In today’s fashion, clumsy backless slip-ons are generally known as clogs. Historically, the clog was a shoe defined by its chunky shape, heavy sole, and sturdy material. Initially, farmers, factory workers, and miners in Scandinavia wore clogs as protective footwear over shoes. In the Netherlands, clogs gained popularity and were worn instead of shoes and not as galoshes.
The clogs are descendants of the “galoce”, a high wooden shoe worn by peasant women in the Ardennes region to protect their shoes from the muddy and muddy streets. Records of wooden shoes date back to the Roman Empire.
The original clogs were shoes with stiff and heavy wooden soles. Made primarily of willow or other woods, these sturdy shoes provided warmth and safety for the working-class foot. The durability of these wooden shoes made the clog a favorite style of footwear for the working class.
Although generally associated with Scandinavian countries, wooden shoes were worn throughout continental Europe, the British Isles, and Mediterranean areas, including countries such as Italy and Greece. They gained popularity during the Industrial Revolution as protective footwear for the working class.
In Europe, the war years of the 20th century found governments urging their citizens to adopt the use of wooden shoes due to deficiencies in leather supplies. They were largely unsuccessful in their endeavors due to the continued perception of wooden shoes as footwear or the working or peasant class.
The wooden shoe did not find popularity in the United States until the 1960s when Dr. Scholl introduced a wooden slip-on shoe that was hailed as therapeutic footwear. In the 1970s, clogs became a fashion trend following the lead of the popular singing group Abba, who performed in platform boots and Swedish clogs with leather uppers and thick (and loud) wooden soles.
While some clogs today retain the look of clogs from the 70s, the wooden sole now has a non-slip rubber bottom. Often times, clogs are now made of rubber or other synthetic materials that resist water and heat. The popularity of the Crocs, which started out as gardening shoes, has exploded and these shoes are now available in a multitude of colors for men, women, and children.
Today’s clogs are available in a variety of heels; some come with optional heel straps. Leather upper is still popular, but rubber clogs have gained popularity among nurses as they can be sterilized in an autoclave or with over-the-counter cleaning supplies. Operating room staff have long worn clogs due to less back and foot fatigue from long hours of standing. The clog’s firm or wooded rubber soles offer support throughout the day, providing a firm foundation for weak arches and plantar fasciitis. The original mid-heel height of many clogs puts pressure on the lower back helping the person to stand taller.
For people like nurses or other healthcare professionals, the natural shape of the foot and the wide toes of the clog help prevent feet from feeling constricted and pinched. This helps take pressure off problem areas on the foot, such as bunions and hammer toes. For nurses who do more on their feet than walk, such as OR staff, wooden-soled clogs are often the preferred option. Nurses who walk miles every day caring for the patient may prefer the more flexible rubber sole.
Whatever the choice, wood or rubber, clogs have become a major component of the nursing shoe industry. Most clog manufacturers offer their shoes in a variety of colors, including white for the healthcare industry. Additionally, several nursing uniform vendors have expanded their uniform lines to include clog-style footwear in colors to match their scrubs.
Most clog wearers insist on wearing clogs for comfort, but the ease of donning and doffing these shoes is also a major benefit, for healthcare workers and travelers alike. With airport security regulations insisting that travelers remove their shoes at security checkpoints, obstruction has become a popular travel footwear.
Today, clogs have regained their popularity as durable work shoes and, with the addition of improved and more cushioned insoles, have joined the ranks of “comfortable shoes” among nurses and the general population. The long tradition of clogs throughout the centuries continues as clogs continue to find new uses.