Shoes of the World
100 shoes from around the globe and their (sometimes crazy) styles!Explore
We're always looking to be inspired by new and interesting footwear creations. You’ll often find us in front of the screen, coffee in hand researching the latest and greatest footwear from around the world.
In our travels, we've come across some wacky and interesting shoe styles that we thought we would share with you. Some are a bit crazy or not wearable, but they have a rich history and we thought you'd like to see it. We've organised them by continent to make them easy to find. So have fun exploring out 100 shoes of the globe.
Japan - Pair Of Geta
The Japanese have a talent for taking a classic piece of footwear and re-making it into a trendy new design. For example, imagine what a combination of thongs, clogs and high heels would create - Wonder no longer, it’s a pair of Japanese Getas.
The traditional “geta” is a velvet and lacquer pair of shoes, commonly used by ‘women of the night’. The the heel meant women could shuffle and rather then drag their feet across the floor.
The extra height on the shoe also meant the Geta could also worn in rain or snow to keep feet dry. Not a bad idea.
Uzbekistan - Kavush
Let’s travel to Uzbekistan where a popular footwear for men was the Kavush shoe - a form of footwear with high heels and a twisted nose. The shoes were golden yellow or brown in colour and were fully embroidered using silk threads.
So who were the Kavush shoes traditionally made for? These shoes took a lot of time and effort to make so they were for people with money. The detail and the embroidery means they’re delicate and not suitable for farm or other labour work. They were also quite costly to make and for these reasons, the shoes were available only for wealthy young men.
East Asia - Baekhwa (White Mourning Shoes)
We couldn’t pinpoint the exact country of these shoes but the story of how they originated comes from East Asia. Unfortunately not all shoes have a happy story.
Imagine you were a scholar or a military officer living in the Joseon Dynasty and were attending a funeral (warned you it wasn’t a happy story). The Baekhwa shoes would be the footwear you wore to the funeral.
The shoes were made of white leather or white cloth with long necks. The design and materials made them quite comfortable to wear. Besides the sad backstory, these shoes look like a pretty good addition for a historical shoe collection.
East- Asia Taesahye
Who ever said ballet flats are only for girls? Well, maybe one or two people have actually said it, but go back a few years to Eastern Asia (we can’t pinpoint the exact country) and you will find Taesahye shoes. Also known as, leather shoes for men.
The Taesahye were traditionally worn by Joseon noblemen and were covered with leather. They also had striped carving designs on the toes and heels.
So gents, if you’re looking for a ballet flat? Give this one a go. And ladies, if you want to give them a try then there’s no one stopping you, I mean let’s face it. There are so many styles of ballet flats that we need to give them all a try!
East-Asia - Jinsin
Looks like the world has travelled quite far in rain shoes. At the end of the day it all comes down to testing. What works and what doesn’t. The Jinsin were essentially leather rain boots. We couldn’t find the exact country of origin but we know they came from in East Asia. and were made using oiled leather for waterproofing and had a hard sole on the inside of the shoe to prevent mud and dirt from getting into the shoe. The shoes ensured people didn’t get sick from walking around with wet soggy shoes.
Japan - The Ballet Boot
What do you think of when someone says ballet? We think, pink leotards, the 90’s hit movie Centre Stage, and dancing (of course). These shoes are nothing like actual ballet shoes. They were created by the Japanese as a contemporary style of footwear. After being popular in Japan for a few years in the 1980s the shoe began gaining recognition all over the world.
The boots resemble a stiletto. The purpose of the shoe is to give the illusion of a long pointed toe. However, by the look of the heel, it’s probably more suitable to be a fashion accessory rather than everyday footwear.
Japan - Jika-tabi boots
In 1943, when the Japanese landed in New Guinea, they were equipped with armoured tanks and boots, known as Jika-Tabis. You can probably see a split in the ‘toe’ area of the shoe. The parting is made to separate the big toe from the rest. A bit like a pair of thongs, the have a rubber-sole, are lightweight and have a durable grip.
These days, the shoes are known as “Ninja Boots.” They’re something worn in action or (fighting) movies, on running tracks and they’ve even made an appearance on the catwalk! Watch this video of an American guy balancing on a rope with Tabi Boots.
Japan - Okobo
Short ladies, we’ve found the perfect casual shoe for you. Say goodbye heels so high that you can barely walk in them and say hello to Okobo - a traditional wooden sandal worn by Japanese Maiko people.
The wooden sandal is made from a block of willow wood. The wood is sometimes finished with a natural lacquer, but usually it’s just kept as is.
During Summer, the Maiko people wear straps on their shoes to represent their status. Red straps mean there is a new Maiko member and yellow straps are worn by those who have completed their apprenticeship. Watch this video for more historical facts and uses of the shoe.
South Asia - Gold Mojari
The Mojari (also known as Khussa and Saleem Shahi’s) is an elegant style of handcrafted footwear. Perfect for people who love a shoe with plenty of detail.
The shoe was originally produced in South Asia and is traditionally made using tanned leather. The top, upper-part of the shoe includes textile embroidery and a feature embellishment. If you look closely, you’ll notice the bonding from the upper sole of the shoe is sewn using a cotton thread and leather fibers. Here’s a video of different Mojari designs. Which one is your favourite?
During Summer, the Maiko people wear straps on their shoes to represent their status. Red straps mean there is a new Maiko member and yellow straps are worn by those who have completed their apprenticeship. Watch this video for more historical facts and uses of the shoe.
Turkey - Bath Clogs
Have you ever used a public shower where you wore thongs or flip flops so you wouldn’t have to touch the bacteria on the shower floor? Yes? Well, the Turkish took the concept one step further and invented the bathing clog.
The bathing clog is a special type of wooden footwear worn by both men, women and children during traditional Turkish bathing, ceremonies and rituals. The high heels protected feet from the dirty ground water. However, the shoe was also used for general bathing purposes.
India - Padukas
Forget contemporary high heels, sneakers and fashion shoes, Padukas are in the house! The ancient Indian footwear is one of the oldest shoe-types known to people. Their existence dates all the way back to ancient mythological times.
Padukas are traditionally made of wood, silver and gold, and include a hard sole with a knob. The purpose of the knob is to separate the big toe from the second toe. To wear the shoe, the wearer would grip their knob between his or her toes. Think of it like wearing a pair of thongs (minus the straps). Sounds like a very awkward and tiring experience. Would you give the shoes a try?
