Shoes have developed a great deal since the leather foot-bags of 5,000 years ago. They are considered to be essential items of clothing, with the main function of protecting the foot from hazards on the ground. They often provide cushioning for the sole, or special shaping to enable comfort, and are considered a strong element of fashion, although some are designed more for functionality than decoration.
Footwear has an immense range, from women's sandals with just a few strings or straps, to hiking or trail boots with very solid soles, and reinforced uppers with padding.
Shoes consist of a sole, which is the bottom layer, fixed to an upper, which enables the sole to stay on the foot. The sole is created with at least one layer, sometimes two and even three, depending on the use of the shoe. Insoles may just function as the interior base of the shoe, or they may have additional properties, such as to neutralise odours, or to provide extra cushioning.
Uppers are made of a variety of materials, traditionally leather or canvas, but now increasingly from rubber and plastics and other manmade fabrics. They are created in every colour imaginable, and may be glossy 'ÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ such as patent leather 'ÃÂÃÂ¢ÃÂÃÂÃÂÃÂ or matt. Shoes designed for a sporting purpose may have reinforced padding around the ankle and foot, such as with hiking boots. Many trainer uppers are made from a variety of fabrics which are designed to allow the foot to breathe, whilst wicking away moisture.
Uppers can usually be tightened on the foot by use of a mechanism such as a zip, laces, buckles or Velcro, although some are called 'slip-on' and are designed with a stretchy or elastic fabric which springs back into place when the foot is in the shoe.