It's hard to imagine, but shoes as we know them today first made their appearance on our planet between 1600 and 1200 BC. Since these were likely custom-made for rich folk, they already fit perfectly and didn't need to be adjustable, and lacked shoelaces. This raises the interesting questions of who invented shoelaces, when were shoelaces invented, and why?
In this article, we'll flesh out how tying shoes came to be by going right back to the beginning. Keep reading and discover the history of shoelaces.
When Were Shoelaces Invented?
Archeological evidence gives us two reasonable answers to this first question. The act of fastening laces appears at different points across time and the globe, with the oldest record we have to date being the Areni 1 shoe. This version of using laces to secure footwear differs immensely from our modern understanding of bunny ears and dragons going under bridges.
The version of shoelace technology we use is said to have proliferated in the late 18th or early 19th century. At that time, the shoelace with the aglet came to replace the more expensive, less practical buckles that were in vogue.
Who Invented Shoelaces?
The design of the modern shoelace is credited to a man named Harvey Kennedy. In his day, the act of lacing existed, but not in shoes. Ladies would often have corsets laced up under their expensive dresses to impress noblemen at court.
Applying this principle to boots and shoes, Kennedy noticed that he had to either use well-wrought rawhide strips to tie shoes (which would've been too expensive) or use little ropes that would eventually fray. But by using a small metal aglet (derived from the Latin and French words for 'needle') he made threading and protecting laces easier.
Many other alternatives to shoelaces popped up in human history. The shoelace we have today is just the best at combining reliability with affordability.
Roman sandals had one long strip of leather threaded through the shoe. Moccasins and clogs are old designs of shoes without laces. Buckles were also very popular but quite pricey.
Today we still have all these options, as well as straps, clamps, and no-tie laces. There are also many designs that use elastic surfaces and strings so that you don't have to tie the shoe.
Discover the Next-Generation Alternative
The history of shoelaces is filled with great and iconic inventions, but the beloved aglet lace has become the king of the hill in modern life. These became popular after their invention in the late 18th century. Between then and now they've grown to be the most popular option for keeping shoes on feet, beating out many shoelace alternatives.
Now that we've answered the questions "When were shoelaces invented" and "Who invented shoelaces", we must comment on the fact that shoelace development is still continuing today! U-laces are easy-to-use laces that you just fit into your shoes and you're done.