Good historical shoes do not need to be custom made or high-priced! Although modern shoe sizes are always standardized, there is a fitting standard shoe size for virtually every foot.
If the shoe fits...
When we talk about historical shoes it is important to keep in mind that the price of an average pair of shoes cost approx. 600 euros during the Middle Ages. In most cases shoes were re-used over and over again and hardly anyone wore shoes that fitted perfectly. Shoes were often adjusted by widening shoe tongues and heels. As a result the shoe nearly fitted the wearer, but never perfectly. People could also wear thick stockings to adjust their feet to the shoe size instead of adjusting parts of the shoe, this was a way to save money. For the average medieval person shoes were a high expense, especially if we look at the distances that were walked in those days.
|1, schoenen, zoals ze nieuw aan-
A lot of shoes (but certainly not all) were provided with shoe nails that considerably lengthened the usability of the shoes. When using shoe nails we advise to use an inner sole when the shoes become older. With nails the soles will also wear in the course of time, as a result of which the nails will press into the sole after a couple of years. In medieval cities, where the streets were often far from clean, pattens were worn to protect the valuable shoes from dirt. Pattens also ensured that the shoes wore less quickly. In the classical period this was not necessary because there was sewerage and pavement was used.
Our shoes are stitched with the sewing machine, but based on historical patterns. Such proportional stitches were historically only used for more expensive shoes, this also lengthens the usability and prevents holes. By the way, our shoes can just as easily be repaired or adjusted as historical shoes, only most of the modern people are not used to repair worn shoes and keep wearing them.
Historical and modern historical shoes
|2, shoes after two weeks of use
Most of our shoes are made in the way that they can endure about the same hardships as historical shoes. As a result they are suitable for intensive use. The soles are made of hardened leather and it is possible to cover the soles with shoe nails. The soles are made somewhat thicker than historical soles (for a longer usage), but it is important to keep in mind that excavated historical shoes always contained a sole that was used for a longer period of time. Always keep in mind that modern shoes provide much more support to the ankle than historical models, of course the footwear back then was still centuries back in development.
Shoes were adjusted in several ways, they had different colours and were sometimes even provided with golden decorations as can be seen for example on the pair excavated at the Hallstatt grave in Hochdorf. You can adjust your shoes yourself in several ways, on this page you will find several tips how to do this.
|3,Shoes coloured with natural oil|
Most of our shoes are delivered in brown dyed leather. These shoes can easily be dyed with leather paint or coloured shoe polish. Leather paint is more permanent than shoe polish, but both have to be maintained frequently and retouched. Usually only the higher classes of society could afford coloured shoes.
As seen above some shoes were provided with golden or silver decorations. Of course only the richest people of society could afford shoes like this. Lower classes could decorate their shoes by making coloured stitches on the edges of their shoes. Shoes could, just like bags, be imprinted or engraved (shoes like these have just seldom been excavated). Most of the shoes that were excavated show no trace of decoration.
|4, Edges can easily be decorated|
Just like all leather products it is important to let the shoes dry after use. Besides we recommend to frequently treat shoes with beeswax leather care and to clean them with leather cleaner.
Wax & balm
Leather cares for itself by its natural fat. Wax or balm can stimulate this natural process. The wax impregnates the pores deeply, gives it a deep glow and mends it, so that the leather lasts longer. Wax makes the leather water tight. It is important to repeat the process of waxing or balming regularly.
Over all it is best to treat the leather once in half a year. Extensive treatment causes the leather to be thinner and therefore weaker. As wax and balm are in the pores, it will take some time before the leather is dry again. Shoes may need treatment more often as they are more extensively used.
Besides shoes can easily be darkened by treating them with olive oil (or other oils and greases) and leaving it on the shoe for some time until it is completely absorbed. Uneven spots in the leather can be evened by the oil and meanwhile the oil treats the leather.