China - Lotus Shoe
The traditional Golden Chinese Lotus shoes look beautiful and the shape of the shoe replicated a lotus flower. To get them fitted is a painful experience.
To wear the shoe, women have to go through foot binding - A process that rolls their toes behind the sole of the foot. Some of the lotus shoes are only three-inches in length!
The shoes have sharp and pointy ends and bent soles in the shape of a bow. The outer-side of the shoe is covered with embroidery and exquisite patterns.
China - Kung Fu Shoe
Have you ever tried martial arts? In China, when practising the ancient style of Kung-fu, ‘Tai Chi,’ or ‘martial arts’ people would wear a cloth slip-on shoe to give them a better grip.
The footwear is quite cheaply produced and typically consists of a black outer cloth, soft white patterned outer sole with multiple layers of stitching to older the inner sole and a hard brown plastic sole.
Today, the Kung-fu style shoe are replicated and mass-produced all across the world. You just have to look out on the street to see the popular ‘canvas-style’ shoe. Instead of a plastic sole, manufactures use a cotton or rubber sole for added comfort.
Japan - Pigeon Shoes
Calling all bird lovers. Boy do I have a shoe ready to show you. Japanese designer, Kyoto Ohata created an interesting pair of ‘Pigeon heels’. I actually had to take a second look to make sure I was seeing right.
Only time will tell who creates the next ‘bird,’ look. But by the way it’s going, I feel like this is only the beginning of the ‘bird-frenzy’.
Philippines - Polyposis
Isn’t it wonderful how creative a person can be? Take designer Kermit Tesoro from the Philippines, who created one of the weirdest shoes we’ve ever seen, also known as, Octopus shoes.
It doesn’t take much to assume Kermit was inspired by an octopus, marine life or physics when creating this design. You can tell by the design that every element is there for a reason. From the way the shoe of the foot is positioned to the colour and pattern.
As for wearing the shoes? Not sure if it’s wearable art or more a fashion statement.
Thailand - Fish Shoes
Would you place your foot inside these fish shoes?
These shoes are a play on the original ‘fishing shoes,’ and are made for both genders. Wear them at the beach and watch as people turn their heads to see if you’re stepping on a fish.
The shoes are made from ultra-light and fine fibers. The soles use EVA material and the soft slipper part of the shoe helps protect your feet.
Interested in a pair? They’re waterproof, easy to clean, non-slip and have elastic and shockproof features. That’s pretty good for a fish shoe!
Iran - Cavalry Shoes
Did you know that high heels were originally designed as a practical way to improve the art of war? Yep. Men needed to find a way to stay up on their horses while battling out during the war. And so, the Cavalry heels were born.
The shoes have hardened soles and small curved heels to help hook the shoe into a stirrup and keep the rider on his horse.
Egypt - Golden Sandals
Back in Ancient Egyptian days, people most walked around barefoot or wore sandals made of woven rushes.
As for the wealthy, or ‘god-kings,’ they wore sandals made of gold - because how else can you show everyone else your wealthy?
These golden sandals contained toe covers to not only generally protect the big toe, but were also believed to protect the toe from harm in the afterlife. Although, the toe cover to protect from ‘evil spirits’ may seem a bit weird in today’s society, back in the day it was quite the norm, with The Pharaoh Tutankhamen having 93 pairs of footwear discovered in his tomb!
Thailand - Siamese Slippers
Looking for a unique pair of flats? We have found just the right pair for you. These cute Siamese slippers originate from Thailand. The detail on the shoes is incredible. The slippers have silver embroideries on green velvet and on red leather.
Just a fun fact about these particular pair of shoes. The slippers were bought on December 18th, 1957 from antiques salesman in Copenhagen. But, they originated from Carl Idor Andreas Zieler, an Engineer from Siam, Thailand. It’s likely the slippers belonged to Carl’s mother, a painter.
Moral of the story? Each shoe has been on its own journey. If your shoes survived the next century, what story would people be saying about where the shoes have been?
Iran - Galesh
Ready to make a statement? If you were wearing Iran Galesh shoes out to a party then boy would you have a story to tell. The colours, the pon-pons, even the weaving and stitching has its own place.
Unlike most galoshes, the “galesh” is always handwoven. Imagine the amount of time it would take to complete all the weaving! But, for the people in Persia, the time and effort that went into making the shoes was well worth it.
Want a pair? You’re in luck, the Galesh is still made today but you’ll have to visit northern Iran to get the the real thing.
Korea - Namaksin
Namaksins. Also known as rain shoes.
They’re quite an interesting pair of rain shoes. There are two types of wooden rain shoes. One has a heel and the other doesn’t. The Namaksin’s with a heel is worn on rainy days whereas the shoes without a heel are worn when it’s dry. The things you learn!
As for a little history. Don’t worry if you ever forget the name of the shoes, Namaksin. They actually go by a few other names including Mokyeokji, Mokyeok or Namu-sin.
Korea - Jipsin
Straw-style shoes seem to regularly come in and out of fashion and have been adapted by many cultures. These interesting-looking sandals are actually entirely made of straw, hence their nickname, straw shoes. They are originally from Korea and were worn since ancient times, that being the Joseon period. As for who worn the shoes, the Jipsin’s were worn mostly by commoners, farmers and scholars.
Vietnam - Dép lốp (Rubber Tire Sandals)
Have you ever had some spare time of your hands and decided to make something out of plain, simple or raw materials? Maybe you created something quite practical and now use it in everyday life. Today, many designs and inventions come about from taking one’s imagination and using simple materials to construct a simple prototype design.
Take the traditional Dép lốp as an example. The sandals were made in Vietnam from recycled rubber tires. Talk about inventive. Have these shoes inspired your creativity?
Philippines - Bakya
If you’re after a unique pair of wooden shoes then give the Philippines Bakyas a try. They are wooden clogs are made from local light Philippine wood, (usually Santol or Laniti).
The heels are custom made and cut for the desired foot size. They’re shaped and then shaven until smooth enough to wear. In the heel section of the shoe, you’ll often find floral, geometric or even landscape designs.
Once the base design is complete, the shoes are painted or varnished and the fabric decoration on the top of the shoe is fastened using tiny nails. And then they’re ready for wearing!
