How Footwear Reflects Community and Culture - COMUNITYmade


How Footwear Reflects Community and Culture

How Footwear Reflects Community and Culture

by Shannon Scott January 11, 2024

Footwear, an essential part of human attire, has journeyed with us through the sands of time, echoing tales of civilizations, cultures, and communities. From the earliest sandals carved out of natural materials to the modern-day stilettos and designer shoes gracing fashion runways, shoes have always been more than just protective coverings for our feet. They have served as markers of identity, indicators of social class, and symbols of regional belonging, weaving stories of our shared human experience.

Historical Implication of Shoes

The history of footwear is as diverse and intricate as the tapestry of human civilization itself. Here are a few examples.

Ancient Civilizations

EGYPT — The arid deserts of ancient Egypt saw the birth of sandals made from palm leaves and papyrus. These were not just functional but also carried symbols and designs indicating the wearer's status and social class.

GREECE — The Greeks had a shoe for every occasion. From the simple sandals worn by citizens to the intricately designed Talaria of Hermes, footwear was a reflection of one's role and status in society.

CHINA — In stark contrast to the West, China introduced the world to the painful tradition of foot binding, symbolized by the delicate and ornate Lotus shoes, representing beauty, status, and identity markers.

Medieval and Renaissance Europe

As Europe transitioned from the medieval period to the Renaissance, shoes underwent a major transformation. Pointed shoes, known as poulaines, became the rage among the elite, symbolizing status, affluence, and regional belonging. The aristocracy, in their quest for distinction, also embraced the high heel, setting a trend that would endure for centuries.

Native American Tribes

Across the Atlantic, the indigenous tribes of North America crafted moccasins made from soft leather. These weren't just daily wear but held spiritual significance, often adorned with beads and symbols for tribal ceremonies, reflecting their culture and community.

Shoes as Markers of Identity

Throughout history, shoes have been more than just a fashion statement or mere footwear. They've been emblematic of one's place in the world, serving as identity markers.

Social Class

The divide between the elite and the commoners was often evident in their choice of footwear. While the rich flaunted shoes made of luxury materials adorned with jewels and intricate designs, the working class settled for functional, durable footwear suited for labor and long hours.

Regional Belonging

Just as accents and dialects can give away one's origins, so can shoes. The espadrilles, with their jute sole, speak of the sunny coasts of Spain. The wooden clogs, or 'klompen', resonate with the tulip-filled landscapes of the Netherlands. And the handcrafted Kolhapuri chappals, with their intricate designs, tell tales of India's rich artisanal heritage.

As we tread further into this journey, we'll see how modern footwear companies, like COMUNITYmade, are redefining the narrative, blending style with cultural significance and sustainable footwear practices. But for now, let's pause and appreciate the stories our shoes, our storytellers, have been telling for millennia.

Modern Footwear Companies: Bridging Style and Cultural Significance

In today's globalized world, where fashion trends change at the speed of light, there are companies that stand out by weaving tradition into their modern designs, ensuring that the stories of our ancestors are not lost in the whirlwind of fast fashion.

Contributions from COMUNITYmade

Enter COMUNITYmade, a footwear company with a mission that goes beyond style. Rooted in the belief that every shoe has a story, COMUNITYmade is dedicated to crafting footwear that resonates with cultural significance and sustainable footwear practices.

Drawing inspiration from traditional designs, COMUNITYmade collaborates with local artisans and communities to bring age-old patterns and techniques into contemporary footwear. For instance, the Traction model features embroidery inspired by Native American moccasins that seamlessly blends the spiritual essence of tribal ceremonies with the comfort demands of the modern world. Furthermore, their commitment to sustainable practices ensures that while they borrow from the past, they also protect the future.

But it's not just about design. COMUNITYmade's initiatives extend to supporting local communities, ensuring that every purchase contributes back, making the bond between the wearer and the maker even more special.

The Rise of Ethical and Culturally Conscious Footwear

COMUNITYmade is at the forefront of a larger movement. Across the globe, companies are realizing the importance of ethical and culturally conscious footwear. By embracing traditions and prioritizing sustainability, they're ensuring that our feet tread lightly on the earth, even as they carry the weight of our rich histories.

Shoes as Storytellers

As we come to the end of this journey through the world of footwear, it's evident that shoes are more than just accessories. They are storytellers, narrating tales of battles won, of love lost, of communities formed, and of traditions passed down through generations. Every stitch, every bead, every pattern holds within it a piece of our shared human legacy.

In a world increasingly dominated by fleeting trends, it's heartening to see companies like COMUNITYmade championing the cause of meaningful fashion. As consumers, it's our responsibility to recognize and respect the stories behind our choices. Because, in the end, shoes are not just about fashion. They are a testament to our diverse histories, our shared values, and our collective journey forward.

So, the next time you slip into a pair of shoes, custom sneakers, or designer shoes, take a moment to ponder the tales they tell. For in them lies the essence of who we are and where we come from.

Shannon Scott
Shannon Scott


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Find Your Perfect Size

We want to help make sure that your new shoes have the best fit possible.  

We have created a separate fit for men and women to provide the ultimate foot hugging comfort.  Our sockliner and upper materials will naturally mold to your foot and stretch out after a short period of time, so do allow for this when trying our shoes on initially.


 In general, our shoes are running closer to an everyday shoe fit vs. an athletic shoe fit and can be worn with or without socks - but the socks have to be eye catching for best results.


Any variances from this chart will be noted on each individual product page.