Conoce el origen de nuestras sandalias de inspiración clásica - Portada

Discover the inspiration for our timeless sandals

Desiderata, O.SUR’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection, has now arrived with two exciting first releases: Dara and Denia. These sandals are inspired by classical beauty with a fascinating timeless character that sends us around the Mediterranean, exploring its lands and history. But, how much do you know about the origin of this beloved model?

In this post and the one soon to follow, we want to explore where sandals started their journey and their evolution over time, so we can better understand how our creator was inspired to design dear Dara and Denia. Won’t you join us on our journey? Let’s start in Egypt and Greece!

Ancient Egypt: the original sandals

A flat shoe with straps, a model that would eventually become the sandals we know and love today, first appeared in Egypt in response to the country’s climate and terrain. The first model of its kind was made from leather, straw, reeds and rushes.

Conoce el origen de nuestras sandalias de inspiración clásica - Vida cotidiana Egipto

That being said, it’s use was highly regulated. They were a symbol of true power, since they were a symbol of the connection between the sky (divinity and the Pharaoh) and the Earth (where he ruled). It was also a symbol of progress. Even the monarch’s sandal-bearer achieved great prominence and power.

Conoce el origen de nuestras sandalias de inspiración clásica - Sandalia del faraón

Detail from the Narmer Palette (Egyptian Museum, Cairo) depicting the sandal-bearer


For this reason, the Pharaoh and other prominent figures in the kingdom wore golden sandals, while slaves had to go barefoot. When they could, free men would wear sandals made from plant fibres.

Another important use for sandals can be found in the tradition of removing them before entering temples, a custom observed even the Pharaoh himself and later adopted by Islam. As Herodotus explains, priests wore sandals made of papyrus, the only material permitted inside the temples.


Conoce el origen de nuestras sandalias de inspiración clásica - Sandalias egipcias

Ancient Egyptian sandals: Pavaderivative work: JMCC1 / CC BY-SA


These shoes maintained this status until Byzantine Egypt, the period linking Ancient and Medieval Egypt. Byzantine shoemakers made flat boots and sandals and introduced novel decorative techniques, combining red and brown leather and adding spiral strap ornaments, golden leather geometric motifs or sculpted leather soles.

Ancient Greece, a key inspiration for our timeless sandals

Sandals were the most popular models in Greece throughout Ancient history. They were often made with simple straps around the ankle, although some had decorative designs: coloured leather, pendants, pearls and other features.

Conoce el origen de nuestras sandalias de inspiración clásica - Bocetos griegos (NY)

Greek Boceto Sandals on display at The New York Public Library


During this period, they began to strengthen the soles, placing successive layers of leather and even cork to add height. What’s more, the left and right foot thought to have different properties. Both men and women wore these shoes, although luxury sandals adorned with precious stones were reserved exclusively for courtesans. The latter even had the words “Follow me” scratched into the soles of their sandals to leave a message in the sand.

As in Egypt, sandals were highly regarded in spiritual terms and in Hellenic mythology. For example, the heroes of the Iliad and the Odyssey wore sandals with bronze soles, while the soles of the gods’ shoes were gold. Archaeology has revealed that the most powerful Macedonians imitated Homer’s characters by introducing gold and gold-plated silver soles into their shoe designs.

Conoce el origen de nuestras sandalias de inspiración clásica - Pelias encuentra a Jason (Fresco Pompeya)

A meeting between Pelias and Jason from a fresco in Pompey


One practise you may find surprising is the so-called “monosandalism” or, one shoe off one show on, as seen in the Greek myth of Jason and the Argonauts. Among the popular Greek classes, wearing only one shoe was a way of showing devotion and respect to a particular divinity.

Many Greek heroes wore just one sandal with magical powers, a look that also revealed their unstable position in mythology. For example, when Perseus leaves to kill Medusa, Hermes gives him his winged sandals, but he only wears one, leaving the other in a temple, as told by Herodotus.

Conoce el origen de nuestras sandalias de inspiración clásica - Detalle Hermes

Details from a statue of Hermes in the National Archaeological Museum of Naples / / CC BY


It’s also very important which foot is left bare: the left represents earthly and the infernal divinities, while the right represents heaven; the beneficent gods. In the case of Perseus, he is usually depicted with Hermes’ winged sandal on his right foot, a sign of its divine nature; his left foot is on the ground, rooting him to the earthly side of every hero.

Rome inherited the Greek style, but they took it one step further and launched the first fashion industry. Want to know how they did it and discover how important shoes were for the ascent of this grand empire? We’ll tell you all about it in our next post on the inspiration for our timeless sandals!


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