The Platform Shoe: A High-Style History

Fashion, like history, often repeats itself. Case in point: platforms. With each generation, the high-style shoe seems to reappear. So, before you go tossing out last season’s wedges, let’s take a look at where platforms came from and how they’ve been reinvented time and again.

A History of Platform Shoes

Materials were scarce in Mussolini’s Italy, but that didn’t stop Salvatore Ferragamo. Instead, the designer took it as an opportunity to experiment. He fixed layers of readily available, lightweight cork to the sole of a sandal so that it was higher, but not heavier. And so, the first “wedgie” – or platform heel, as it became known – was born.

When disco hit, platforms soared in popularity due in large part to the bell-bottom trend. You see, when bell-bottoms begged for height, chunky heels complied. In fact, the style was so widespread that it became androgynous, with both men and women sporting the same sky-high style.

Vivienne Westwood defined an entire generation with one design: platform sneakers. The athletic style hit the runways briefly before it was popularized by the Spice Girls. After that, it was a must-have for teenage girls everywhere.

With an elevated forepart that makes walking in six-inch heels much easier, it’s no surprise that platform pumps have been a big trend in recent years. And while their popularity has declined a bit lately, there’s no doubt they’ll be making a comeback soon. Until then, everyone’s go-to summer shoe, the espadrille, is here to give us our platform fix.

By Jillian Hudon, Staff Writer

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March 11, 2014