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Earthshoes were a shoe style popular in the '70s. Earthshoes were distinguished by their lack of a heel. When an earthshoe was on level ground, the front of the shoe was higher than the rear of the shoe. The shoe was designed based on the theory that lifting the toes above the heel was orthopedically correct for walking. Man did not evolve walking on concrete or Mexican clay tile. Humans walked on sand and soft earth in bare feet. In sand or soft earth, the heel of the foot was naturally lower than the toes.

Earthshoes first appeared in Denmark in 1957, designed by a yoga instructor named Anne Kalso. Back then they were known as "Minus Heel Shoes" or "Negative Heel Shoes". Kalso believed her earthshoes not only returned man to his proper walking orientation but helped invoke a feeling similar to that attained in the lotus position. Feng shui for the feet, eh.

The name changed in 1970 when a shop opened in the USA to sell them. The shop opened on the very first Earth Day so the owners dubbed them "Earthshoes". Since only long haired hippies celebrated Earth Day back then (as opposed to 50-year-old Saab-driving tenured liberal arts college profs, as is the tradition today) the earthshoe/hippie connection was instantly born.

While any shoe that lacked a heel could be considered an earthshoe, the clog variant was the most popular form. Some fairly attractive shoes used the negative heel arrangement but most people can only recall the vastly ugly clogs their older sister and her stringy-haired Lori-Partridge-cookie-cutter friends all used to wear while they smoked and talked about being married to Peter Frampton one day.

The earthshoe crazy ended about 1976. The decline was set into motion when a major supplier of the footwear, located in Oklahoma, was wiped out by a tornado. The company called Shoe Works used to push the shoes with large ads in Rolling Stone magazine.


-- Karl Mamer





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