is a footwear encyclopedia that provides a range of articles relating relating to footwear:

  • Anatomy of the shoe
  • Styles and types of footwear
  • History of the shoe
  • Shoe brands and companies
  • Influential people within the shoe industry

ShoeGuide.Org is continually growing. We are constantly adding to our collection of articles but also adding content to our current articles.

Wellington Boot

Wellington BootThe Wellington is a type of boot that developed from the Hessian boot in the Nineteenth century. Wellington boots usually made from rubber and a result are waterproof, making them suitable for wet and muddy conditions. The style of boot takes its name from the Duke of Wellington who wore and popularised the Wellington. It is referred to by several other names: welly, wellie, gumboot, and rubber boot.

The Wellington was born in 1817 as a result of men’s fashion moving towards trousers from knee breaches. The Hessian was the popular boot that was worn with knee breaches, however it was unsuitable for the increasingly popular trouser due to its curvy turned-down top and heavy metallic braid. The first Duke of Wellington, instructed his shoemaker modify the Hessian boot to suit trousers. The shoemaker created a boot with a soft calfskin leather with the trim removed and was designed so that it fit closer around the leg. The heels were low cut, stacked around an inch, and stopped at mid-calf. It was hard wearing for battle yet comfortable for the evening.

Although it is certainly true that the Duke of Wellington was among the first to wear Wellington boots, it is more likely that the idea that he invented the boot was a clever marketing tool invented by the boot makers who were keen to cash in on the hero of the Battle of Waterloo (1815).

The boots with their heroic association quickly caught on with the upper classes and were the main fashion for men in the 1840’s. It was in the 1850’s that the familiar rubber Wellington was invented. Charles Goodyear had invented the vulcanization process for natural rubber. Various companies bought the rights to produce footwear based on this process, and the rubber ‘Welly’ was born.


wadersWaders refers to a waterproof boot extending from the foot to the chest, traditionally made from vulcanised rubber, but available in more modern PVC, neoprene and Gore-Tex variants. Waders are generally distinguished from counterpart waterproof boots by shaft height; the hip boot extending to the thigh and the Wellington boot to the knee. They are therefore sometimes referred to as Chest Waders for emphasis.

Waders have a wide range of applications. Regarding leisure purposes, they are worn whilst angling, water gardening and off-road riding of All-terrain vehicles. Industrially, heavy-duty waders are used by predominantly in the chemical industry, agriculture and in the maintenance of water supply, sewerage and other utilities. Waders are frequently worn by pastors during baptism and have an important emergency application during flooding.


Trainers are the British term for athletic footwear, that are also known as sneakers and runners in other countries.


Timberland BootTimberland is a manufacturer of footwear and is particularly well known for its waterproof boots. It was one of the first companies to using injection moulding in footwear and they used this to fuse the sole to the leather upper without stitching, that created a very waterproof boot.

In 1918 in the USA, Nathan Swartz began his boot-making career as an apprentice stitcher. He made boots for a number of years and the in 1952 he bought a 50% share in The Abington Shoe Company. Three years later, he bought the remaining share. Together with his sons they made shoes for other manufacturers for around 10 years. In the 1960s, the Swartz family introduced injection-moulding technology, which they used fused the sole to a leather upper without stitching, creating a truly waterproof boot.

The Timberland Company didn’t take its current name until the 1970’s. It originated from the Timberland Brand that the company created to market its waterproof leather boot. Due to the success of the boot the company officially changed its name to The Timberland Company. The 1980s saw rapid expansion for the company with the Timberland brand extending internationally.

Thigh-High Boot

Thigh High BootThigh-length boots are boots that rise to a level at some distance above the knee. They were originally associated with the fetish footwear, but since 2003 they have become a more mainstream fashion. However, these boots still draw on the fetish origins of the thigh-high boot.

In its fetish form the boot is usually made from latex, leather, lycra, spandex, or vinyl (PVC). Depending on the material thigh-high boots have different methods for putting them on. Leather and other stiffer materials need a zip in order for the wearer to fit their leg inside the boot. Stretchy material enables the wearer to squeeze into them without the aid of a zip.

The Origins of Shoe Use

Iceman shoeIt is probable that the first shoes were worn by ancient man in the Ice Age, around 500,000 years ago, out of necessity to protect against the harsh climate. Historians hypothesise that indeed footwear must have been necessary to deal with the conditions. However, protective footwear similar to the modern-day shoe is considered to be a much later development.

