Friday, May 22, 2009
Wooden Clogs: fashion and fashionista
Wooden clogs have rarely ever been fashionable despite their comfort. Always associated with the working class, even after the French Revolution, when the sabot was taken as national dress of the Citizens of France, the costume was later changed to leather shoes. Wooden shoes remain popular throughout the Nordic countries and are worn by both men and women, yet only fleetingly make it to the fashionable catwalks of New York, Rome and Paris.
During the Second World War shortages in Europe meant leather was no longer available for boots and shoes. Instead governments encouraged people to turn to wooden soled shoes as a practical solution. Although fashion magazines patriotically photographed their top models wearing them it failed to persuade others to follow suit. By then most people associated clogs with working-class poverty and were less inclined to adopt them as a fashionable clothing. Even when the middle classes were eventually forced to wear clogs it was very much under duress.
In Occupied Countries some black marketeers were reported to wear clogs which had shoe prints going the opposite way. This was thought to be an attempt to confuse authorities trying to follow them. Black marketeer’s clogs were also reputed to contain secret compartments to hide clandestine contraband and or information.
The hey day for clogs as fashionable shoes came briefly in the 1970s when the supergroup Abba were popular. Although the group are better known for their platform boots they were also photographed many times wearing wooden clogs. A popular line of fashion clogs followed which had the ABBA logo stamped on the outer side of the soles.
Actor and singer Adam Faith loved wearing clogs especially in his most famous television role of Cockney larrikin, ‘Budgie’ Bird in Budgie.
Another clog devotees is Brian May (Queen): and Whoopi Goldberg was seen wearing them in several of her movies including Made in America.