Feet connect us to the world and help us move through the world. Bare feet are seen as humble, but shoes are vehicles for mobility and therefore linked to status. Different forms of footwear across the world are sometimes limited to members of certain classes by law, social taboos and financial cost. Putting one’s best foot forward involves wearing shoes that signify one’s status, class and ambition.
These women’s ‘City Mules’ are made from wood inlaid with mother of pearl with a leather strap. They came from Syria in 1968.
Amongst the rural nomadic Bedouin tribes, women and children would often not be able to afford shoes, going barefoot or at most owning simple sandals. Only women who considered themselves wealthy enough to be ‘city ladies’ wore shoes. The more women at a Bedouin wedding wearing shoes, the higher the status of the marriage.
Ski boots were originally leather winter boots fixed to the ski with simple leather straps. As skiing became more specialized, the design of ski boots developed, leading to a split in styles between those worn for alpine skiing and those for cross country skiing, including the introduction of a stiffer leg with the advent of the ski lift.
Many ski boot brands were established including in 1950 the Austrian company Humanic . They started manufacturing leather boots before introducing buckles in 1965 and plastic components in the early 1970s. They changed their name to Dynafit in the 70s.
These boots were purchased in 1975 by the donor’s father when he first learned to ski. The donor took them on when his father moved onto a more modern pair in the late 70s. They were worn until the mid-80s.
There are still a number of shoe factories making classic men’s footwear in Northampton and the county. Trickers are one such firm.
One of the longest established shoemakers in England, RE Tricker Limited was founded in 1829 by Joseph Tricker. They soon developed a reputation for outstanding quality, establishing themselves as the maker of choice for heavy country boots and shoes to farm and estate owners and the landed gentry.
Tricker’s Boot and Shoe
The new Tricker’s factory, located at 56-60 St Michael’s Rd, Northampton, opened its doors in 1904. This is where these wonderful examples of a Bourton country shoe and a Stow country boot were made. You may have seen the factory frontage as it appeared in the film Kinky Boots in 2006.
We get some interesting donations to the Shoe Collection and this shoe is a replica of a much earlier style.
The medieval poulaine, which sported a very distinctive long and pointed toe, disappeared from fashion by 1500. It was replaced with the Tudor cow’s mouth, also known as the hornbill, platypus or the bear paw. This was a flat soled shoe with a broad toe. It could be a simple slip-on shoe or, alternately, have a bar strap across the foot or be fastened with a small buckle. In the 1500s the merchant classes across Europe were beginning to enjoy an altogether wider, more relaxed style. This was a time of great political, intellectual and social change in Europe that coincided with an increase in both the presence and influence of a rich and powerful bourgeoisie. Naturally, the fashions of the day reflected this. Just think of King Henry VIII with his square boxed padded shoulders echoed by his broad toed shoes.
Cow’s Mouth Shoes
Cow’s mouths were worn across society though the more fancy and shapely they were the higher you were on the social ladder. Amazingly, the soles of some shoes during Henry’s reign reached an incredible 17 cm (6½ in).
This shoe with its wooden last were probably made to illustrate the Tudor style or perhaps for fancy dress?
Northampton Museum and Art Gallery is home to the best public collection of trainers. The collection covers 1900 to the present day and many well- known and not so well known brands. We are always pleased to add to this collection, so it was with great delight that one of our volunteers on the Virtually Shoe project brought in these trainers as a donation.
Beverley bought them Shoe Zone for £12.99 in 2013. She was keen for a pair of her own shoes to become part of the collection. They are a great example of affordable trainers from the high street.
The Glass Slipper
Cinderella’s iconic glass slipper is a classic feature in one of the most popular Christmas pantomimes of all time.
This glass slipper is too small for Cinderella but in the nineteenth century, such shoe-shaped items were often used to display flowers and as novelty items. They were fashioned from pressed glass made by steam powered presses.
Glass maybe the acknowledged material for Cinderella’s shoes but in many versions of the story, Cinderella’s shoes are described as golden.
There was an erroneous story that the slippers of Charles Perrault’s story were not made of glass but of fur. It was thought that the confusion sprang from a mistranslation of the word vair meaning squirrel fur rather than verre meaning glass. In fact the slipper has always been glass in European tradition.
We wish you a shoe-tastic Christmas and a Happy Shoe year.
This fabulous shoe was designed by Joanne Stoker.
Stoker’s shoes, handmade in England, reflect her passion for art, architecture and travel. These passions are then translated into pieces of art we can all wear every day.
Joanne studied at the renowned Cordwainers College in London where she graduated with a Masters in Footwear Design. Mentored by Jimmy Choo, she soon established her own eponymous shoe brand.
She has an instantly recognisable signature – sculptural and architectural heels reflecting her love of cubism and her obsession with architecture. Her shoes would definitely make you stand out in the crowd.
We are always delighted to add shoes designed by contemporary shoe designers to our ever expanding shoe collection.