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Article: History of Sandals

History of Sandals

A sandal consists of a sole and a strap that holds the sole to the foot. Among their materials are leather, plastic, straw, rope, metal, and old tires.

Sandals are well suited to hot, dry climates and rocky terrains because they protect the feet from venomous insects, stones, and scorching sand. Besides keeping the feet cool, they also keep them aired out.

In their most basic form, sandals consist of straps connecting the sole to the foot. Street vendors in Bombay sell utilitarian sandals for a few rupees, and Manolo Blahnik sells high-end sandals for several hundred dollars. Wood, leather, textiles, straw, metal, and even stone have been used to make sandals in almost every society in the world, and they have adorned almost every echelon of society.

Wearing fabric socks called tabi with wooden-soled sandals called geta keeps out wetness and winter chill. Fur boots were originally tied over fur stockings by the natives of Eastern Siberia and Alaska. There was a time in history when fur stockings were sewed to the soles of sandals, creating a boot, but the sandals' straps remained tied around the ankles.

Sandals are most commonly found amongst the peoples of hot climates where searing sands and rocky landscapes, inhabited by poisonous insects and thorny plants, necessitated the development of the most basic form of foot covering. Hot, dry climates generally precluded the use of a closed shoe or boot, something that would develop in colder, wetter climates. However, historically, sandals are not found exclusively among the people of hot climates.

Most sandals made for the global market of the early 2000s are usually manufactured of synthetic or recycled materials, such as tires, some indigenous materials are still employed for the local markets. In India, water buffalo hide is commonly used for making sandals or chap-pli used for the Indian marketplace. Metal and wood have also been used in India to produce paduka or footwear, the traditional toe-knob sandals of the Hindu: the soles were often stilted, limiting the surface area of the earth trod, protecting the tiniest and humblest of life forms. Similar stilted wooden-soled sandals can be found in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and as far west as Syria and Turkey, although the knobs are replaced with straps ranging from embroidered fabric to simple twisted fiber loops. Syrian wooden sandals, often inlaid with silver wire and mother-of-pearl, were dubbed kab-kabs after the sound they make when being walked in. Although the use of these styles is not influenced by Hinduism, their origins were most assuredly from the Hindu toe-knob sandal.

The Fashion Sandal

Fashionable women brought back the sandal after the 1789 Revolution, along with classically draped garments. Closed shoes, similar to ballerina slippers, became fashionable in the 1810s, with crisscrossed silk ankle ties. Though the toes were not exposed, and technically the style was not a sandal, the long ties did suggest a classical association, and the shoes were frequently referred to as "sandal-slippers" in period literature.

Bathing sandals and boots gradually exposed more of the ankle and instep at the beach in the early twentieth century. It was common for women to wear beach pajamas when they were at the beach or by the pool during the late 1920s. Pantsuits with loose-fitting pants were worn with low-heeled sandals made of leather or cotton straps. For long nights of fox-trots and rumbas, high-heeled leather and silk sandals were a short jump from poolside to the dance floor in the early 1930s. Fashionable sandals were a necessary addition to a fashionable shoe wardrobe by the late 1930s, and they were available in a wide range of styles and colors.

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