The footwear of the 19th century served as a launching pad for the men's shoe fashions of today. We have this century to thank for much of what we now consider standard in terms of shoe design and production method. Classic men's shoe models were developed during this period, and remain virtually unchanged to this day.
At the beginning of the 19th century men primarily wore low-rise shoes. New low-rise models received a boost in popularity with the advent of the first fashion magazines. Goodyear-welted men's shoes, developed through a sort of competition among European master shoemakers between the years 1880 and 1889, are still considered classics today. They remain as hotly in demand as they were at the time of their creation.
The Industrial Revolution changed society and production standards
Men's shoe production also made massive strides during the 19th century. Industrialization began around 1830 and enabled the mass production of footwear. The shoe industry was built on the back of the sewing machine; this and other technological advances of the Industrial Revolution allowed for a higher and more cost-effective rate of shoe production than ever before.
The changing social fabric of the time entailed changes in footwear fashion. The old, simple hierarchy of the nobility and the common people no longer existed, and a clear gender divide also began to solidify. Men began to go to work, for which they required practical footwear. Women, on the other hand, stayed at home, where they wore impractical, fanciful types of shoes.
Although it is taken for granted today, the existence of different shoes for right and left feet is a relatively new invention: this important development in shoe fit was not introduced until the end of the 19th century. At this time shoemakers began working with combinations of sole and vamp cuts specifically tailored to fit either the right or the left foot.
Important Eras of shoe history
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