Footwear history may be traced to the earliest humans leading their lives barefoot. Later on, handmade shoes gained momentum when early men invented footwear more than a hundred thousand years ago as protection from harsh weather conditions and for improved mobility.
Now you can order Italian men’s boots online in minutes but the evolution of handcrafted leather boots took thousands of years. Let’s start the journey.
The Beginning of Shoes Started From Otzi Alps
The history of handmade shoes began with cavemen who crafted footwear using raw materials available at that time. In ancient times, boots were worn by legislators and priests while sandals were preferred by ordinary individuals.
For centuries, people have been fascinated by shoes. The earliest mention of them in history dates back to approximately 40,000 years ago and researchers speculate that humans began wearing footwear around this time period as well.
In the year 1991, they found what is now considered to be one of the oldest pairs ever discovered- Otzi's 5000-year old shoe was also intricately designed with a separate sole made from 3 different types of leather; these were insulated with hay for warmth too!
Handcrafted Leather Boots Of Pharaos
The Egyptians wore sandals, but not like the ones we're used to. They were made from woven reed or leather and sometimes adorned with jewels or buckles for those who could afford it! There are many theories on why they suddenly became popular after being absent in their culture for so long, including that these shoes helped preserve feet against heat exhaustion during construction efforts near rivers.
It has been said that rich people have it made, but the truth is they've got a lot of limitations. The Pharaohs and clerics were allowed to wear sandals at first because their feet would get dirty or hurt from walking on the hot ground all day long.
It wasn't until later when members of the free class could buy certain types with colors like red which distinguished them as well as showed where in society you belonged; slaves had no choice over what color footwear was given out so theirs came either black or brown.
High-Quality Leather Boots Were Introduced in Mediterranean
The ancient craftsmen of the Mediterranean area were experts at making protective sandals. They used leather to tie them together and a piece of wood for support on your foot. If you haven't tried it, I recommend giving this type of shoe one go! In medieval Europe, they made wooden shoes that needed only pieces cut into shoe form to be prepared before use.
Handcrafted shoes come in many different styles now. However, in the 1600s, there were two main types of handcrafted footwear: slippers and riding boots. The craftsmanship became more commercialized during the mid-18th century as stores began stocking them with small manufacturers from the area creating a variety for buyers to choose from at their leisure.
Italy: The Introducer Of Handcrafted Leather Boots
Footwear made in Italy was mostly manufactured from natural cowhide leather but exquisite pairs were also made from exotic animal skins such as tiger, elephant skin, etc. Due to the lack of sophisticated technology available during those days, the construction of handmade shoes was done manually using various hand tools such as knives, needles, and awls.
Handmade shoes from Italy gained a lot of popularity in Europe. Moreover, handmade shoes from France, Germany or England were very popular in various countries worldwide. This was the time when the shoe industry flourished with hundreds of manufacturers manufacturing handmade shoes on a commercial scale and exporting to other continents such as Australia and New Zealand.
Modernization of Shoemaking By Avril
Historically known as 'shoon' originally, modern handmade shoes are said to have originated during the early 18th century AD when French cutter Philippe Avril invented the new stocking machine which reduced the production cost by half and increased production manifolds. The rise in demand for handmade shoes led to an extensive commercial shoe industry in England where shoe manufacturing was introduced by the makers immigrating from Italy.
This marked the beginning of handmade shoemaking, wholesale as well as retail business processes that were predominant during this period. Later on, mechanization in the turning machine drove the evolution of handmade shoes which led to large-scale production at affordable prices for a wider consumer base.
Craftsmanship Still Matters
In Italy, artisans are still specializing in hand-crafted leather footwear with hammering applied by skillful artisans using tin forms whereas, in England and America, special machinery is used to cut the leather or rubber out of a pattern on a punching machine. In handmade shoes, leather uppers are stitched together to form the shoe and then carefully crafted by artisans using an awl or a needle for punching holes into the pattern.
This forms sole patterns followed by meticulous hand sewing on each hole and features skillful artisans who specialize in hand-crafted leatherwork. Earlier these artisans were called "shoemakers" but today they are known as "cordwainers".
Cordwainers: Creators of Italian Leather Boots
The tradition is still carried out in many parts of Italy where cordwainers still travel from town to town with their special kits. The tradition was passed on from generation to generation and over the centuries, Italian cordwainers have created history and rich cultural heritage. They are mostly skilled in leather items that include workers' boots; shoes as well as fashion accessories such as belts, wallets, handbags, etc.
Cordwainers were people who made handmade shoes or repaired them by the use of needles and thread. History says that they were also known to mend various other types of fabric goods like clothing for royalty and merchants alike. Cordwainer's guilds date back to medieval times when there was a demand for their craftsmanship.
And The Tradition Still Continues
In Florence, Italy we can trace the history of Italian hand-made shoes. Skilled craftsmen manufacture them on a small scale, carrying out their craft using traditional manufacturing methods.
Some artisans continue artisan shoemaking traditions dating back to medieval times such as those employed at Guido Nicolini's family workshop set in the Tuscan countryside near Florence.
At the century-old shoemaking houses in Italy, the tradition is passed down from one generation to another ensuring that only quality products are produced and providing clients with an experience they will not forget. Handmade shoemaking is a laborious process and in many traditional leather workshops across Italy.
Let’s not forget about those dedicated craftsmen throughout this journey of thousand years while you are picking Italian leather boots for men or women!