Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The SANDAL originated with cavemen who tied animal hide or bark to the soles of their feet for protection. An inventive use of nature, to be sure...

It has been written, variously, that more than any item in the male wardrobe, a man's shoes express his vanity at its most indulgent. Though this theory has been put forth in the last half century, it is not an entirely new idea; in fact, ancient history would seem to back it up: wall paintings derived from the earliest civilizations of Egypt and Mesopotamia dated to 3500 BC depicts an Egyptian king being followed by his servant who carries the royal sandals. The Egyptians also had an odd propensity toward painting pictures of their enemies inside of their soles so as to "tread" on them, figuratively as well as literally.

The treasures of King Tut, a lad indulged if ever there was one, included sandals decorated with pictures of the Nile. In ancient Greece, footwear was the sign of a freeman. To walk barefoot was a dead giveaway you were a slave.

That a good-looking pair of well made shoes (or sandals, as it were, in ancient times) have been an earmark of gentility since time began is inarguable. But vanity, indulgence and gentility had little to do with the invention of the shoe, which actually began, in its earliest manifestation, as a sandal. Rather, the shoe was born of primitive man's persistent and life-long goal of improving upon nature.

It didn't take a genius to understand that the sole of the human foot was hardly built for walking along jagged rocks, in murky swamps or on hard, hot, dusty ground. Throughout the Stone Age, man, a creature who was nothing if not resourceful, understood that his soles were relatively soft and ill-equipped for negotiating the elements underfoot.

Not so for the animals man hunted and eventually domesticated, such as goats, sheep and mules. Just as he took their fur and skin for clothing and tools, so too must he have looked enviously at the tough, protective hoofs nature provided them. Using a layer of animal hide or bark between the soles of his feet and the ground, he secured them with a cord tied around the instep and the ankle.

Thus was born the sandal, the progenitor of all footwear as we know it today. The high top Converse All Stars would come a bit later.


  1. I love sandals and have a huge collection.

    Check out the latest Born sandals, which I ordered through Its really comfy.

  2. Keep walking the walk, Nicole. :-)