Shoes are worn for more than just protecting the human feet. They're also worn because they complete the look you're attempting to achieve. The history of shoes is extensive, and no one knows when the first pair was manufactured, but we do know that they were designed to keep the feet warm. There are many various kinds now, and each pair distinctly aids you. To distinguish their culture from the rest of the world, people have always opted for ways such as language, clothing, and footwear as an expression of their culture. Every aspect of a country's national costume was formed following its traditions, beliefs, and natural conditions. Shoes aren't an exception to this rule. They are often the most prominent aspect of a traditional ensemble. Paying careful attention to the people, the culture, the language, the style of dress, and, most importantly, engaging each other in conversation may teach us a lot about a place. Traveling helps us understand and learn more about the wide variety of cultures that exist in the world today. But since the pandemic has restricted the way we travel today; it is difficult for us to discover new places and cultures. Countless varieties of shoes have been worn by millions of people for centuries.
We have curated a list of some of the most unique and traditionally worn shoes from around the world and hope you get an insight into their cultures!
- India – Jutti
Mostly worn in the northern part of India, Juttis are considered a traditional pair of footwear. Juttis are made with a leather/vegan leather base and are embellished with exquisite stitching. Easy to slip into, this type of footwear is traditionally worn during the wedding season to add a finishing touch to Indian ethnic outfits. Today, Juttis are not only limited to North India and are adorned by people from all parts of the world. Many homegrown Indian brands are focusing on bringing back the Indian artisanal skill of Jutti making, as the demand for this particular type of footwear has seen a surge in the last few years. Juttis are available in a wide range of colors and embellishments. PAIO offers a wide selection of exclusively handcrafted Juttis that will be an amazing addition to your wardrobe. PAIO Juttis are made of 100% PETA-approved vegan leather and are embellished with the extraordinary artisanal skills of the kaarigars. Not only do our Juttis look fashionable but are also very comfortable on their feet.
PAIO Ava Sequence Jutti
- Japan – Jika-Tabi
The invention of Tabi dates back to 15th century Japan. After the country began importing cotton from China, socks with separated toes were created to be worn with traditional zori and geta thonged sandals. Geta is Japan’s traditional footwear that is meant to be worn outside of the house. Geta or Okobo are made of a solid piece of wood with wooden slatsisis on the bottom of the sole. They have a v-shaped strap on top resembling the type of slippers. Like every other traditional footwear, Geta are also worn with Japanese traditional attire. To make socks that were easy to be worn with Geta, Tabi socks were introduced. The socks have a slit in the toe area so that they are easy to be worn with Geta. Tabi socks were worn widely until the turn of the 20th century when Japan's industrialization and increased usage of rubber in manufacturing led to Tabi’s use for outdoor purposes. The Jika-tabi — or "direct tabi," as in "tabi that touch the ground directly" — was invented by Shojiro Ishibashi, the founder of tire-making company Bridgestone, who redesigned the sock as a light yet sturdy worker boot. Today, the style tabi has been popularised by the Belgian designer Martin Margiela. Margiela in 1988 designed his first pair of Tabi shoes, keeping in mind the traditional Japanese silhouette of the Tabi.
Maison Margiela Tabi Boot
- North America – Moccasins
North America is the land of various cultures and subcultures. Moccasins are indigenous to North America and are traditionally worn by the indigenous people in Canada. Europeans used these heelless, comfy walking shoes to keep their feet warm and dry during the fur trade. Moccasins are still worn as outerwear and as examples of exquisite Indigenous craftsmanship and workmanship. Moccasins are traditionally made of animal hide and embellished with various beadwork techniques to the pair. Indigenous women used red ochre paint, fringe, ribbon, quillwork, and copper bells to embellish their moccasins in the past. The maker's or wearer's heritage, community, or personal history were typically expressed in the moccasin's design. Today, many designers and fashion houses have adopted the silhouette of moccasins and embellish them in their ways. There are countless varieties of moccasins available today both for men and women.
Traditional Indigenous Moccasins
- Europe – Clogs
Like, manyonesiesthe Japanese Geta (as mentioned above), clogs are also footwear that is either completely made up of wood or have some part of the footwear made up of wood. Clogs have traditionally been worn in some parts of European countries; from Scandinavia to France and Northern England. These all-wooden shoes, made up of a single block of wood, were known by different names in different countries. For example, they were called Klomp in the Netherlands, Sabot in France, and Klompen in Germany. Choosing the type of wood to make clogs was of the utmost importance. A good quality wood was used to make Clogs so that the shoe would not split up. Wood types such as Alder birch, Sycamore, and Willow were commonly used to make clogs. The sole of the clogs was made of a thick straw bed to provide cushioning against the rigidity of the wood. Clogs were worn by both men and women and became an ideal choice of workers working in hard conditions. When clogs were worn out, they were used to fuel the fire. Fun fact, the clogs are certified as a safety shoe by the European Union. The industrialization of shoemaking gave rise to innovation in these wooden shoes and usage of wood was replaced by other materials to make clogs. Today, many brands are known for their modernized versions of clogs. Birkenstock offers a range of unisex clogs and is keeping the silhouette still relevant.
Super-Birki Polyurethane(PU) Black Regular Width Unisex Clogs
- Morocco – Babouche
The French word “Babouche” stems from the Arabic word “Babush”. The French word "babouche" refers to a flat Moroccan slipper that is so soft that the section that covers your heel can be flattened and worn under your foot. Further investigation suggests that the name is Persian in origin, derived from the Persian word "Papush," with the "pa" alluding to "foot." Babouche gained popularity among the French countries in the 17th century because of the soft soles that provided comfort. Yves Saint Laurent and his love for Marrakech is well known in the fashion industry. It is said that Yves would often wear his Babouche slippers to wander around the city. Claimed as the “Must-Have” shoe by vogue in 2016, the slippers gained popularity in the mainstream when Carrie Bradshaw in the movie Sex and The City falls in love with a pair of Babouche while on her trip to the middle east. The Moroccan “Fassi” is the most identifiable babouche shoe in the variety of babouche slippers. It is worn on a variety of events, including religious celebrations, and is thus an important aspect of Moroccan culture and identity. Babouche today has been modernized by the designer Phoebe Philo during her time at Celine. Luxury brands such as Gucci, Chanel, Prada, and Balenciaga have their own versions of the Babouche slippers. Pointy nose, slender silhouette, and weaved luxury leather are some major elements of the oriental Babouche slippers.
Celine Jacno Babouche unisex slippers
- Pakistan, India – Mojari
While Juttis were still popularly worn as traditional footwear, several slightly different variations of Juttis came into existence. Mojari or Khussa (as known in Pakistan) are long shoes with the end of the shoe curled upwards. The Mojari was created during the Mughal Empire and was embellished with colors, diamonds, and other embellishments. They are often referred to as Saleem Shahis since they are thought to have gained popularity under Mughal King Saleem Shah. They're also frequently paired with a Salwar Kameez. Just like Juttis, Mojaris are also made of fine leather embellished with gems, beads, mirrors, stitching, and color variations. Modernized versions of Mojaris are still popular in today’s time and are worn usually with traditional attire. Khussa, Mojari, and Juttis have been existing since the 17th century and are still worn in many South Asian countries.
Shoes have always been a powerful status symbol among different cultures all over the world. Each shoe we see today has a history, origin, and some significant importance in the past. Every silhouette we see today was once designed to provide functionality in the past. Further innovation has helped make the ancient silhouettes relevant in modern times.