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Traditional Clogs in Europe

The origin of wooden footwear in Europe is not precisely known. De Boer-Olij reference to the high, thick-soled boots of the Greek tragedy actors in Antiquity (the buskin) and to the shoes worn by Roman soldiers (the caligae). However, there is a possibility that the Celtic and Germanic peoples from Southern- and Northern Europe were familiar with some sort of wooden foot covering.

Archeological finds of these are not known. Wooden footwear often ended up as firewood and, because of its nature, wood will rot away in the long run. The oldest surviving wooden footwear in Europe is found in Amsterdam and Rotterdam, the Netherlands and dates from 1230 and 1280. These finds look very similar to the wooden shoes as they are still worn in The Netherlands.

Since wooden footwear was a hand-made product, the shape of the footwear, as well as its production process showed great local and regional diversity in style. At the beginning of the 20th century machine-made wooden footwear was introduced. After WW2, in particular, wooden shoes disappeared from sight. They were replaced by more fashionable, all-leather and synthetic footwear. At present, only the so-called Swedish clogs (wooden bottom and leather top) is still seen as a trendy fashion item. Often as ladies’ high heel boots. Nevertheless, traditional wooden footwear is still popular in several regions in Europe and with some occupations. This for its practical use. Some historic local variations have been replaced by national models today.

 

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