Shoes are footwear that protect the feet while being worn. They are designed to provide comfort, stability and support while also being functional and stylish. Shoes come in a wide variety of shapes, colours and designs and are available to suit any occasion or style. Shoes are also made from a number of different materials which determine their durability and cost.
Most shoes are manufactured using a last – a general model of the foot which is used to create the working structure of the shoe. The last is usually carved out of wood but can also be plastic or metal. There are two general types of lasts – straight and curved. Straight lasted shoes are generally more narrow and curved lasted shoes are generally wider.
Shoemaking was a traditional handicraft until the late 19th century when production moved into factories. The new mechanised production was able to produce many shoes very quickly and at low costs. However, the process did not improve the quality of the shoes produced and most modern shoes are made from synthetic fabrics with rubber soles whereas traditionally leather was the main material for uppers and heels.
Contemporary footwear varies widely in design and complexity with some shoes selling for high prices because of their designer origins. In terms of function, the most important factors are comfort and fit. If a shoe is too tight or uncomfortable it can cause problems like corns and bunions. Over time these problems can lead to more serious issues like Morton’s neuroma.