Shoemaking history began many years ago
Shoes were primarily made out of different types of tree bark, leaves and rawhide. The first shoes fell into two categories: sandals and moccasins. Both began with some sort of simple sole that was strapped to the foot. While sandals were found mainly in warmer regions and shielded the sole of the foot, moccasins offered greater protection to those living in colder areas of the world. Other types of ancient and traditionally made shoes included furs wrapped around feet, and sandals wrapped over them.
In Medieval times, the toes of men’s shoes grew longer and more pointed. A sign of status was the longer the toe the better. Soon men’s and women’s shoes evolved into round and square toe shapes and the soles had become wider.
As we reached the 1500s, shoemakers began to incorporate higher heels on women’s shoes and more functional heels on men’s shoes.
In the mid 18th century shoemaking expanded and became more commercialized.
Until the 19th century, shoemaking was a traditional craft, but by the century’s end, the process had been almost completely mechanized. The invention of the sewing machine in 1846 opened more doors to shoemakers. Hand stitching was eventually replaced with automated sewing via machine for virtually all cobblers. However, the age of automation was also marked the decline of the cobbler, turning shoemakers into industrialised shoe manufacturers.
Factory produced shoes without the individual differentiation that the traditional shoemaker was able to provide.
Most shoes nowadays are made on a volume basis, rather than a craft basis. A pair of tailored footwear can cost thousands of pounds. Traditional shoemakers still exist today keeping bespoke shoemaking trade alive.