Shoe History Throughout The Years

Shoe History Throughout The Years

When you think about shoes, it’s hard to imagine the world without them. However, many years ago before these amazing garments were created that’s exactly what the world was like. Over time, shoes have progressed from something basic and solely practical to a beloved fashion accessory that can span genders, styles, and backgrounds.

During the progression of shoes, we’ve seen some iconic brands emerge and become the most known around the world for how well they create footwear. Nike, Puma, and Vans are just a few of these most loved shoe icons thanks to the way they have changed the world of footwear forever and continue to surprise us with innovative and fashionable designs.

The History Of The Shoe

It’s believed through discoveries made by archaeologists that shoes were invented around the Middle Paleolithic era which occurred some 40,000 years ago.

Made from a basic design of wrap around leather, these were purely to protect the wearer’s feet from the elements, or dangerous things laying on the ground.

Ancient Footware was very functional

Moving forward to more modern times, during the early Baroque period, footwear began to have more of an emphasis on fashion as well as practicality with different materials being worn by different classes.

Black leather was popular among those less fortunate, and aristocrats wore shoes made from wood. During these early ages, everything from silk to leather was used to create shoes, and as they got more diverse they began to have an even greater impact on fashion than before.

Baroque Shoes Fashionable

Up until 1850, both sides of the shoe were exactly the same, so the left and right weren't invented until quite late in the shoe’s history. Things such as heels and shape also adjusted to suit fashion, and to suit the different purposes that the wearer had.

As the shoemaking process became simpler and relied more on machinery, shoes become cheaper and more comfortable to wear as well.

Advancements In Shoes

Throughout the years, there have been some memorable milestones in terms of shoes and shoe making which have led to the styles we know today. Here are just a few important dates in shoe history and what was achieved.

  • The modern shoelace was invented in 1790, and before this, buckles were used to fasten them together
  • In 1899, the rubber heel was patented which made it easier for people to walk in comfort while wearing their shoes
  • ​The first canvas top sneaker was made in 1917, given its name due to the fact they were whisper quiet and could be worn stealthily
  • A machine for sewing boots and shoes was patented in 1871 by the Goodyears and made the mass production of shoes possible

These are just some of the more memorable advancements in shoe history, but by no means the end of exciting things to come for this garment.

Iconic Shoes Throughout The Years

When you think about the history of shoes, and in particular the last 40 years or so, there are a few brands which stand out as iconic. These brands have been known for making the latest and greatest shoes on earth, and their names are synonymous with quality and innovative footwear.


Undoubtedly the most famous footwear brand on earth, Nike has always been known for creating innovative products that are marketed to those with an active lifestyle. The most famous part of Nike shoe history would be their Air Max and Air Jordan styles which took the world by storm when they were first released in stores in the mid-80s.

Air Jordans

Since then, Nike has continued to create fashionable and functional shoes intended for sports including golf, basketball, and running.


Close to 100 years ago, Puma was born from a split in a company with one half creating this iconic brand and the other half going on to create Adidas. With a focus on sports shoes mainly, Puma shoe history has focused on making practical but fashionable shoes over the years.

More recently, though, the brand has become synonymous with using fashionable celebrities to create shoe lines for them, including Rihanna and Kylie Jenner.


This iconic company started over 50 years ago with a sole focus on creating shoes for skateboarding and other extreme sports. Van's shoe history states that the company began by making shoes and selling them directly to the public, and when demand got too high they were mass produced and stocked in the store.

Vans Shoes

Vans now make everything from hats to t-shirts, but their Authentic range of shoes are still some of the most popular in the world.

Jimmy Choo

As the son of a cobbler, it’s no wonder that shoe designer Jimmy Choo had this talent in his blood, creating his first pair of shoes at age 11.

Known as some of the most fashionable and edgy shoes available today, Jimmy Choos are loved by the fashion elite and worn only by those who can afford their high cost with a huge focus on women’s styles.

What’s Next For Shoes

After looking at the trends that shoes have followed over the year, it’s hard to say exactly which fashions will be the next big thing in footwear.

However, if history is anything to go by it's fair to say that shoes will become cheaper, the styles and designs will continue to grow, and it will be easier than ever to customize your own shoes to meet your personal taste.

What will be the future of shoes

What started as a purely functional garment intended to protect the wearer from whatever dangers may be lurking on the ground is now something that represents bold fashion choices, gender, wealth, and more.

The shoe will continue to progress with groundbreaking advancements, those of which we can only marvel at when we consider the technology now available to make these changes a reality.


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