We think of sandals as the key summer staple, but they actually come from a super rich history, with an extremely established lineage. The first recorded sandal is thought to be ten thousand years old - that’s a lot of evolution time for these footwear styles! Whilst originally they were purely practical, crafted in countries with hot climates in search of shoes to help them cross terrain in a breathable fashion, they are now available in an array of styles to suit every type of situation. We’re delving into everything you need to know about sandals…
The Very Beginning
The first sandal discovered was found in the caves of Oregon. They are estimated to be around 10,000 years old and would have belonged to the cavemen of those times. From there we can fast-forward to any region that is known to have the word ‘ancient’ ahead of it and we can find the startings of sandal evolution. The ancient Egyptians fashioned their sandals from palm-tree leaves and papyrus, with their priests donning them for status. The ancient Greek wore theirs around the home and featured more straps so they were more secure, usually made from leather. (These went on to influence the gladiator sandals of today.) Their soles were cattle skin.
Ancient Rome would carve their sandals with intricate designs for a fashionable feel, whilst the ancient Levant sandals were made from leather and dry grass, with rope and beading for decoration. These nations established the beginnings of today’s fashion sandals.
In the 1920s sandals were still primarily practical, with ladies wearing them for days at the beach. In the 1930s things started to take a more fashionable turn, with heels being added for hitting the dancefloor sweat-free. Around this time, designers began experimenting with open shoes and new sandal styles such as espadrilles and slingbacks began to emerge. It was the 60s when flip-flops arrived - imagine a world without flip-flops?! Brazilian Havianas became a cultural staple.
The Making of
The soles of sandals are usually made from rubber or leather for good tread and grip. A strip will then hold in the food around the toes, and this can be made from laces and fabrics or leather. Today it’s common to find heeled sandals, with anything from a block to a stiletto heel.
Types of Sandal
Originally the fisherman sandal, the t-bar sandal was made for men. They usually feature leather bands and buckles for security, and this style was originally from France.
The iconic flip-flop silhouette was made with the purpose of being cheap to produce and suitable for water-side locations. Locker rooms, poolsides and beaches were where you could expect to find them, and they are usually rubber for easy cleaning.
The Grecian Sandal
The Greek sandal is usually flat soled and has various interlapping straps across the toes, fastening at the ankle. It’s also known as the gladiator sandal, and in today’s fashion it can often fasten all the way up the leg, ending around the calves.
Another practical choice, sandals designed for treks are usually found in tropical climates. Made with rubber soles for a long-lasting finish and then paired with a foam insole for comfortably moulding around the wearers natural foot shape. Straps are likely to be nylon to dry quickly in case of a rainstorm. These are often worn for sports such as rafting as well.
An icon of the 90s, jelly shoes were inspired by fisherman sandals and recreated in PVC plastic - sometimes with glitter! These come in an array of fun colours, and are largely fashion-based.