Men started the high-heel fashion trend hundreds of years ago. Back then, high-heels were seen as a sign of masculinity and aristocracy. They were made by men for men. So how did high-heel shoes become the epitome of women’s style and fashion and why after all of these years are almost all retail shoes – especially high-end brands – managed and created by men?
Shoemaking Used to Be ‘Man’s Work’
Cobblers as they were called in olden times were men’s jobs like housekeeping and nannying was women’s work. That has remained true even to today. But high-heel shoes have been so thoroughly reengineered in our culture that it has long been forgotten that men were the first to wear high heels.
It’s easier to get on and off of a horse and to keep your feet in the stirrups in high-heel shoes. This fashion trend caught on quickly in parts of the globe where the fastest means of travel back in the 900s A.D., was horseback. Since people who owned horses were considered to be well-to-do, high-heels also became a sign of wealth and position.
You’ll see in full length portraits of royalty long ago men posing with their legs jutted out to show off their high-heel shoes.
It didn’t become a feminine thing until the trend spread to the West. Men and women alike began to show off their heels but that’s where the designs began to diverge.
Pin-Up Dolls and High-Heels for Women
It wasn’t until the late 1800s, early 1900s, that women were allowed to work in factories that made shoes. But they were never in charge of the design. The industrial revolution eliminated the need for workers to cobble together shoes once machines came along and women were once again shut out of the shoemaking business.
During the two World Wars, high-heels came back in a big way as a sex symbol. Pictures of beauty queens and celebrities posing in high-heels renewed a masculine desire for the curvy look of women’s legs in shoes. The trend has continued ever since and has largely become standard for women in the office, in show business, and beauty as men rake in the big bucks for it.
Men continued to wear heels but they became bigger, boxier, and more comfortable while women’s heels became more opulent and decorative despite the pain they caused to women’s feet. Yet when it came to designing shoes for women, it did and still has remained largely man’s work.
Women Pay the Most for Shoes
Save sneaker brands like Adidas and bargain shoes that you get from chain shoe retailers, women pay more for their shoes than men do – much more; billions of dollars more each year. Among the most expensive high-end shoe brands, none were shoes for men because women’s shoes cost hundreds of dollars more on average.
With all of the money that could be made by a company that could create a fashionable high-end shoe that is comfortable too, it’s a travesty that more women haven’t gotten into the shoe industry. Then again, you do have the Debbie Winghams of the world.
While Wingham Heels were created by a woman who sells the most expensive high-heels on the planet, comfort and women’s foot health is not top priority in designs like these. Even when it comes down to comfortable shoes for women like sneakers, those companies are still by-in-large founded and run by men.
The Most Expensive Shoes are Made by Men for Women
Why are so many women suffering from painful shoes just to look good? Could it be because men are inherently somewhat clueless about the differences between men and women’s feet? Or could it be that there are still sexist undertones driving the design and expense of women’s shoes?
The most expensive women’s high-end shoe brands sold by the top women’s shoe designers in the world are all headed by men, save Chanel which was founded by Gabrielle a.k.a. Coco Chanel. Ranker listed Louboutin as the top women’s shoe designer in 2019. Their top selling shoe costs over $3,000!
If you want to own a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes you could end up paying well over $3,700 and over a thousand just for a pair of booties. Women suffer in their shoes but are raking in very few of the billions of dollars generated by their sales.
Just go down the list – Prada, Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent – all shoes designed for women by men. There’s nothing inherently wrong with men designing shoes for women, but we have to begin to wonder why women’s shoes are seemingly designed without any regard to her foot health, comfort, or safety. We think it’s because more shoes for women should be made by women.
We Are Different
Women are different. Our bodies are different. That’s no mystery – it’s science. Yet when it comes to women’s shoes, male shoe designers seem to imagine shoe design as if women’s feet were somehow comfortable in those awkward and unnatural positions.
Men went from tapered flashy heels to square peg platforms like you see on cowboy boots because it is way more comfortable. Women have not had that type of revolution in shoe design yet. However, companies like ours at Kira Bani are looking to change all of that.
Shoes Made by Women for Women
We began our company with the philosophy that women’s shoes can and should be designed by women. We believe that women shouldn’t have to hurt themselves in uncomfortable shoes in order to look good. We don’t believe that it is an either-or choice. You can choose comfort and fashion while enjoying all of the fine detail and craftsmanship of a high-end shoe.
Kira Bani shoes are made by women for women of the highest quality materials and old world Italian craftsmanship. We designed our FIT-ANY tool to ensure that any women, no matter the shape or size of her foot can enjoy a comfortable pair of luxury shoes that do not sacrifice style for comfort. Find your fit and try a pair of Kira Bani ballet flats – the most comfortable ballet flat ever!