Iran - Giveh
Givehs are a popular traditional Iran footwear. They are usually made using carpet yarn, leather and other raw materials. The shoes are typically white and contain many tiny pores that prevent feet from getting sweaty. Formerly, the shoes were worn by men, but in contemporary society, they’re accepted to be worn by both males and females.
The Giveh shoe making process covers a range of steps and is divided by women’s and men’s role. The first few steps are traditionally completed by women. These include making the shoe vamp and sewing the different parts of the shoe together using a large needle. The shoe is then passed onto the male who crafts the sole, assembles the different shoe parts together and creates the final product.
India - Jutti
The Jutti shoe is a common type of North Indian footwear made of leather and extensive embroidery. If you look closely at the shoe, you’ll see the stitching is usually made of real gold and silver thread! You’ll also notice the shoe has a ‘nokh’, or a curved tip. This is a special design feature on the masculine version of the shoe.
But why are Juttis so expensive? The shoes were inspired by India royalty from over 400 years ago. Now, the shoes have adapted into modern society. The main difference is now the shoes are made with rubber soles. However, even with the modern design changes, the shoes have remained to be ceremonial attire, particularly for events such as weddings.
Japan - Atsuzoku (Platform Boots)
Platform boots have come and go into fashion for many years but how do you feel about a heel that’s about the size of your head?
Let’s take a look back in history. Platform shoes date back to medieval European Chopines but they really gained popularity in the ‘60s where everyone wore platform shoes. It was the American music scene that truly helped the boots go global.
And what about the ‘90s when Japan was the trendsetter for platform boots? In this decade, the shoes were worn by popstars which brought back the trend again.
Any ideas when platform boots will float back into fashion again?
Israel - Miao
At first, when we saw this design, we thought it was a dog. To us, it looked like a dog getting ready to leap onto a ball while playing around in a backyard. Were we right?
The design is actually of a cat. And you know what? It doesn’t even bother us. Because that’s art. And that’s what truly makes a design unique. When you can interpret it to be anything you want it to be. And who is the mastermind behind this unique design? Israeli designer, Kobi Levi. The shoe was inspired by a cat’s movement while stretching its limbs.
Egypt - Flip Flops
Back in the olden days, shoes were seen as an unnecessary expense. As for the lucky ones, they wore Flip Flops, Flip Flops date all the way back to Ancient Egypt times where they were made from weaving straw or reeds together to create a sandal-style shoe.
Today, Flip Flops (or as us Aussies like to call them, thongs) are one of the world’s most commonly worn forms of footwear. In countries like Australia and places like the US, the most popular type of thong is made from a rubber insole. But don’t let this stop you from trying the original form of footwear.
United States - Boot Sandals
We have all seen the standard cowboy boot. In fact, most of us probably own one (or an alternation of one). But the traditional design wasn’t good enough for Scotty Franklin, owner of Redneck Boot Sandals in Missouri. He took it upon himself to create a unique and well let’s face it, weird, Western-themed option.
What inspired the design? Apparently being stuck on the beach! One day, Scotty was walking along the beach when he saw a men wearing a pair of cowboy boots, sweaty like crazy. Then Scotty looked at his own sandals and thought about how the two shoe designs would look together. And voila! You have it the Cowboy boot (boot and sandal inspired).
United States - T-Rex "Jurassic Pump" Dinosaur Spike Heels
Do you have a serious love for dinosaurs and all things T-Rex related? Maybe you need the perfect shoes to go with your dinosaur dress-up outfit. If the answer is yes to any of the above then you’ll love these ZombiePeepshow Jurassic Pump platform dinosaur heels that are handmade, painted and textured.
The heels are completely custom made, each having a different sized-spikes and you can even choose a different colour if you’d like! No shoe is the same so you know you can really stand out from the crowd. We certainly wouldn’t mind walking around in a pair of these unique pair of heels.
United States - Vibram Five Fingers
We’re still trying to wrap our heads around toe shoes. These toe shoes were created by Marco Bramani and Robert Fliri. The brand, Vibram was quick to jump on the concept. The designers discovered their invention, the VibramFiveFingers were the unique solution to the knee pain and soreness. Shortly after launching the shoe, the Vibram team quickly rebranded to target the shoes at runners, fitness fanatics and people who enjoy outdoor sports.
Canada - Moccasins
Moccasin’s are quite famous for being worn by indigenous Americans and early American pioneers. Although the shoes look like they contain a lot of intricate detail, they are actually quite a simple shoe made out of a single piece of leather that’s stitched together. Some moccasins are plain, without any patterns or designs. Others are decorated with creative techniques and patterns such as the shoes shown above.
The shoes have been world for thousands of years and have continued to make their way into modern society. It will be interesting to see how the patterns on the shoes develop as fashion changes.
United States - Grass Flip Flops
Grass flip flops are more than just your average sandals, they’re made using synthetic grass bonded to a pain old flip flop shoe.
If you look close up, the flip flops resemble real-grass. Almost as if you’re stepping on the real thing! A perfect gift idea for yourself or a significant other.
In the United States, people rock the sandals out at the beach, in the park or anywhere in between.
United States - Crocs
Over the years we’ve seen a few styles of Crocs. But here, we’re going to talk about the Crocs we love to hate. The rubber crocs.
Originally, the beloved Crocs were a niche style of shoe, aimed at those looking for a comfy, non-clip alternative type of shoe. One that has aerating holes, a chunky look and non-plastic formula, making them vegan friendly.
Today, Crocs have continued to gain popularity world-wide. It will be interesting to see how the Crocs evolve in the next few years. Will they continue to gain popularity? Or will they become a past phase? What do you think?
United States - Cowboy Boots
We’ve all been to at least one ‘cowboy-themed’ party in our lives. The cowboy boots, hats and checkered tops are all part of the fun. But the history of cowboy boots dates back all the way to mid-to-late 1800s where the shoes were worn to help herd cattle on farm.
Flashback to the Civil War where land was cheap and there was cattle, lots and lots of cattle. Being around these animals and moving them to a different location required specific footwear and the cowboy boot just so happened to fit the criteria.
After the ranch workers (or cowboys) made their money, they would take their earnings and head into town to buy a new pair of boots to celebrate safely moving their herd to the new location.
