May 06, 2011

Ask The Vixen: Shoe History

We get a lot of inquiries that help people date the vintage clothing they collect. Here's a recent question about determining the age of vintage shoes:

Q: Could you tell me when soles became primarily rubber instead of leather?
Thanks in advance for your answer.

A: Thanks for your note. Shoe soles are either rubber, leather or a plastic-like synthetic depending on its intended use and quality, though synthetic soles did become more common in the 1960s. Rubber soles have been in existence for about 150 years, and were often used for waterproof or athletic shoes. Rubber soles were most commonly seen in this century in athletic wear like 1950s & 60s sneakers, though we also see vintage sport shoes with rubber soles from the 1920s & 30s (think Converse high tops). Leather-soled shoes are still made in couture and designer collections (as well as custom orders of handmade shoes) today.

Also be sure to check our vintage shoes buying guide for in-depth info about how to pick the cream of the footwear crop!

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