Clogs are a type of footwear made
in part or completely from wood. Clogs are
used worldwide and although the form may vary by culture, within a culture the
form often remained unchanged for centuries. The Oxford English Dictionary
defines a clog as a "thick piece of wood", and later as a "wooden soled
overshoe" and a "shoe with a thick wooden sole".
It is important to note that not all clogs look like the
traditional wooden clogs that you may be picturing in your mind from Sweeden.
They are not simply folkloric footwear.
Are all clogs the same?
NO they are not. Old fashion clogs, are generally
thought of as all wood clogs that cover the entire foot. However, there is
now a more modern version that is often just “partially" wood.
The modern day
Swedish clogs (wooden
bottom and leather top) can still be seen as a trendy fashion item from time to
time. You will have to check with the fashion magazines to see if they are
in style this year or not. Clogs are often used now as ladies’ high-heeled
Different types of clogs:
As mentioned above, the history
of the world has witnessed various types of clogs. They are not all the
old fashion all wood clog.
Wooden upper clogs;
are made by hollowing out a lump of solid wood to make a combined upper and
Two main variants can be seen:
whole foot clogs;
where the wooden upper covers the whole of the foot to near the ankle, such as
the familiar Dutch klomp.
They are also known as "wooden shoes". Whole foot clogs can give sufficient
protection to be used as safety footwear without additional reinforcements.
However, in modern times, you may want to go with a steal toed boot if you
really need a significant amount of protection.
half open clogs;
is when the wooden upper extends over the toes or slightly further, such as the
Italian "zoccolo" or Belgian sabots. The upper is similar in outline to a court
shoe. Half open clogs may have additional covering or securing straps in some
sort of fabric or leather. This type of shoe does not offer as much
protection as the whole foot clogs.
Wooden soled clogs;
use wood for the sole only. This would be the more common type if you were
shopping for fashion clogs. Wooden soled clogs come with a variety of
uppers: complete uppers made from leather or similar material, such as English
clogs. For more protection, they may have steel toecaps and/or steel
reinforcing inserts in the undersides of the soles.
are wooden soles with straps designed to be worn over other footwear for
protection, commonly known as pattens. Patten
style clogs are rarely (almost never) worn in
modern times. Some medieval pattens were in two pieces, heel through to ball
and ball to toes. Joining the two was a leather strip forming a hinge,
thus allowing the shoe above to flex. A derivative of a pattens are
word galoshes comes through French and Latin from Greek and originally meant a
shoemaker's last; literally "wood" + "foot". By the 14 C it had been
transferred to English style clogs, that is those with a wooden sole and fabric
(e.g. leather) upper. By 1572 the term also applied to "a Gallage or
Patten", that is an overshoe with a shaped wooden base to raise the wearer's
good shoes off the ground. Over time galoshes took on a newer meaning.
A more current explanation is that galoshes (from French: galoches), also known
as dickersons or overshoes, are a type of rubber boot that is slipped over shoes
to keep them from getting muddy or wet. The word galoshes might be used
interchangeably with boot, especially a rubberized boot. Properly speaking,
however, a galosh is an overshoe made of a weatherproof material to protect a
more vulnerable shoe underneath and keep the foot warm and dry.
Some overshoes look more like whole foot clogs, like
Spanish albarca, whilst other wooden soled clogs raise and protect clothing in
the way that overshoes do, such as Japanese geta.
Why would anyone wear clogs?
Traditional clogs remain in use as protective footwear in
agriculture and in some factories and mines. Clogs are also used in several
different styles of dance. When worn for dancing an important feature is the
sound of the clog against the floor. This is one of the fundamental roots of
tap dancing, but with the tap shoes the taps are free to click against each
other and produce different sound to the sound made by a pair of clogs.
In addition to the functional uses of this type of shoe,
they are also worn simply for style.
In the 1970s and 1980s, Swedish clogs became popular
fashion accessories for men & women. They were usually worn without socks and
were considered suitable attire for the avant-garde man.
In the 1980s and 1990s clogs based on Swedish clogs
returned in fashion for women. Platform clogs or sandals, often raised as high
as 6 or even 8 inches right through between sole and insole, were worn in many
western countries. The large mid layer was often made of solid cork, although
some were merely of plastic with a cork covering. The sole, more often than
not, was made of a light sandy-colored rubber. Some of the platforms of these
clogs were encompassed about with a string-laced effect.
In 2007 Dutch designers Viktor & Rolf introduced high
heeled Dutch clogs on the catwalk, with their winter collection of 2007/08. In
2010, Swedish clogs for women returned again in Chanel's and Louis Vuitton's
Spring / Summer 2010 collection.
Above are only a few of the examples how designers and trends have been
effected by this type of footwear.
How do clogs stay on feet without falling off?
The type of upper determines how
the clogs are worn. Whole foot clogs need to be close fitting and can be secured
by curling the toes. In contrast wooden soled clogs are fastened by laces or
buckles on the welt and therefore the toes are relaxed as in shoes. Half open
clogs may either be secured like whole foot clogs, or have an additional strap
over the top of the foot. Some
and in particular toe peg styles, are worn more like "flip-flops"
and rely on the grip between the big and next toe.
Being wood, clogs cannot flex
under the ball of the foot as softer shoes do. To allow the foot to roll
forward most clogs have the bottom of the toe curved up, known as the cast.
Some styles of clogs have "feet", such as Spanish
albarca. The clog
rotates around the front edge of the front "feet". Japanese and Indian clogs may
have "teeth" or very high pegs attached to the soles. The clog can rotate around
the front edge of the front "tooth" as the wearer strides forward.
What are the benefits to wearing wood shoes?
If you are going with an antique or finely crafted all
wood clog, you are getting a piece of history or craftsmanship that is very
unique. Think how nice it would be to wear a pair of shoes that had been
handcrafted from wood. Possibly, not the most comfortable, but the
understanding the craft would certainly bring some sort of emotional pleasure
(if you have a reverence for the arts, history, or fine workmanship).
Since wooden footwear was a hand-made product, the shape of the footwear, as
well as its production process showed great local and regional diversity in
style. At the beginning of the 20th century machine-made wooden footwear was
introduced. After WW2, in particular, wooden shoes disappeared from sight. They
were replaced by more fashionable all-leather and synthetic footwear. To
be honest, I generally like to wear a pair of sneakers rather than a whole wood
What is the difference between mules and clogs?
Some people refer to them as the same type of shoe.
The primary difference is the clogs generally have a sturdy wooden heel.
When mules arrived on the scene, they typically had a higher heel. Its not
an exact science, but some say that a closed-toe shoe that has a fancier heel
would be called a mule.
Is a clog & mule different than a slide?
Learn about other
If you enjoy this type of footwear, you may want to check
Alexander McQueen Embroidered Clog. That was a spectacular work of
art. You can see more
examples of clogs on the Fashion Blog.
Fashion Products A-F
Fashion Products C
performance fabrics in our fashion terms section.
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