United States - Converse All Star “Chuck Taylor” Basketball Shoe
In 1908 the Converse Rubber Corporation opened its doors. At first, the firm created galoshes and on special occasions would release work-related rubber shoes. Fast forward a few more years and the company discovered a market for athletic shoes and with the gaining popularity of basketball, they saw a huge opportunity to develop a ‘basketball-style’ shoe.
In 1917, the very first All Star basketball shoe was born. It contained a thick rubber sole and an ankle covering canvas. At first, shoe sales were quite slow, but after just a few years and a bit of publicity, the shoes are well known across the whole globe.
USA - Air Jordans
Want to be noticed? Wear a pair of Air Jordans. The Original Air Jordan was originally released in 1988 and since then has gained great popularity. The shoe was made using durable and lightweight material, with a featured “elephant print”. A few years passed and the shoe was still in high demand. Since the first launch, the shoe has been re-released several times. Move forward to 2018 and the Air Jordan’s aren’t going anywhere.
Canada - Canadian Kamik Boot
Canadians have a special connection with the great outdoors - they love adventure. So it goes without say that the Canadians had to create a special type of shoe to be able to tackle all types of weather. Introducing the Kamik boot (or Mukluks). Just a little fun fact, the word, “mukluk means ‘bearded seal,’ while “kamik” is an Eskimo word.
Now for the second fun fact, the Kamik’s inner boot liner is traditionally made of reindeer skin or seals skin.
Mexico - Huaraches
Did you know the Mexican name for sandals is “huaraches”? Huaraches are typically made of leather soles with the leather straps being hand-woven and braided to produce a particular pattern (like in the image). Traditionally, the sandals were worn by people who lived on the countryside or on farming land.
In the 1960s the shoes began gaining popularity as more people started adopting the ‘hippie’ lifestyle. By the end of the 20th century, Huaraches were worn by people all over North and South America. Today, we see adaptations of the shoes all over the world and I can see why. They look pretty comfy and would be perfect with a pair of shorts & a tee in summer!
United States - Meat Shoes
Lady Gaga always brings a new perspective on clothes and shoes. Flashback to a few years ago and for the first time, the world was exposed Lady Gaga’s meat shoes and dress outfit during the 2010 MTV Music Awards. Who co-created the unique and almost cringeworthy design? Francisco Fernandez and Nicola Formichetti.
Some people loved the concept, others hated the idea of meat-shoes. But there was one thing in common - everyone was talking. The meat-shoes played a huge influence on fashion that year inspiring halloween designs as well as recreating the outfit in response to help local butchers grow in business.
United States - Chewing Gum
We’ve all experienced the stepping in gum at least once in our lives. It begins with feeling like you’re stuck to the ground, so you lift your heel and try to tug your shoe off the ground - hoping it will free itself. When you finally come unstuck you keep moving like nothing happen, hoping to avoid any embarrassment.
Kobi Levi took the classic, “I stepped-in-gum” moment and turned it into a fashionable sneaker-high heel shoe. Levi’s design represents the tension a person feels while they are stretched by the piece of chewing gum.
Jamaica - Wompers
There was a time when only wealthy Caymanians could afford to purchase footwear. Those who didn’t have much money were left to only wear their nice shoes to special occasions such as going to church or weddings. However, people still needed shoes to protect their feet and so, the Caymanians created their own footwear - known as the Wompers.
The Womper is simply made from an old car tire cut to fit the foot and thatch rope to create the straps. If you have some spare time on your hand then have a go at designing this shoe and send us a photo of your creation.
Cuba - Cuban Heels
Men also enjoy having a little fun in heels. History shows “cuban heels” date back to the 9th century. Cuba is part of the the Caribbean Sea When first made, the cuban heel was often worn by horsemen. Forward to the 1600s and the shoe was considered an “elite” male style of footwear. Fast forward to 1980s and the cuban heels became widely accepted by both men and women.
These days Cuban heels have continuously come in and out of fashion. But one thing is for sure, they’re the perfect type of “latin” heel. So make sure to grab yourself a pair of Cuban Heels if you’re ready for some cha-cha, samba or rumba!
Argentina - Alpargatas
Let’s take a moment to travel to Argentina in 1883. What type of shoes are we likely to find? If we take a quick look into our historical shoe directory, I would say Argentine Alpargata-style shoes were a popular staple at the time. Similar to the Spanish Espadrilles, these shoes were traditionally made in black or white, were simple, reasonably priced and became an everyday shoe for Argentina.
So what’s the story about the shoes today? In 2008, Alpargatas became pretty popular in Buenos Aires as well as other cities.
Peru - Rigel
Looking for a unique, fun, floral pair of shoes? Check out this lovely looking pair of Rigel floral heels from Peru. They contain intricate detail, crafty features, a delicate ankle strap and have a floral cross-stitched embroidery that gives the shoe a wow factor.
At the same time, the heels are definitely on the unusual side too. The colour and design is enough to get a few eyes looking - but in a good, unique and interested way. Trying to make out the patterns and details on the shoe is all part of the fun. They could definitely be paired with a summer-time dress!
Ecuador - Ecuadorian Shoes
Aren’t these a unique set of shoes? Since their origin, the traditional Ecuadorian shoes originated have achieved global popularity. They actually look pretty comfy to slip on and walk around the house in.
The traditional shoe sole is made from agave fiber and the woven top is made of cotton. At the front of the shoe, the peephole area for the toes to slightly stick out of.
The shoes are traditionally worn by men in the highlands, but now they can be worn by any gender.
Amsterdam - The Clog
You can’t have a list of crazy shoes without admiring the Dutch clog. Traditional Dutch clogs first appeared around 1230. They are made from a chunk of wood, often intricately painted or designed to make them stand out. Their creation is surely a work of art, with the clog-maker refining the clog into a custom-sized shoe for farmers, peasants and tourists alike.
Today, clogs have continued to grow in popularity. The shoes are accepted all over the world and not just by peasants and farmers. Could you see yourself strutting the streets in a pair of Dutch clogs? How does bright yellow sound?
Finland - Plaited Birch Shoes
Finland’s plaited birch shoes are made from… you guessed it – plaited fibres of the birch trees. Finnish peasants wore them as they were cheap to make and easy to replace. The shoes were most commonly worn in the early part of the 20th century by women, who would wrap their feet in cloth before adorning the shoe. But be warned. The shoes weren’t made to be durable. In fact, the average lifespan of the shoe is roughly one week, so they were incredibly fragile.
