Sandals Throughout History

IMG_1308Sandals and summertime naturally go together. The ever-popular footwear lets your feet breath from top to toes throughout hot, sticky weather, keeping you cooler from the ground up. Next time you strap on your favorite pair of leather gladiator sandals or strappy, bead-embellished kicks, you can thank prehistoric humans whose necessity-driven shoe invention sparked off our enduring passion for sandals.

The oldest known pair of barely-there footwear is around 10,000 years old and made of sagebrush bark. Chances are that their wearers were still dressed in animal hides, yet their fashion sense was already outpacing their technology.

Greeks wore “sandalons” made from leaves, tree twigs and fiber for artistic performances and philosophizing alike. Ancient Egyptians made their sandals from palm and papyrus, both locally available and sustainable materials, just like the items in the Harkiss Collection.

With as many styles, materials and profile variations as you can imagine, sandals are among the most eclectic type of shoes. Some of the most popular styles over the centuries include:

Caligae – Roman military footwear with thick soles

  • Gladiator – T-strap sandals of Roman origin
  • Fisherman – T-bar sandal with enclosed toes
  • Geta – Japanese thong sandal with a built-up wooden sole
  • Huaraches – woven straw or leather footwear from Mexico
  • Flip Flops – go-to slip-ons for beach and poolside
  • Saltwater – waterproof flats from the 1940s for children
  • Hiking – rugged sandals with all-terrain rubber sole and water-friendly materials

Sandals are so ubiquitous among vacationers, office workers, recreationalists and fashionista that designers consider it a challenge to create unique, handcrafted statement sandals for the most discriminating tastes. Our Harkiss sandals are excellent examples of this trend toward a more evocative and stylistically rare species of summertime footwear.


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