing
Black JA Garland M 1975 A history of fashion London: Orbis Publishing
Boucher F 1988 A history of costume in the west London: Thames & Hudson
Breiner S.J 1992 Sexuality in traditional China: its relationship to child abuse Child Psychiatry Human Development 23:2 53-67.
Broby-Johansen R 1968 Body and clothes: an illustrated history of costume London: Faber and Faber
Burnett EK 1926 Romantic chapters in the history of the shoe: an extrvaganza The Chiropodist 77:13 204-210.
Cunnington C W 1941 Why women wear clothes London: Faber & Faber
Girotti E 1997 Footwear:la calzatura San Francisco: Chronicle Books
Healey T 1977 History of costume London: Macdonald Educational
Hurlock E B 1965 Sumptuary law In Dress, adornment and the social order John Wiley & Sons
Koetzle M & Scheid U 1994 Feu d' amour Koln: Benedikt Taschen
Lake N 1954 The problem with footwear The Chiropodist 9:8 245-250.
Laver J 1988 Costume and fashion :a concise history Thames and Hudson
Masson G 1975 Courtesans of the italian renaissance London: Cox and Wymann Ltd.
Mazza S 1994 Cinderella's Revenge San Francisco: Chronicle Books
McDowell C 1997 The man of fashion :Peacock males and prefect gentlemen London: Thames and Hudson
O'Keeffe L 1996 Shoes: a celebration of pumps, sandals & slippers New York: Workman Publishing
Olliver C W 1996 Handbook of magic and witchcraft London: Senate
Pierre M Antoine Sabbagh M 1988 Europe in the middle ages New Jersey: Silver Burdett Press Inc.
Pitt Rivers G.H.L.F. 1965 Female foot deformation in modern europe and in ancient china Journal of the College of General Parctitioners 9 175-179.
Ploss Bartels 1927 Das Weib 1 286:300
Strutt J 1970 The dress and habits of the people of England Volume I London: Rewoord Press Ltd.
Tuick C 1999 Dressed (or undressed) for success University of Southern California Chronicle
Wright T 1922 The romance of the shoe being the history of shoemaking London: Farncombe & Sons

Belk RS 2001 Shoes and self Conference presentation 8th Interdisciplinary Conference on Research in Consumption La Sorbonne Paris 25-29 July.
Crontz G (ed) 1986 Historic dress of the old west Poole: Blandford Press
Eisman K 2002 How to tell a man by his shoes Sydney:Pan Macmillan Australia.
Flugel JC 1930 The psychology of clothes London: Internatioanl Universities Press
Givens DB 2001 Centre for Nonverbal Studies Harrold R Legg P 1986 Folk costumes of the world London: Blandford Press
Rossi WA 1993 The sex life of the foot and shoe Malabar: Kreiger Press.