Poland - Poulaine
Poulaine or Crackowes are leather shoes with a ridiculously long, pointed toes. These shoes were fashionable in the 14th and 15th century, and were worn by young men. The toe part of the shoe could be as long as 24 inches. The shoes were a controversial fashion and faced criticism for many years. Why? Poland is a highly religious country and wearing the long, pointed shoes made it impossible kneel down and pray. Eventually Poland’s laws were actually changed in England to curtail the length of toe based on class!
Italy - Chopines
Italian Chopines (or zoccoli) are a Venetian shoe, designed in Venice and worn by men and women alike from 1400-1700 AD. The height of the platform was relative to their social standing - some platforms could get up to as high as 20 inches and were decorated with intricate designs. Often, you wouldn’t even be able to tell that someone was wearing the shoe as most people wore the shoes along with a long dresses.
Want to learn another fun fact? Wearers of the chopine often required servants or canes to help them walk as it was near impossible to walk unassisted! That’s a lot of effort for a shoe that’s usually covered by a dress.
The first Swedish clog appeared in 1907 in a small factory in the town Troentorp. August Johansson was the mastermind behind the factory. He spent eight years learning the traditional clog-making trade before opening the factory. As the clogs gained popularity all over Sweden, August passed the factory to his two sons.
Even today, the clogs are still made using nails, wet lasting and the original soles first designed back in 1907.
As for the rest of the world, clogs have taken over the world with different countries putting their own spin on the shoe. Clogs are now be made from other types of wood and materials.
Ireland - Pampootie
Possibly the cutest name for a shoe ever - the Pampootie. But don’t be deceived by the name. The shoe is actually, well, pretty weird and ugly. The pampootie is a raw-hide shoe.
The hide is folded around the foot and stitched with twine or leather. Where do they come from? Ireland. The shoes are an early form of the Scottish Ghillie. This you’ve seen them before? Pampootie are similar in appearance to American moccasins. Which do you prefer?
England - Doc Martens
Is there anything more characteristically British than the punky Doc Martens shoe? Originally designed as a supportive shoe to mend a broken foot, the Doc Martens have evolved with a cult following. The 1960’s saw the Doc Martens rise to fame, and they’ve been a favourite amongst youth culture ever since.
Today, Doc Martens are a staple for most teens and young adults. Next time you go to a music festival, check out the other festival go-ers footwear. You’re likely to see a fair few Doc Martens.
Spain - Espadrilles
Your favourite summer shoes have been around since the 14th century. These pretty, colourful little things originated from the beautiful shores of Spain. These shoes are made from natural fibre and often cotton or canvas for the upper. Yves Saint Laurent can be credited with making these classic Spanish shoes popular in the 1970’s. They are still being redesigned and used in modern fashion shows today - no surprise there. These shoes are the perfect piece of footwear to showcase new summer arrivals.
Russia - Valenki
The Valentki have definitely grabbed our attention. They look like an ugg boot, but also look like a slipper. It's unlikely the inventor of the modern ugg boot ever came across the Valenki's in their lifetime but you never know, maybe this is where the inspiration really came from.
Valenki are traditional Russian felt boots are designed for winter and said to have medicinal properties due to them being made from natural sheep wool felt. They are cross between a type of sock and slipper - they aren’t waterproof but are sturdier than traditional socks.
There is a specific process when making valenki - people have actually travelled to Russia just to learn how to make the felt for the popular valenki boots. Now that’s true dedication.
Greece - Tsarouchi
Did you know in 1821 Greece had a War of Independence? And the great shoe carrying them through this time of bravery was the humble Tsarouchi. The shoe features a very large pompom on the tip of the boot. The cute pompom symbolises, “the small tree of liberty and inside the tassel there is a blade that symbolises the kick that the brave man who wears it will give to every enemy who dares to hurt the little tree of liberty,” according to Greek Reporter, Philip Chrysopoulos.
Scotland - Ghillies
You can’t dance the Highland dance without a pair of ghillies on your feet! They have criss cross laces across the top of the foot, and are usually made using black, supple leather. The shoe is worn tightly across the foot.
Watch the youtube clip for bit of a laugh, a bit of a boogie. If anything, the clip will get you into the Scottish spirit and make you want to get a pair of Ghillies to try out for yourself.
Germany - Ice Cream Heels
Reminiscing the days you chased the ice-cream truck? Then check out these heels. They almost look good enough to eat.
Who is the mastermind behind this design? Karl Lagerfeld, a German creative director and photographer. The shoes were actually designed for the Melissa footwear label and resemble a person smashing their heel into an ice cream (well, a neaty formed ice cream).
France - Jelly Shoes
If you were an 80s kid then you would recognise these funky pair of jelly shoes! They were every kids best friend.
Okay, so they’re not your traditional type of French footwear, but did you know a French fisherman was responsible for the PVC shoe that was the favourite of all children in the 80’s and 90’s? The humble jelly shoes come in a huge range of colours, and can be styled in a bunch of different ways! Guess what? You can even grab a pair to this day - usually at major department stores.
Check out this stellar video on how to style jelly shoes (quick, before they go out of fashion again!)
Germany - Birkenstocks
Been to Europe recently? The Birkenstocks shoes are a favourite amongst tourists and avid travellers. They’re also known as “birks.” as they are fondly known are comfy, high quality, and somewhat fashionable. The German Birkenstocks sandals originally came into the spotlight in 1896, and have been growing in popularity ever since.
Why did such basic shoes gain world-wide popularity so quickly? The shoes were marketed as providing and promoting good health – everyone wants to live a long happy and healthy life.
France - Armadillo
During Paris Fashion Week on October 6, 2009 British Designer, Alexander McQueen, revealed his signature Armadillo shoes. The ‘post-human manifesto’ inspired shoe grabbed the attention of fashion bloggers all over the world.
Since their beginning, the Armadillo have been worn by celebrities all over the world including Lady Gaga in her music video, “Bad Romance.”
The 10-inch heels are definitely a show stopper. Would you wear them?
Italy - Invisible Shoe
Imagine wearing a shoe that you can’t actually see. These shoes aren’t completely invisible but they definitely give the right illusion. Andreia Chaves designed the heel. We think the unique design is perfect for anyone who likes to stand out and really get the crowd chatting. Andreia implemented all her knowledge of optimal effects and 3D printing to create this eye catching design.
