Shoes Through the Ages

  1. The Shoebacca Awards 2014

    This weekend is the 87th Annual Academy Awards. Nominees for The Oscars were announced earlier this year and will be awarded on Sunday, February 22nd. Jumping in on the award show weekend, Shoebacca would like to present our Inaugural Shoe Oscars!

    We'll be presenting you not only best in shoe, but also in brand and in each gender. On top of that, we'll also present best in category, totaling the 18 most honored shoes of 2014. Don't worry, though - We understand that just because a shoe won a category doesn't mean it'll also win your heart. That's why we'll be presenting runners-up as well.

    Let's start with Categorial Honors:

    First Up Is Athletic. The Honor of Best of Athletic Shoes goes to the Puma Sky Wedge GC. Puma took their classic sneaker style and gave it an elevated silhouette, hiding a wedge heel inside a textured leather body. Gold color and chevron patterning are sure to catch attention and turn heads. Perfect for the athletic woman who keeps her game on point both on and off the court.

    Next is Oxford. The winner of this category is a very unique shoe, as Oxfords are typically shoes with closed lacing. Closed lacing means that once the shoe is fully laced, the tongue is hidden, closing the vamp (or the upper area of the shoe, not including the tongue.) The Honor of Best of Oxford Shoes goes to the Puma El Rey Lite, an Oxford made from linen that features an eyelet-less vamp. More closely related to Slip-ons, as the tongue is entirely missing, this shoe offers laceless stability through a stretch over-strap.

    The Third Category we'll be awarding is Boots. The Honor of Best In Boots goes to a surprising upstart: DVS Westridge Hiking Boot. This hiking boot draws a lot of inspiration from DVS's specialty: Skate Culture. A thick rubber sole and rubber toe are typical of hiking boots, but the body offers thick padding and a wide tongue as seen in most skate shoes. A hybrid that can be used on and off the skateboard, regardless of the weather or terrain.

    Fourth up is the Sandals. An appropriate category to explore as Summer will be here sooner than you think. The Honor of Best of Sandals goes to Sharon by G.H. Bass. G.H. Bass has been making shoes since the turn of the 20ths Century, known for making the world's first penny loafers. Each shoe produced is still bench crafted and hand switched, breaking the idiom that "They don't make 'em like they used to."

    Following Sandals is a heavily-feminine category: Flats. In fact, we only have no Mens Flats, so it's safe to assume the winner is a Womens shoe. The Honor of Best in Flats goes to the Puma Kitara Toe Cap. The wisdom and experience of industry big-wig Puma shows that they understand what shoe lovers want: a good looking shoe that fits well. This flexible flat not only looks classy but is also super comfy!

    Halfway through the categorial awards is Boat Shoes. Boat shoes are, in appearance, very similar to bot oxfords and loafers,but are typically characterized by a non-slip rubber sole and water-proof material - perfect for use on boats! The Honor of Best goes to Sebago Clovehitch. The body of this handsome shoe is created with a hybrid of wather-resistant leather for sturdiness and a Dri-Lex mesh to promote drying and water drainage.

    Next up is Slippers. An understated category that almost everyone can appreciate and enjoy. The Honor of Best of Slippers is L.B. Evans Aristocrat Scuff. The classic slipper style has found no better poster child. A solid, cushioned sole with a front-half cover, all wrapped in a soft leather.

    Clogs & Mules follow slippers. Both are typically characterized by the full front-foot cover, though mules tend to have a distinct, separate heel versus the wedged or connected of a clog. The Honor of Best Of Clogs & Mules goes to the Puma Leap Slip-on. A casual men's slip on that has massaging circles carved from the inner sole, perfect for relaxng after strenuous activities, like a long day at work or an intense game.

    Loafers & Slip-Ons is the next category to award. The Honor of Best of Loafers & Slip-Ons is Puma Ansbach Slip-On. The rubber sole provides a decent amount of tracking and protects against moisture to a certain amount. A simple and versatile canvas shoe that you can dress up or dress down and stay comfortable the whole time.