It has been difficult for archaeologists to determine exactly when humans stopped going barefoot, however, because the plant and animal materials used to make prehistoric shoes is highly perishable. However, scientists have suggested that strong protective first came into widespread use between 40,000 and 26,000 years ago. These dates were established by examining the foot bones of early modern humans from 10,000 to 100,000 years ago. Humans from 100,000 to 40,000 years ago have stronger and thicker small toes that those of around 26,000 years ago. It is suggested that due to the support that sturdy footwear provides the extra grip that small toes provide are less important, and as a result people developed weaker little toes.

Currently, the earliest use of shoes that hard evidence supports is the end of the Upper Palaeolithic period, and the end of the last Ice Age, around 10,000 years ago. Ancient paintings in caves located in Spain and in the south of France clearly depict people wearing shoes. Further supporting evidence exists in the form of tools constructed from rock found in these caves that were designed to scrape the animal skins that would have been used as part of the process of tanning. This tanned leather could easily have been used to construct shoes. The oldest shoes that have bee discovered are around 9,000 years old that were discovered in California. Shoes from about 5,000 years ago were found on a preserved “Ice Man” that was discovered in the French Alps.

Stiletto Heel

Stiletto Heeled ShoeThe stiletto heel refers to a long, thin, and pointed heel found on some boots and shoes for women. It takes its name from the stiletto dagger (a small dagger with a narrow tapering blade). Stiletto heels may vary in length from only a few centimetres up to 15 cm, and are sometimes defined as having a diameter at the ground of less than 1 cm.

In the 1940s fashion was moving towards a more accentuated heel for women’s shoes, and this developed into stiletto heel in the 1950’s.

Athletic Footwear

Athletic FootwearIntroduction
Sports footwear refers to any item of footwear that is intended for sports use, but it can also refer to footwear that is sporty in style but not actually intended for sports use.

Sports footwear has various names, some unique to certain countries, some common terms are as follows: sport shoes, running shoes, gym shoes, tennis shoes, sneakers (America), kicks (America), trainers (Britain), runners (Canada), takkies (South Africa) sandshoes (Australia).

History of Sports Footwear
The origins of the sports shoe can be traced to canvas and rubber-soled lightweight croquet shoes, that were produced by New Liverpool Company (UK). At about the same time similar products were being developed in America that became known as the sneaker.

The 1970s saw an explosion in the sports shoe industry instigated by emerging competitive companies such as Nike, Reebok, and Adidas. Unlike more established companies these upstarts updated their footwear on an annual basis, and produced footwear tailed for particular sports. These new companies were succeeded using new materials, clever advertising, and cheaper offshore production. This era saw sports footwear transformed from a functional product, to a desired and fashionable product.

The 1980s and 1990s saw marketing budgets explode in an era of globalization. Nike’s budget exploded from $19,000,000 to nearly $160,000 in just 8 years, helping push the Air products to become highly desired.

Casual Use
Sports shoes are very popular in the casual market, with shoes that are sporty in style, but not intended for sports use. The association with sports and therefore health and achievement have helped grow the popularity of casual sports footwear. Indeed, this has been extended by deals between sports companies and famous athletes to help promote their footwear. The American term sneakers and British term trainers are more commonly associated with the casual use of sports shoes.

Use in sports
In the Twentieth century advancements in manufacturing technology and the emergence of new materials saw the development of a magnificent array of niche sports footwear. This has resulted in just about every sport having dedicated footwear: football (soccer) boots, tennis shoes, running shoes, etc.
Global Brands
Umbro, Nike, Adidas, Dunlop, Reebok, New Balance, Converse, K-Swiss, PUMA, Shaq, Brooks.


The sole refers to the entire part of the shoe that sites below the wearers foot. It is usually constructed of several layers:

The insole is the part of the sole that sits directly beneath the wearers foot. Its purpose is to provide a comfortable layer above the joining of the upper to the sole.

A mid-sole can be found on some shoes, and is a layer between the in-sole and the out-sole.

The outsole is the layer of sole that is exposed to the ground. Due to the amount of wear and stress this part of the shoe receives it is usually made of a very durable material. It is also important that it provides enough friction with the floor to prevent the wearer from slipping.


snowshoeSnowshoes (or webs) are footwear designed for walking over snow. They are designed to distribute the weight of the wearer over a larger area; This decreases the pressure under the shoe and therefore prevents the wearer from sinking into the snow.

A snowshoe is constructed from a light frame of wood or aluminum that is strung and attached to the shoe. Traditionally, they were made out of wood in a shape similar to a large tennis racket, and this is indeed how many people still think of the showshoe. However, very people use this traditional style of snowshoe, but use more symmetrical snowsnows constructed from metal and synthetic materials.

Snowshoes were originally worn by Indians and Eskimos in the wintry northern areas of North America. They are now mainly used in a recreational capacity and by hunters, farmers, trappers, and lumberjacks.