Thursday, April 27, 2017

10th century boots

A factor which frequently hampers shoe historians is the absence of evidence in archeological finds. More often than not, the feet (and hands) are missing, usually fallen prey to animal scavengers, or in the case of shoes, perished with time. Only where environmental factors allow, such as submerged in peat or unique cave conditions have early artefacts been preserved.

>br> When archaeologists in Mongolia stumbled across the remains of a 1,100-year-old mummy, they were surprised to see the corpse was still wearing footwear that was in remarkable condition. After a full restoration, at the Centre of Cultural Heritage of Mongolia, researchers were able to confirm the 10th century female cadaver was wearing felt knee high boots with soles of leather and the toecap made of stitched stripes in bright red colours.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

adidas UltraBoost sneakers made from ocean trash

Adidas’s latest project is to make trainers from ocean trash by the end of 2017. Each pair of UltraBoost sneakers will use an average of 11 plastic bottles. In partnership with environmental initiative Parley for the Oceans they released a limited-edition ocean plastic waste sneaker last year. Now they are about to release three new running shoes.

The shoes will not be made entirely out of ocean plastic. Recycled plastic will be mostly applied to the Primeknit portion of the shoe otherwise renewable materials will be used where possible.

Fetishism exposed

ABC News Science, scientific agony aunts Bernie Hobbs and Dr Alice Williamson explore the scientific basis for fetishism.

Fetishes: There's more to them than leather and kinky boots

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Reebok's compostable trainer

Later this year, Reebok will release their new eco friendly kicks and like many other companies sensitive to the environment they are determined not to damage the environment. The new range of Reebok sneaker is completely compostable and modelled after the “Classics’’ sneaker. The upper section is made of sustainable organic cotton, while the sole is derived from industrial grown corn. The new sneaker’s eyelets are stitched, rather than made of metal or plastic like some other shoes. According to Reebok the new compostable sneaker will appeal to Millennials and their younger counterparts who favour products and companies that are less damaging to the environment. The new sneaker will be priced comparably to Reebok’s Classics style, which generally ranges in price from $US 59.99 to $US 179.99. Ultimately, the company says that the goal is for the shoe to be the first in a long line of plant-based footwear.

Friday, April 21, 2017

The Northampton Museum the Concealed Shoe Index (CSI)

Have you ever been renovating and found something clearly out of place, that could almost be hidden in a secret place. If you have, chances are, it was a shoe.

The Northampton Museum the Concealed Shoe Index (CSI) contains more than 1,900 records of shoes found in the fabric of old buildings. The practice was widespread in Europe and may relate to a very old custom of human sacrifice then placing the body in the foundations to ensure the building holds together. One the earliest examples in the Northampton Museum is a Tudor shoe circa 1540, discovered in an Oxford college, but others come from as far away as Egypt and Chile. Shoes are frequently found alongside other objects but no one has ever found a written record of why this custom was practiced.

Most concealed shoes are usually well worn and are found in old chimney stacks or in the loft of old houses. These are thought to have been placed there by either the original builders or when the shoes date to a period after the houses were built, subsequent occupants. According to Swann(1999) an old Hertfordshire custom for luck was to discard old shoes by putting one to water and other to fire. This may in part explain one shoe hidden in the chimney. A pattern has however, emerged and old shoes are frequently restricted to openings on the north-east corner of a structure. Occultists believe this is the side evil spirits are thought to gain entry.

The most popular theory is superstitious people kept old shoes of loved ones in the belief shoes retained the spirit of the owner and as omens bring good luck or more likely ward off evil. A common belief is the devil and his cohorts do not like human smell and would find the smell of leather and sweat repugnant.

A considerable number of concealed shoes belong to children and may well have been kept as a keepsake of a lost child. Others believe these were a sign of fertility with a child’s shoe in the master bedroom a zemi to having lots of children. A child’s shoe also to occultists is pure and unsullied by adult life which would make it a stronger and more powerful totem.

Should you ever discovered concealed shoes please contact Rebecca Shawcross at with the following information

Address of building
Date of the building if known and date of any alterations / building work
What the building was / is such as a private house, pub, farm etc.
Where it was found within the building
Note if anything else was found with it
Description of the footwear
Date of the footwear
Images of the footwear in situ

Interesting Read
Swann J. (1996) Shoes concealed in buildings Costume no.30,p.56-69

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Do heels affect the voice? : New study

60s pop diva, Sandy Shaw always sang barefoot, which was rather a novelty but now scientists believe singing barefoot might be better than singing in high heels. Researchers have been busy trying to understand the effects of shoe heel height on female singers' vocal production. Previous findings in non-singer show wearing heels can affect body alignment and head position. Other studies in orthodontics, sleep apnoea, and voice science suggest that head and neck positioning can alter the vocal tract.

In a paper about to be published in Voice, researchers describe a study of 30 soloists and the effects of heel height (barefoot, 10.16-cm stilettos) on three angles of singer head position (calculated from C7-tragus-nasion), during alternating periods of silence and singing.

Results indicated that all participants (100%) significantly decreased head position angle measurements (inferior and posterior head and neck movement) when singing in high heels compared with singing barefoot. Participants, on average, significantly increased head position angle measurements (superior and anterior head and neck movement) when singing compared with standing silently, and did so to a greater degree when transitioning from silent heels to singing heels compared with transitioning from silent barefoot to singing barefoot. Long-term average spectra data indicated significant spectral energy differences between barefoot and high heel singing conditions across participants. Most participants (n= 21, 70.00%) indicated they felt comfortable and sang their best while barefoot.

Rollings AA (2017) The Effects of Heel Height on Head Position, Long-Term Average Spectra, and Perceptions of Female Singers J Voice. pii: S0892-1997(17)30056-5.