    Last but not Least is Best of Heels & Pumps. The Honor goes to the Puma Sky Wedge Original. Much like the Puma Sky Wedge GC, but more dressed down. Lacking the show-stopping chevron and gold pleather, this hidden-heal-and-sneaker hybrid is on the cutting edge of fashion, but still sports the iconic wave emblem - FormStripe - that most Puma shoes feature.

    We've covered the best of each category, regardless of gender. Now let's take a look at what men and women preferred in 2014.

    Starting with our gents, we have our Best Men's Shoe - Puma Ferrari Drift Cat 5. Line any Puma, the FormStripe is present in a striking black, cutting the yellow body in two. Towards the toe, the iconic Puma logo is present, while the Ferrari shielf is embossed toward the heel.

    Next is our Best Supporting Men's Shoe (read second best men's shoe) - DVS Yodeler. There's no singing required to enjoy this leather hiking boot - but feel free to belt your heart out from atop some misty mountain cold. Regardless of what you do or where you'll go, you'll do it in style with this boot.

    Let's not forget our leading ladies, though! The Best Women's Shoe for 2014 is the Puma Faas 500. A comfortable training sneaker with neutral pronation support. With a white body, clear overlay FormStrip, and splashes of bright color on the thick sole, it's no surprise this was the best seller! Classy, tasteful, but still fun and playful!

    The Best Supporting Women's Shoe is the Reebok Premier Road Supreme. With a darker body of silver and grey materials accented singularly by hues of violent, this running shoe feels like a more serious training sneaker than the Puma Faas 500. It's strengthened arch and inner-foot support are great for any pronator out there.

    It seems that regardless of gender or age that Puma is a fan favorite! After sweeping first among men and women, the Best Kid's Shoe for 2014 was the Puma Tune Cat NBK. It's an easy-on, easy-off shoe for kids of all ages - no shoe-tying required with the cross-velcro straps. This shoe is light-weight with a neutral gray-scheme body and accents of red.

    Best Supporting Kid's Shoe is the Timberland Mad River 2-Strap. A cute little velcro-strap sandal for toddlers, it comes in 4 colors and a wide variety of sizes to fit either your little man or you little lady - or body!

    As Evident from it's landslide popularity - sweeping 5 of 10 categories and winning Best in Mens, Womens, and Kids - it comes as no suprise to anyone that the Best Selling Brand of 2014 is Puma. Puma, sister company to adidas, is an old brand that dates back to the end of World War 2. It ranked as the 4th most popular shoe brand globally in 2012, following Reebok, Adidas, and Nike. We guarantee that someone you know owns at least one pair of Pumas, and we feel that you should too! With a selection of over 800 shoes, we know we've got a Puma for you!

    Best Supporting Brand of 2014 is DVS. DVS Shoes is a young shoe company that deals predominantly with Skateboarding. Founded in 1995 by a group of 4 guy in Califnornia, a lot of the company's direction focused around skatebaording and other popular related sports, like Motocross and Snowboarding. After a little financial trouble in 2012, the company went through a rebirth, expanding its sponsorships and coming under new ownership. DVS has not lost sight of its target audience and still remains popular within skate culture.

    And without further ado, we have come to our two final awards: Second Best in Show and Best in Show - or should I say, Best in Shoe? The Second Best Selling Shoe of 2014 is the DVS Tracker Heir. A dark bodied skate shoe with a lot of sole and even more attitude.

    Now for the Best in Shoe of 2014 is... *drum roll* DVS Havoc! While this shoe comes in two color varieties, the most popular color schema was the split body black and white skate shoe. The black half of the shoe features both plain and textured leather, the white half sports the Classic American Double Pinstripe as seen on baseball jerseys.

    Thank you for attending our first ever Shoebacca Awards. We hope you've enjoyed yourselves and will continue to find your solemates with us here at Shoebacca. Have a wonderful 2015 and don't forget to tune into The Oscars this Sunday!

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  2. History of the Western Boot

    The boot has a long history reaching back to the dawn of the Common Era. Sandals and rudimentary shoes, along with greaves, were often worn into battle. It only makes sense to integrate them into a single piece of footwear - the ancestor to our modern boot. Fast forward about 16 centuries and we see the predecessor to the modern boot we know and love. English Cavaliers (horse-mounted soldiers) wore a riding boot with high shafts, pointed toes, and heels. Footwear of this nature spread across Europe as they were popular among mounted cavalrymen.

