A lot of what happens in the fashion industry remains a mystery to people who buy clothing based primarily on function and comfort. Among the most curious of all such mysteries is the clog. Despite all the bad things we’ve heard about clogs over the years, people still wear them. Why? What on earth is the appeal?
To be fair, there are some manufacturers that make professional clogs for certain industries, like healthcare. But most modern clogs are considered ‘fashion clogs’. People choose them because they allegedly look good. But as one expert told Daily Beast contributor Emilia Petrarca back in 2017, “If it’s fashionable, chances are it’s not biomechanically correct.”
Shoes Made from Wood
A clog is defined as a shoe made fully or partially with wood. Some of the earliest clogs came from the Netherlands and were made entirely of single blocks of wood carved out to accommodate the feet. But clogs may predate Dutch shoemakers by centuries. History suggests that multiple ancient cultures in Europe and the Middle East may have worn their own versions of clogs before the Dutch made them famous.
Note that clogs do not have to be all wood. Some offer wood soles with uppers made from leather or another material. In fact, the earliest galoshes were made this way, according to Salt Lake City’s GC Tech. In a recent blog post detailing the evolution of galoshes, GC Tech describes a wood and leather boot that would technically be considered a clog by modern standards.
Incidentally, patten style clogs are actually overshoes. They are not worn much these days, but they were pretty big in medieval Europe. The wooden soles kept the wearer’s feet off the ground while the leather uppers kept away water, dirt, and all sorts of nasties.
The Modern Clog
The modern clog rarely looks anything like traditional Dutch clogs or more protective patten clogs. They can be designed to look like sandals, loafers, or even pumps. Regardless of the style, the key is the wooden sole. Therein lies the problem, according to Petrarca’s Daily Beast piece.
Petrarca’s posture coach explained that wood is a good material for shoe soles if you are looking for the kind of firmness that activates your foot muscles. Apparently, wood soles put a little spring in your step because they are so firm. But that is about as far as the positives go.
It turns out that wood soles don’t allow you to accomplish a full gate when you walk or run. That is why regular clog wearers tend to shuffle their feet. Their shoe soles are too firm. So firm, in fact, that it is difficult to fully pick up the foot, extend it in front, and step down from heel to toe.
The Weight Doesn’t Help
Another negative that clogs have going for them is their weight. Let’s face it, blocks of wood are heavier than strips of rubber or composites. Perhaps that’s another reason that clog wearers drag their feet. The weight of their shoes just gets to them after a certain amount of time.
The excess weight of wooden soles becomes a bigger problem when your clogs don’t firmly hold to your feet. A pair that slips on the front without anything to hold them in place in the back becomes a flip-flopping nightmare when you are trying to walk in them.
Clogs may have been the best shoes available a few hundred years ago. Today, they are a fashion accessory more than anything else. It is a mystery that so many people buy and wear them. But hey, that’s the fashion game.