When I read books I like to read something that I can learn from rather than reading novels, two of the last books I have read have been about running. The first was “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall and “Tread Lightly which was co-authored by Peter Larson and Bill Katovsky, both books are focused on barefoot running.
It was reading “Tread Lightly” that has given me the idea for this blog update which is going to focusing on the origin of names used in the current sneaker scene and footwear style names. I would like to point out that what I write is what I have concluded and by no means saying that it is fact.
Trainers if your English have so many colloquial names such as kicks, sneakers, tekkies, runners, but it is the word Crepe that I stumbled across the possible origins of, I wonder if my friends at Crepe City did some historical digging before naming Europe’s biggest trainer event.
The Krepis evolved from the Pedila which originated in Persia. Greeks adopted the Pedila (Greek word for sole) during the Epic Age (c. 1000 -7000 BCE). Krepis were thick soled bootees with leather sides (vamps); the heel counter protected the foot and gave greater comfort. The toes were left uncovered. Other styles included half boots and sandals made with a thick cowhide leather sole (often raised in low platform style). The sole was pierced along the top with several holes through which a thong was passed through and tying it to the instep. The Krepis were developed for military use and the uppers were cut in a reticulated design (as in crossed striped). The tongue (lingual or ligula) over the mid step protected the top of the foot as well as an anchor for the thongs. Sometimes the leather tongue had a metal (silver, gold or ivory) plate. The later significance of the ligula was it indicated a citizen or freeman. Gods and heroes were often depicted wearing the Krepis but eventually the shoes were worn by both sexes.
During the mid 1830’s soles of shoes were beginning to be made from rubber by a Liverpool Rubber Factory, sometime after in 1884 we started seeing runner soles in sports shoes, the use of rubber in outsoles wasn’t communing found until roughly 1917.
These types of shoes, with canvas uppers and rubber soles, were often called “Sneaks” in a slangy homage to cat burgers and thieves because their bottoms made little noise when one was running or walking. Sneaks later colloquially morphed in to the word “Sneakers”
Traditional huarache designs vary greatly, but are always very simple. Originally made of all-leather, later early designs included woven string soles and occasionally thin wooden soles. Later more elaborate upper designs were created by saddlers and leather workers.
The modern huarache developed from the adoption in the 1930s of rubber soles developed from used rubber car-tires. Modern designs vary hence vary in style from a simplistic sandal to a more complex shoe, using both traditional leather as well as more modern synthetic materials. In recent times, the Sandals have been fashion: young people have returned to put on with thongs decorated with motifs that have revived the like to wear that kind of sandals.
Many shoes hence claim to be huaraches, but they are still traditionally only considered a huarache if they are handmade, and have a woven-leather form in the upper.
Below is a couple of pictures of Huarache, the first (top) one of many versions of the early Huarache and the lower picture the modern day Huarache from sports giants Nike which were originally released in 1993
I will end by asking you a question and possibly setting you some homework, were the Nike Terra Humara trail running shoes named after the Mexican Tarahumara Indians who could could run hundreds of miles without rest over rough terrain?