    These early iterations of the modern boot had a fairly high heel that measured in at 2 inches, on average. A high heel was often associated with nobility, as the boot made its way into civilian life. Fashion heels began to take over and steadily increased in height - some reached over 3 inches! The late 1700s reimagined the boot, thanks to Arthur Wellsley. The First Duke of Wellington's claim to fame was his defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. This jettisoned not just him, but also his boots, into widespread popularity. Wellsley's boot, The Wellington Boot, is a pinpoint predecessor to the modern Western boot: The shafts were shortened to calf height (vs. the Cavalier's thigh-highs) as were the heels, and their construction mirrors the modern western boot - 4 pieces consisting of the vamp (top foot cover), the counter (heel cover), and front & back tops (shaft).

    A few short centuries later, there was an increased exodus to the New World - not just of people, but also lifestyle and clothing. The boot of the old world crossed an ocean and began its journey into the modern era. Heeled boots remained a staple to American militia and military from the Revolution into the Civil War. The reunited nation saw a mass movement of its own. The population moved westward, with many active duty veterans serving their country as Frontiermen. Unfortunately, though, the military-grade boots they brought with them were no match for the unbridled intensity of the West: flurries by night, beating sun by day, cyclones here and gone in the blink of an eye.

    As people continued to move westward, and boots continued to fall apart, the demand for a better boot grew. Shoemakers and cobblers flourished. Working with the existing Wellington, they began to develop a variety of boot styles. From shaft heights, to sole shapes, to materials used, until the Western boot as we know it began to emerge. In fact, some craftsmen went back to the shoe and introduced laces to the evolving boot (though this is an offshoot of the western boot itself).

    The military, never one to be left behind by innovation, also updated their standard-issue boot. Much of the look and style remained the same, however the shaft pieces (front and back) were combined into a single canvas-like piece that was joined in a seam along the back of the leg. The "three-piece boot" (Hollywood- or Tejas-style boot) became popular amongst civilians and soldiers at the dawn of the 20th century and maintained popularity past the First World War.

    With the advent of cinema and film, the romanticized cowboy was born, and demand for the Western boot grew still, thanks to movie-greats like Gene Autry and Roy Rogers. Boots maintained their utility but also became fashion pieces, with intricate designs becoming easily applied thanks to the large, single shaft-piece. Industrialization also pushed the boot into becoming a household item. Mass production, as well as access to new materials like rubber and synthetic leathers, made boots readily available to all walks of life, from white collar to blue collar.

    But, as fashion fades, so does the popularity of certain styles. Wide-spread popularity of the Western Boot tapered off mid-20th century, coinciding with the introducing of the sneaker. Boots remained popular with industry workers, but the Western boot itself didn't see a resurgence of popularity until the start of the 2000s. The modern Western boot has stood the test of time, not only in its history, but also in its century-old construction.

    For More information, we recommend this article as well as the Wikipedia article.

    For a pair of your own, we recommend our selection of high-quality Western Boots.

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  3. Shoes Through the Ages: Lacoste and the Logo

    While the Nike swoop might be considered the most recognizable brand logo, there is probably one burned even further in the public consciousness that you don't realize is even a logo. That little Crocodile (not to be confused with an Alligator) you see on shirts everywhere was first put there by Rene Lacoste in the 1930's.

    One of the first to put a logo on their clothing (Only a swimsuit company claims that distinction earlier), Lacoste started as many sports clothing lines do, with an athlete. Rene Lacoste was one of The Four Musketeers, tearing up the court in the 1920's and 1930's. Originally focusing on changing sportswear for tennis, it quickly became popular in other sports, and we all now know them as Polo shirts. Lacoste has expanded into many things over the years, from its Challenge fragrance for men (currently faced by Hayden Christensen) through pants, and to our personal favorite, shoes! While Lacoste obviously focuses on tennis shoes (So ubiquitous now, its not a sport type, its just the basic shoe type!) they have a little of everything. From their Lacoste SHERBROOKE 9 with its simple and traditional dress shoe style to casual boots Lacoste brings you 'un peu d'air sur terre' (A litte air on Earth) when nothing but the original will quite do.
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