The shoe is made in Italy, using crafting techniques, leather and an external 3D-printed nylon structure. We wouldn’t hesitate to give these pretty heels a whirl. They definitely tick all the boxes: unique, interesting and different.
England - Pop Art
Imaging rocking up to the cinema wearing these creative pair of heels. Although the popcorn is real food, unfortunately, they’re not edible (at least, eating them is highly unadvised) so make sure to buy a bucket of popcorn before going into the cinema.
So who is the creative designer behind these cute (and slightly weird) pair of heels? Let’s give it up for British designer Milly J!
Milly J creates all kinds of unconventional heels from her base in Hertfordshire. She put countless time and effort into each of her shoe designs to ensure they all tell a story.
So what makes these shoes truly unique? The pin up shoes contain custom production words (so you can create your own movie title if you want), are made of popcorn and are topped with a red kitsch bow.
England - Finsk Boots
What happens when you create a shoe. The heel falls off and you’re left with a heeless shoe? Is it still wearable? Well, turns out heeless shoes are actually a thing these days and yes people can wear them. So what’s different about this particular style of shoe.
Well firstly, it has a heel. But the heel looks slightly detached from the actual boot. Who is behind this unique design? Finnish shoe designer Julia Lundsten.
Julia designed the London Finsk Boot which is portrayed in a unique design, made to make you look twice. These particular boots have lace up above the ankles and also have a zipper at the back to make it simpler to slide your foot straight into them.
Ukraine - Lychaky
We’ve seen a variety of plaited boots, but here’s another one to add to the list. This time from Ukraine. In Ukraine, the Lychaky shoes were plaited from linden or birch bark. The shoes consisted of a braided sole, loops and a cord that was used to tie the shoe to the foot. You can see all the plaiting and weaving effort that goes into the shoe. Could be a fun project to try making a pair of Lychaky’s if you have some spare time on your hands.
The shoes were traditionally worn at home or for work. But unlike other shoes which were gender-specific, these were worn by all family members.
Ukraine - Postoly
By now, you’ve probably also realised many cultures have their own types of plaited footwear. For the Ukrainian, these shoes were called Postoly. These shoes were made of a single piece of thick but soft, cow or pigskin rawhide. As you can image, the shoes were made to withstand all weather climates. They were generally short-lived shoes. So if they weren’t suited for winter climates, how were they worn? In the colder months, people would wear the shoes with a thick rough woolen sock followed by a top sock. The top sock would be slightly damp and would freeze instantly creating effective thermo protection.
England - Mojito
Usually when the word Mojito comes about, you’ll probably think of the cocktail. In this case the Mojito is referring to London-based architect, Julian Hakes. Julian’s unique shoe design definitely captures the attention of others, including me.
The colour of the shoe is a deep cherry red and the actual design makes you really stop and think. It would be an interesting experience trying to walk in the heels. There is no support for the middle of the foot’s sole. Would you give them a try?
England - Exoskeleton
If you’re a fan of dinosaurs, bones, skeletons or just weird and unique things then you’ll love this shoe design.
The Exoskeleton shoe was designed by London based footwear designer, Janina Allen.
The detail in the shoe is enough to get your mind running wild. Take a close look at the heel. The point at the end looks sharp enough to really cause serious damage to anything it digs into (obviously this shoe is not wearable but instead a piece of art.
And the details of the Exoskeleton are so clear and intricate that you can see all the hours and effort Janina took into creating this design.
Estonia - Kanepi Womens Shoes
Look at these adorable shoes! They are so tiny, simple and remind us of ballet flats. From a distance the shoes look quite simple but when you look up close you will probably see all the tiny detail within them.
You can see the stitching on the front of the shoe and you can only imagine how long the weaving on the top of the shoe would take! A fair few holes were pierced into the leather, just to be able to slip the piece of string through.
England - The Nineties Winkelpicker
Have an upcoming job interview, a formal or another special event? Go back to a few years ago to 1996 and some British men brought back the old fashioned Winkelpicker. Why? Because that’s how trends work. One person wears something and then someone else copies and soon the trend catches on (or fades away). In the case of the Winkelpicker, the trend caught on.
This narrow, pointy style shoe was so prevalent among 20 year olds that they actually became an alternative to the classic derbies and oxfords.
Do you think Nineties Winkelpicker’s should be compared to the classics?
England - Alice in Wonderland Inspired Shoes
Do you ever dream of the days where you runaway to a different land and meet talking rabbits and other animals? Do you basically just want to feel like your Alice in Wonderland? Just for a day (even an hour will do). Well have a look at these unique heels created by London-based designer, Nicholas Kirkwood.
These creative shoes were made from the Alice in Wonderland phenomenon. And you can definitely see why they’ve got the world’s attention. The giant red rose, the checked heel, the leaves and all the extra elements create the ultimate Alice in Wonderland shoes. Perfect!.
England - Lego Stiletto
Do you enjoy putting your creative hat on? Do you also have a love for Lego? If the answer is yes to either of those things, then you will love this Lego-inspired design.
British designer Finn Stone showed off her pair of Lego stilettos at The Affordable Art Fair in London.
Are they actually wearable? Of course! If you look closely, you’ll actually see that under all that lego is a stiletto shoe. The lego is simply glued onto the shoe to keep in in place.
Have a pair of shoes that need to see a new light and have some spare Lego lying around? Then give the Lego-inspired look a try.
Netherlands - Homage to Egbert
It’s crazy how a simple shoe can turn into a unique and weird creation. Take the Homage to Egbert shoes for example. Who would have thought to add a staircase and small characters into the heel of a shoe. We would have never thought of such a unique design, that’s for sure! But Linda van Reenen had the creativity in her to create this intriguing the design. The best part? These shoes make you feel like a kid again. We wouldn't mind getting our hands on a pair just to get a close look at the characters and create different narratives about what the characters are saying to each other.
Belgium - High Tide Heels
Who ever said you can’t snorkel in style? Unfortunately these heels weren’t released commercially but we can dream. Imagine flipping your way through the waves while looking fabulous in your brightly coloured high tide heels. Might have some issues walking along the sand in the shoes, but hey, as long as you look great nothing else matters.
