Shoes have become an important part of our everyday lives. Shoes were originally designed to protect our feet from cold weather, sharp objects, and uncomfortable surfaces. The early version of the shoe is thought to be a sandal of some form. As man’s knowledge of tools and the working of leather grew, so did the sophistication and quality of the average shoe. Shoes are shaped by the physical and economic environment of their surroundings. For example, the ancient Egyptians wore flip-flops woven from straw while the Dutch wore shoes carved from wood to protect their feet from damp marshy land they worked in.
With the passing of time shoes have become an integral part of daily lives. Shoes have passed on from being an item of luxury to an item of necessity. Fashion also played a role in the evolution of the shoe. The human psyche craves for an individual and unique identity. The nobility and upper classes saw shoes as an opportunity to fulfill this desire. The shoes got more and more extravagant. Cloth, velvet and tapestries began to be used. This was the birth of the shoe industry as we know it today. Today shoes are classified according to their use. They are casual and dress, work, sport and corrective.
All shoes fall in the casual category due to their characteristics. The differentiating factor is the purpose of the shoe. Casual shoes are designed and intended to convey an attitude of relaxation and informality. Casual shoe design has evolved with the passing time. Today’s casual shoes resemble formal dress shoes in many aspects. The distinguishing factor is the color of the shoe. Casual shoes range from flip-flops to sneakers and boots. The materials used in the manufacture range from leather, canvas and rubber to the modern petrochemical derivatives like plastics and xylenes.
Formal dress shoes are of two varieties – laced and lace less. Traditionally they are made from leather and tended to be expensive. The use of plastics and modern manufacture methods has brought down prices. The upper classes still prefer leather over what they consider cheap plastic. Women’s dress shoes may be a variant of pumps or sandals. The style of clothing decides the category of the shoe in case of women. Unisex shoes are a new product in the shoe market.
Sport shoes are specialized shoes designed and created to enable better performance in a particular sporting activity. Sport or athletic footwear is used in a number of sports like football, basketball, cricket, and track and field events. Climbing shoes are also a specialized type to footwear unsuitable to any other sport and even to walking due to its design. It is usually donned at the base of a climb. Basketball and tennis shoes have rubber soles to enable better grip on their respective courts. Sports like football, soccer, baseball and hockey use shoes with metal spikes on the under sole to give better grip for quick starts and stops. Hiking boots or trail boots are designed to support the ankle to prevent injury and to give good grip on rocky surfaces.