Summer has finally arrived with it’s inevitable change in temperature, and for those who live in warmer climates, the sandal will undoubtedly be the practically exclusive form of footwear for the next few months. Even in colder cities, any self-respecting follower of fashion will brave blue toes in order to adorn their feet with the latest beautiful pair.
Sandals have been around for a very long time with little change to the design other than the materials used. In fact, they are the oldest form of footwear in existence. The earliest pair were found in a cave in Oregon, and carbon dating has indicated they are at least 10,000 years old.
Although we tend to associate sandals with Roman times, they have been around a lot longer. Historians have found evidence of sandals being worn as far back as 40,000 years ago. Ancient Egyptians were big fans of sandals, and they were used to show a distinction between the wealthy and the poor.
The basic design was the same – a sole with a thong in the form of a Y in which to separate the big toe and keep the sandal in place – but the upper class had sandals made of leather, while the lower class made theirs with papyrus leaves.
Similar to today’s fashions, upper class Egyptian women also decorated their sandals with jewels and precious stones. It was not until the 1800’s, when rubber soles were patented for shoes and mass production was in place, that sandals became an affordable and comfortable form of footwear for all.
Basic though they might seem, sandals are not without their controversy. There seems to be no greater fashion faux pas than the awful pairing of socks and sandals.
Although sandals have never gone out of fashion, they enjoyed a recent revival on the runways thanks to the return of the gladiator sandal. The sandals inspired by Ancient Greece and Rome that had faded away after a popular return in the 80’s were brought back to the fashion spotlight. Mainly pioneered by designers such as Alexander McQueen, they have now become essential to any Spring/Summer collection. In a fresh twist to the style, we have seen the rise of heeled sandals, knee high sandals and tie-up sandals for men.
Gladiator sandals have remained in this year’s collections, working their way down to various high street lines. Although more toned down than last year’s gravity-defying pieces, we’re seeing more tribal inspired designs.
Hot picks for this year include Alexander McQueen’s crystal heel sandals adorned with Swarovski crystals, Nine West’s peep toe sandals, Kate Moss’s gladiator sandals for Topshop, and Balenciaga’s gorgeous gladiator wedge sandals, as well as their statement gladiator sandals with studs.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for the humble sandal, but there doesn’t seem to be any indication that they’ll be leaving our feet anytime soon.
Images courtesy of the Fashion Spot forums.