The mastermind behind the wearable limited edition design, Belgian artist Paul Schietekat. He created the High Tide Heel back in 2006 for an exhibition. The shoes are made from Polyester materials and were released in four different colours: orange, red, blue and black.
England - Faux Fur Claw Boots
Don’t worry, these shoes aren’t made from real animal fur. They’re usually made from foam, faux fur, boot, urethane and cotton. The fur is fake but the shoes definitely give off the real-werewolf vibe.
These boots would be a great addition to a dress up themed party. The paws are from from polyurethane rubber which helps with durability and enables them to be worn outside without having to worry about extensive damage.
You’ll also notice the foot shape is used by taking a pair of high-heeled boots and removing the heel, so you walk on your tiptoes in the boots. A scary, unique and fun design all in one! What more could you ask for?
France - Pompadour heel
Picture this, walking around in a French, Pompadour heel. Your teeth clenching every time you take a step because the curved heels are awfully difficult to walk in. Why put up with the pain? Because you’re wearing the Pompadour heel, was named after Madame de Pompadour, mistress to King Louis XV of course. The Pompadour heel were first popular in Paris before popularity caught on across Europe in the 18th century.
As for today, there are many uncomfortable shoes in the world so when you think about it, wearing a shoe is really down to ‘fashion’ no matter how weird or uncomfortable it is.
France - Stiletto
The classic Stiletto. Today, they’re basically a women’s best friend. Pair the heels with a little black dress to make any boring-looking outfit making it go from alright to wow.
So when did the shoes come about? Christian Dior brought back French style Stilettos after World War Two. The shoes were distinguished with their lifted, slender heels of incredible strength, making them more glamorous-looking.
How far has the Stiletto come? In modern society, many households have a pair of Stiletto lying around in their home. The modern shoe can have a heel even five inches high while narrowing at the base so we suggest taking a pair of flats with you just in case you can’t survive the whole evening in the shoes.
England - Cavalier Boots
Boots were highly fashionable during the seventeenth century when King Charles I reigned England. As an infant, Charles suffered osteomalacia (rickets) and wore callipers concealed in his boots to help him walk. As he grew up, he relied less on the callipers but chose to continue to wear boots. The cavalier boots are a versatile, tight-fitted shoe. The leather floppy part can be turned down and folded back into deep tops (as shown in the photo).
The English community followed on with the boot trend. People preferred practical, low-heeled and cheap shoes that suited all occasions and the cavalier boot ticked those boxes.
Finland, Norway, Sweden - Sami Reindeer Boots
Just a heads up, these shoes aren’t suitable for lovers of Bambi. The Sami people are an indigenous group of people known for their semi-normadic reindeer herding.
The Sami reindeer boots are made from real reindeer fur and you may notice the pointy tip? This upturned tip helps easily hook into skis. This next part is not for the light-hearted. The soles of the shoes are made from the forehead of the reindeer’s skull, while the upper parts of the shoe are from of skin from the forelegs and legs.
Can’t say we’ll be trying on these shoes anytime soon but they’re definitely worth a mention!
Ireland - Oxfords
The Oxford mens shoes are quite stylish and the intricate detail and design are definitely worth a mention.
The shoes first gained popularity during the 18th Century. Oxford university students would wear the shoes to feel fashionable and powerful. However, as the old saying goes, “beauty is pain.” The original shoes weren’t the most comfy shoes created. Luckily, as the years passed, the shoe evolved to have narrow slits on the sides to make it more comfortable to wear. After a few more years, the slits were replaced with laces and eventually ended up on the instep of the boot.
Croatia - Startas
Travelled to Croatia lately? Chances are you’ve see Startas. Startas are generally small, lightweight shoes, often containing a quirky pattern print.
It wasn’t until the company targeted the shoes at athletes that they truly began to gain popularity. Sort of like Converse shoes, the Startas were quickly make popular by school kids and college students.
They come in a variety of colours and patterns meaning you can choose a style to fit your personality.
Germany - Heavy Metal Shoes
Are you a fan of heavy metal concerts? Maybe you just enjoy the sound of the music and want to rock out to the beat. These shoes may not be heavy-metal-music related but they sure are made from metal! The heavy metal shoe design was created to re-define and re-engineer the structure of high-heels. Who was the mastermind behind the concept? Berlin-based Haute Couture label Kimberit.
Russia - Lapti
Lapi shoes were traditional worn by Russian peasants. Just for a little trivia, in the olden ages, “lapa” meant foot whereas now it means, “paw”.
The Lapi-style of shoe was always predicted to be popular. They were cheap and most other poor people wouldn’t be able to afford any other form of footwear. However, fast forward a few years and now people usually only wear Lapi style shoes for special occasions such as celebrations or costume shows (it’s incredible how fashion changes).
So what about usability? Unfortunately, Lapis don’t last very long. Only about a week or two (and they break even faster in rainy weather), hence why they’re quite cheap and generally made from tree bark.
Italy - Caligae
Roman Caligae (or as we now know them, Gladiator Sandals) have been around for decades and are described as heavy-soled hobnailed military boots. They contain three leather layers: an outsole, a middle upwork layer and an insole. The sandals were laces up the center of the the foot and onto the top of the ankle.
Caligae’s were originally issued to Roman legionary soldiers throughout the Roman Republic an Empire. The sandals were a quite prestige form of footwear. They were worn inside and sometimes even carried by slaves to be changed into for special occasions. Today, we wear Caligae’s as an everyday style of shoe. To the movies, shopping, even to the park.
France - Sabot
The Sabot clog is one, very old-looking clog. You’re right. French Sabots have been around for decades.
The traditional French shoe were worn by factory workers and peasants. Legend says angry workers would use their sabots to purposefully damage factory machinery. Hence, the name, sabot or sabotage.
On the other hand, other studies say the workers who wore the Sabot clog were simply less productive than those who switched out for leather shoes, thus, leading to calling the workers inefficient and naming the shoes, “sabots”.
France - Cromwell
France has always been at the front line of shoe fashion (or generally, interesting and weird shoes). The Cromwell’s are another example of France’s unique creations. They came about in 1885 and contained heels over six inches high making them quite difficult to walk in.
The Cromwell’s were generally worn by men of higher power but after a few years the shoes began to be adopted by women. Fortunately, the highly impractical shoes faded out of fashion by 1900.
Today, the shoes are found in museums.
