High Heels History

High Heels History

Women’s footwear with high elevation at the heel accounts for almost 14 percent of the value of the global $250 billion shoe industry. The shoes are a fixture at footwear trade shows around the world, including at this week’s New York Shoe Show.
But high heels actually began life as a men’s shoe. One theory says they were designed to help mounted soldiers keep their feet in the stirrups. Persians, the stories go, brought the innovation to Europe in the 15th century.
Since then, the shoes have been associated with male aristocracy (17th century), witchcraft (18th), female sex appeal (19th on) — and back, foot and calf injuries and strain.

High heels are a cultural conundrum for many women who recognize both their debilitating effects and their supposed allure. And they’re a statement piece among some gender-fluid folks.

They’re also tools for activists. Mostly men compete in Madrid Pride’s annual high-heel race (minimum height: 4 inches). And some U.S. cities host awareness-raising “Walk a Mile in My Shoes” high-heel events for men.

4 Replies to “High Heels History”

  1. I never wore heels over 1 inch and haven’t worn them in years. I wish they would make comfortable flats like sneakers that look nice for women–but I guess it is a man’s business

    1. My god! Such a sensible woman. Bravo! When I lived in Europe I wore Mephistos and Birkenstocks walking shoes. They were great After returning stateside I slipped into LLBean slip on mocs. My favorite is a pair of blue suede shoes. I’ve had them for years. Comfort is key for me.

  2. Yikes! that picture is intimidating. As I age, so the height of my heels has lessened with flats now being the most comfortable choice, although I still own a lovely pair of red/orange suede ankle boots with a wedge heel. I have owned them for more than ten years and still looking good as new. I love wearing them on special occasions but they are the only shoes I own with a heel over 5 cms (or 2 inches for those who don’t use metrics).

    1. Thanks Joy! It is intimidating! It also reminds me of the absurd foot fashion today. I took a photo a few months ago of platform shoes young people are wearing and wondered how they could even move about without breaking something. I’ll find it and post.

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