Earthshoes were a shoe
style popular in the '70s. Earthshoes were distinguished by their lack of a
heel. When an earthshoe was on level ground, the front of the shoe was higher
than the rear of the shoe. The shoe was designed based on the theory that
lifting the toes above the heel was orthopedically correct for walking. Man
did not evolve walking on concrete or Mexican clay tile. Humans walked on
sand and soft earth in bare feet. In sand or soft earth, the heel of the foot
was naturally lower than the toes.
Earthshoes first appeared in Denmark
in 1957, designed by a yoga instructor named Anne Kalso. Back then they were
known as "Minus Heel Shoes" or "Negative Heel Shoes".
Kalso believed her earthshoes not only returned man to his proper walking
orientation but helped invoke a feeling similar to that attained in the lotus
position. Feng shui for the feet, eh.
The name changed in 1970 when a shop opened in the USA
to sell them. The shop opened on the very first Earth Day so the owners
dubbed them "Earthshoes". Since only long haired hippies celebrated
Earth Day back then (as opposed to 50-year-old Saab-driving tenured liberal
arts college profs, as is the tradition today) the earthshoe/hippie
connection was instantly born.
While any shoe that lacked a heel could be considered an earthshoe, the clog
variant was the most popular form. Some fairly attractive shoes used the
negative heel arrangement but most people can only recall the vastly ugly
clogs their older sister and her stringy-haired Lori-Partridge-cookie-cutter
friends all used to wear while they smoked and talked about being married to
Peter Frampton one day.
The earthshoe crazy ended about 1976. The decline was set into motion when a
major supplier of the footwear, located in Oklahoma,
was wiped out by a tornado. The company called Shoe Works used to push the
shoes with large ads in Rolling Stone magazine.