England - Wool Shoes
Are you a fan of wooly sheep? Or wooly shoes? In 2017, Topshop released the wooly shoes. Basically, they’re play on the contemporary “ugg boot” and “heel shoe”.
There was a mixed reaction from the public when the shoes were first released, with some people commenting the shoes reminded them of “Shaun the Sheep” - a popular kids television show.
Either or, the shoes gained a wide amount of attention by the general public. As for the evolvement of the shoe, maybe not in the near future. But we’ll be sure to keep our eyes peeled incase they do make a return.
Rome - Leather Boot
Boots remind us of warm leather shoes that go up above our ankles and protect our feet from the cold, wet and winter weather. Flashback to the second century and you’ll find Roman Leather boots.
The boot probably look worn out because, well, it is. But if you look closely, you can see it doesn’t offer much foot protection compared to our contemporary leather boots. However there is some positive news, the original shoe did contain a hobnailed sole to prevent the shoe from wearing out.
England - The Leather Footbag
They were first developed in the 16th century and resembled wearing a shoe in a bag - something we probably all did as a kid. The shoes were simple slip-ons and occasionally featured a bar strap or a small buckle.
So what about the big puffy bit at the front of the sole? Surely our ancestors toes weren’t that large. The front part of the shoe was sometimes stuffed with straw, wool or moss to give off a ‘puffy’ effect.
France - Square Toe Shoe
1830s was the beginning of the “square shoe” era - a ballet slip on type of shoe is a good way to describe the shoe style. Back in the day, the shoes were a raging success. They were narrow and the shoe’s lightweight construction made it feel like you were virtually wearing nothing on your feet. As time went on, the square toe concept was taken and developed into sturdier, leather shoes, worn by both men and women.
Today, the shoes have yet again evolved. We see square-shoes as a popular mens dress shoe design and womens low-heel work style shoe.
Europe - Heelless Shoes
The heelless shoe isn’t something that gained popularity only a few years ago. In fact, the shoe design dates back all the way to 1600. Now heels shoes have caught on world wide.
The heelless shoe basically consists of balancing all your weight on the front part of the sole of the shoe. So what happens if you lean back? You’ll most likely fall.
Overall, the design is quite interesting and we feel it will come in and out of fashion for the many years to come. But one thing’s for sure, this shoe is made for people with great stability. Otherwise it can easily become a falling hazard.
Europe - Concealed Shoes
Rather than wearing shoes, how would you feel about hiding them in a building as an act of goodluck and to ‘keep bad spirits away’? Seriously, this actually happened once upon a time. In fact, this was an ancient practice and dates back to around 1860s (we couldn’t pinpoint an exact location).
Working class people and children would deliberately conceal shoes in buildings while building homes and as they underwent home renovations as a form of goodluck. Hundreds of years later these shoes have been dug up for the world to see with popular places being inside chimneys, behind calls and even in floorboards and roofs.
France - Louis Heel
Imagine being the King of France in the 1660s. You would get to eat the most divine food and drink the most exquisite wines. For King Louis XIV, this was reality. In the 1600s he became one of Europe’s most influential men and was responsible for perpetuating several trends within his time. One of the trends being the Louis heel. The shoe contained a wooden heel with a straight back line and an outward flare to the base. Painted on the shoe would be various landscapes and intricate designs.
It’s a shoe fit for a king, what else can I say?
France - Flat Heels
So far we’ve visited a few types of ballet-style shoes, like the French, Square Toe Shoe. Another to add to the list is the Flat Heel. Come the French Revolution in 1789 and the downfall of the monarchy significantly hurt France’s reputation. By the end of the 17th century, french shoes was once again in fashion. During this time, flat heels were born.
The shoes have a sandal, low-cut, slip-on look. They contain a distinct pointed toe, have a near small heel with a elastic loop and string to tie up the shoe to the foot so it doesn’t slip out. The shoe also contains some fine detail to give the elegant, fashionable French look.
Serbia - Serbian Opanci Shoes
Opanci is pronounced as ‘oh-pants-i’. Traditionally, the Siberian shoes were worn by peasants and were considered a national symbol of Serbia but they were also the basic footwear for the Serbian population till the first half of the 20th century. Of course, there are different types of shoes depending on the region and use. Each different style has a different name. For example, you can have Presni opanci (made with raw leather), a DjonaÅ¡i (made from tanned cow skin), or a variety of other styles.
Morocco - Babouche
Anyone who loves a burst of colour and slippers will love these Babouche, Moroccan handcrafted slippers. The shoes are made from either a cloth or leather material, have a pointed toe, no heel and are usually ornamented for special occasions.
The slippers come in many different colours and designs. Just choose your colour, a design and you’re good to go! They include embroidered pictures, sequins, tassels, knots and patterns. We wouldn’t mind giving these cute little slippers a try! They seem to be the perfect shoe to wear for a movie night or for when you’re out and about.
South Africa - Veldskoen
Tan leather, coloured laces. The ‘Hunter’ shoe range is behind the uniquely-coloured, modern shoe. Consumers choose a lace colour based on their personality, their daily look or their mood.
The handcrafted shoes were first released in 2016 and represent South Africa’s positive energy and kindness. Since then they’ve gained world-wide attention. In 2017, the brand expanded into Europe and in 2018 Veldskoen launched in the United States. With the way the Brand is growing, it’s only a matter of time before the brand hits our Aussie shores.
Australia - Ugg Boots
Particularly during the colder months it’s quite normal to see people walking around wearing a pair of Uggs. There’s really nothing better than tucking your trackies into your Ugg Boots and kicking back with a movie.
Let us fill you in in case you’re not acquainted with Uggs. They’re a style of boot generally consisting of a sheep wool inside to keep the foot warm inside the shoe. Today, uggs come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. Tall uggs, slipper style uggs and short classic ugg boots are a few examples.
Australia - Baxter Boot
Every Aussie horse rider has a Baxter Boot. The boots were founded in 1850 in the small place of Goulburn by Henry Baxter. Henry loved the Australian bush and riding so it’s no surprise he invested a boot that could suit the environment he so much loved. The first version of the Baxter boot was specifically designed for horse riding. It’s made from a tough material for durability and if you look up really close, you’ll see the craftsman really paid attention to detail in the stitching on the shoe.
Today, there are many adaptations of the boots and sold all across Australia.
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