Platform shoes have a long history dating from the ancient times to the current form popular among the teens. While they are a fashion statement today, the first platforms worn in ancient Greece had autilitarianpurpose, particularly on stage. Like all fashion, platform shoes have been in vogue, disappeared then reappeared with modifications done to suit their market. This evolution is a continuous process that may not cease into the future.
The first platforms appeared in 220 B.C. in ancient Greece. These were largely used in theaters by actors. The first platforms were leather sandals with cork soles (see Fig. 1). The platforms were as tall as six inches, and the actor’s importance in the play usually dictated how high the platform would be. Thus, the more central to the play an actor was, the higher the platform, making it easier for the audience to see (Sancaktar, 2006).
Fig 1. Cothurnus platform shoes in 220 BC. Source: The web
In the 1300s, the kabkabs gained popularity,principally in the Middle East. These were wooden stilts with shell and ivory decorations. The platforms found use in public bathhouses as protection against the wet floors. They shoes got their name from the clapping sound made as people walked in them (See fig 2).
Fig 2. The kabkabs in the 1300s in the Middle East. Source web
In the 15 century, the Chopines became apopular fashion statement. Designed with as cork or wooden sole, Chopines provided protection from the irregular pavements as well as muddy streets. They were especially popular in Italy, France, Spain and England (See fig 3). The chopines were popular among the nobility and designed with jewels, while some were as tall as 30 inches, and required the wearer to use sticks for balance (Sancaktar, 2006).
Fig 3. The chopine in the 15th Century
Chopines lost their allure between 1600 and 1930. In the mid to late 1930s, the platform shoes reemerged thanks to some of the major shoe designers who included Salvatore Ferragamo, Andre Perugia and David Evins (Sancaktar, 2006). The three revolutionized the platform with eye-catching designs that change the nature and form of the platforms, which had now become popular among women (See fig 4).
Fig 4. The platform in the mid and late 1930s. SourceSancaktar
The disco era of the 1970s popularized platforms, as the shoes become a fashion statement as well as tools for seeking attention. They were popular among celebrities, particularly singers such as Elton John and David Bowie, who wore the platforms, making them, even more, popular (Steele, 1998). Both men and women wore the platforms in the 1970s as opposed to the previous years, where they were only popular among the women (See fig 5).
Fig 5. Elton John’s silver platforms in the 1970s.
The platforms made a comeback in the 90s. First among their appearance was on the runway. They were, however, popularized even more by the Spice Girls, an international group of all-girl singers. These were largely sneakers with platform soles (see fig 6).
Fig 6. 1990s platforms as popularized by Spice Girls
Today, platforms are a sensation among the modern women. The shoes, designed as fashionable pumps, are a must-have for the modern woman, with many wearing them to work. Today’s versions of high heels are different forms of the platform (see fig 7).
Fig 7. The modern platform
Platforms have transformed over the years from their utilitarian and status symbol to becoming a fashion staple for the modern woman. Today, elegance and sophistication are the selling point of the platforms. This will continue to influence future platforms, even as advances in technology will come into play to make the high heels, not only elegant but also more comfortable (see fig 8).
Fig 8. The future platforms fit with hydraulic heels. (Source: Dickson, 2014)
Dickson, E. J. (2014). These hydraulic high heels are comfortable ad actually look cool. Daily Dot. Retrieved from http://www.dailydot.com/technology/hydraulic-high-heels/
Sancaktar, Asli.(2006). An Analysis of Shoe within the Context of Social History of Fashion. Izmir Institute of Technology
Steele, V. (1998). Shoes, A Lexicon of Style. London: Co & Bear Productions