Since man came down from the trees, and stood on sharp thorns or brambles whilst gardening, protecting this feet from the wear and tear has been a priority. Materials were to hand, wood, skins or bark. As wood is long lasting, insulation and waterproof – keeping feet dry, it was the obvious choice.
For at least eight hundred years this type of footwear has been known as “pattens” worn by the affluent over leather or fabric but worn directly against the skin by the poor and so developed the clog, the best option at the time.
In different parts of Europe people came up with similar clog versions, Chopping in Italy, the Sabot in France and Belgium, the Klomp and Galosh, there are dozens of variations. In Britain the slip on clogs really took off with the Industrial Revolution, workers in the mills, mines, iron, steel and chemical works, workshops and factories needed cheap reliable footwear. The heyday of the clog in Britain was between the 1840’s and 1920’s, when they were worn all over the country. The wearing of clogs was associated with poverty and in the 1930’s depression, mass produced boots and shoes became more affordable.
The stigma has now long since disappeared, and people now look back with fondness to a “simpler” time when practical slip on shoes were the norm the most.
The wood used to make wooden clogs
Historically, many different types of easily workable non splintering wood has been used to include Alder, Sycamore, Ash, Birch, Poplar and Willow. Alder absorbs moisture, keeping the feet dry. It’s lightweight. Ash is the best wood to make dancing clogs but it’s not very waterproof, it is light and springy. Sycamore is a good all rounder, resilient but a bit heavier.
Who makes the best clogs now?
Sadly, only Walkley’s of Hebden Bridge are still mass producing wooden clog soles, they use Beech, kiln dried to 12% moisture content.
Over the past 20 years all manor of materials to include wood, rubber, EVA (Ethylene-Vinyl acetate) and much more have been used to make clogs in various shapes and forms from garden clogs to fashion clogs to medical clogs to workwear clogs. Gardening Clogs, dentist clogs, dog walking clogs, orthopedic clogs, mules for chefs and nurses, surgeons clogs, the list goes on… Some modern manufacturers claim to make the lightweight and most comfortable clogs and slip on mules or slippers. Some clog or mules brands you may be familiar with include: Cloggies, Crocs, Birkenstock, Hunter, Town and Country, Briers, Dunlop Skechers, San Malo etc.. In fact there’s a whole world of clogs and mules out there, Backdoorshoes offer slip on comfortable, lightweight shoes to use for leisure, work or just to keep by the backdoor of the house.