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The History of Platform Shoes

Platform shoes date all the way back to the ancient world when Greek actors would wear leather-and-cork platform sandals (cothurnus). In the Middle East circa the 1300s, platform shoes were worn in public bathhouses to protect feet from heated and wet floors. During the Middle Ages, nobility and peasants alike wore elevated wooden shoes designed to keep them above the muck on the streets. The Italian nobility wore extravagantly tall, ornate overshoes (called chopines) in the 1400s, and the trend later moved over to France, too, where it became very popular. The Peking Opera players in China wore silk platform boots in the 1700s — the higher shoes were given to the more important players. (This shoe-based hierarchy was also part of Greek plays in ancient times.) The first instance of the modern platform shoe in the West dates to the 1930s, when Salvatore Ferragamo debuted his famous rainbow-heeled cork sandal. When disco took over in the 1970s, both men and women began to wear high-heeled platform shoes, which were often very elaborate. The platform shoe made another comeback in the 1990s — introduced at a Vivienne Westwood show, the shoes were then popularized by the Spice Girls. In the 2010s, 'flatforms' became a trend. And of course, the platform pump has been a style staple over the last few decades. Today, the platform shoe continues to be a popular footwear choice.

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