The history of ancient Greek sandals: a journey from antiquity to the present

The history of ancient Greek sandals

It’s a pair of shoe that is known by everyone. Its design is emblematic and no one can deny that. Ancient Greek sandals are the go-to shoes for every summer and every vacation. If we could picture summer in an outfit, it would probably be a floral boho-chic dress with a pair of ancient Greek sandals.

The history of ancient Greek sandals

But when did it all started? How this simple pair of shoe took over our wardrobes all over the world? How did they become part of every style anyone can have?

The word sandal has Greek origin: σάνδαλον > sandalon. The Greeks would distinguish the sandals between the paxeia and the kothornos. The first kind was a sandal made of willow leaves, twigs or fibers. They were worn by comic actors and philosophers. A kothornos was the shoe worn by tragic actors, horsemen, hunters and by men of rank and authority. This kind of shoe was a boot sandal that rose above the middle of the leg and the sole was much thicker by the insertion of slices of cork so as to add the stature of the wearer.

In ancient Greece sandals were the most common type of footwear. They were worn by both men and women. The Greek sandals had many straps which were used to securely be fastened the shoe to the foot. The top of the sandals were usually of colored leather and the soles were made of cattle skin and had many layers. Greeks were able to adapt footwear for every type of activity. They emphasized on beauty, elegance and refinement. They considered shoes as an adornment of their feet.

Ancient Greek sandals were really important part of their garment. Evidence of that is the fact that we can find this type of shoe in Greek Mythology. The messenger of the Gods, Hermes was wearing such sandals that also had wings so he can fly from place to place under the commands of Zeus. Sandals were so tightly connected with Greek culture that sculptors were inspired by them. They made the sandals the epicenter of their creations. Definitely worth mentioning is the statue of goddess Aphrodite. She holds a sandal while she is protecting a boy from God Pan.

Another example is the sculpture of the Temple of Goddess Athena of Nike. She is illustrated while she is putting on her sandal. And then of course, we have Parthenon. On the west part of the Frieze, Phidias, the famous architect, sculpted the figure of a young man who ties up his sandal. One can easily come to the conclusion that the Greeks likes to portray the use of sandals in their everyday life as a ritual. Sandals were worn by anyone, either God or mortal. They were part of their identity and culture as Greeks.

The (r)evolution of the ancient Greek sandals

The new French Republic, after the revolution of 1789 started to look into the culture of ancient Greece and Rome to find inspiration. People loved the classically draped garments and along with that, the most fashionable women started to wear sandals. This fashion lasted only for a while though.

Only after the early 20th century, sandals started to emerge again. Sandals became part of the beach outfit. Women were wearing loose-fitting pantsuits and they paired them with low-heeled sandals. Soon after that, the sandals took over the daily life. People started to wear them on the dance floor or even under long evening gowns. By the end of the 1930’s a pair of ancient Greek sandals was considered to be a necessity for every fashionable person. The shoe clearly gained popularity due to the fact that it could be worn with every style one could have and also for various of events.

Ancient Greek sandals in Fashion

In the 1960’s the ancient Greek sandals gained more popularity. As at that point mini skirts were the ultimate fashion trend, women loved to show off their legs with a skirt and a pair of sandals. To this day, many famous designers have implemented to their collections, the classic ancient Greek sandal. To name a few: Paco Rabanne in 1968, Gianni Versace in the early 90’s and of course Calvin Klein at his collection of the new millennium.

Do you wish to have your own ancient Greek sandal? Order now your favorite pair of handmade leather Greek sandals from our website. Pagonis Family proudly represents the Greek culture of shoemaking and embodies the love of the Greeks for elegant and comfortable sandals. You can also purchase your own original Greek sandal.