As I strutted into the London Fashion Week show space at Truman's Brewery last season I heard a photographer mumble "Why are so many men suddenly wearing heels?". A flippant remark that I really didn't think much of at the time it was made, but the comment stayed with me, reoccurring in my head every time I went shoe shopping, which for me, is a lot! To some that don't live and breath fashion, or have any small knowledge of history, it could easily look like a quick trend that will come and go, something new and unusual, and while this maybe true, there is a huge history behind this resurgence of men in heels, and so I'm about to delve into the history and see where it all started. I mean, an addict needs to know the source of the addiction right?
The first fact I found interesting? That high-heels were originally designed for men. The origin of high-heels can be traced back all the way to the 15th century and it was Persian soldiers who were first known to wear a heel. Born out of necessity they wore them to help secure their feet in stirrups while riding and the heeled shoes helped their feet stay in their stirrups firmly and safely plus it them the stability they needed to shoot their bows and arrows. It was also Persian migrants that brought the shoe trend to Europe where male aristocrats wore them to appear taller and more formidable. By the 17th century, one-inch heels were the norm for Persian riders, on and off their horses. Since owning horses was a symbol of wealth, heeled shoes then came to signify money and power. At the end of the 17th century the Persian Shah sent a delegation of soldiers to forge relations with foreign leaders in Russia, Germany, and Spain. “Persia-mania” became fashionable and European aristocrats adopted heels as a symbol of virility and military prowess, how fancy!
Louis XIV was perhaps the most famous male wearer of heels in history. Under Louis’s rule, the higher and redder the heel meant the more powerful the wearer and in 1670, he passed a ruling that stated only noble people could wear heels with those in his favour to wear red heels in particular. You can tell to this day who was in his good and bad graces in court paintings by looking at the colour of the men’s heels. The red heel was symbolic and it showed that its wearer was wealthy enough not to dirty his shoes and that he was powerful enough to crush his enemies underfoot.
Shoes very quickly became increasingly gendered throughout the 18th century as women’s shoes became narrower, more ornamental following the trends with the heels getting higher, whereas men’s shoes became broader and sturdier. In 1730 as a reaction against their perceived feminization men started to stop wearing heels as the shoe of choice. The French Revolution in 1789 put a definitive end to the aristocratic usage of male heels and as time passed the heel became a status symbol for women, with a thin elongated heel fast becoming part of a feminine, and seductive aesthetic.
If we fast forward to our modern day world, while the male heel isnt what it once was, some lifestyles still accept the wearing of heels. The cowboy is a perfect example, a modern update on the 10th century Persian cavalry heel. However the trend of men in heels is sliding back and it has had a large resurgence in recent years with celebrities sporting small heels on red carpets and LGBT stars sashaying around in heels peaking interest and reinterpreting the gender norms and values of our society.
Now with the discussing of men in heels being on the lips of many fashion editors across the western world, the interest in men's heels, and also the amount of men willing to push the boundaries of modern fashion trying the trend has risen substantially. With this extra attention comes the dedicated brands offering men just what they need, a heel designed purposefully for a mans foot.
Cross Sword is a new company that have identified a lack of products for those that wish to wear masculine styled shoes with a high heel. They are pioneers in a new market of men that have longed to wear heels but have been unable to do so due to lack of product available. Men’s feet are different to women's in size and structure and shoes designed for a feminine foot naturally are not comfortable on a mans larger frame. At Cross Sword quality shoes are their first priority with comfort lead designs produced solely for the male wearer. Cross Sword footwear give the wearer the ability to feel proud, to wear fashionable shoes and own the empowerment that so many women receive from wearing high heels. Their shoes are hand crafted by skilled technicians with many years of working hours between them and with their combined knowledge, skills and understanding of the products they are making in-turn produce footwear of the highest quality.
Now as an avid heel wearer myself I already know the benefits to wearing a beautiful shoe. Wearing high heels provides an attractive posture, gives confidence through additional height and the Cross Sword designs allows you to show how comfortable you are with wanting to stand out in the crowd! It can be hard for men who want to try a heel to find high quality and masculine styles to the market, and this is what Cross Sword have done, certainly worth a visit for you male heel fans, as I know theres a lot of you out there! Take a step in history, push the boundaries of fashion, and have some fun in a Cross Sword heel!
For more details on Cross Sword and their fabulous shoes visit Cross-Sword.com