In celebration of the month of February, is celebrating Black History Month with a few features of African Americansthat have contributed to the fashion and shoe industries. With the newly elected President Barack Obama, it’s clear that now is a very special time to celebrate this month. We wanted to introduce another noteworthy black historical figure; one that will change the way we look at our precious shoes!

Jan Ernst Matzeliger
Jan Ernst Matzeliger (1852-1889)

Ever wonder how shoes were made in the 19th century? It must have been by hand, right? Or was their a machine invented to assist in the process? Maybe you never even gave it much thought (I surely hadn’t). Luckily I discovered a man named Jan Matzeliger (of both both Dutch and African descent) who invented a handy machine that attached the upper part of a shoe to the sole.

The "Shoe Laster"
The "Shoe Laster"

The people who were able to sew the parts of the shoe together (originally) were called “hand lasters” and expert ones were able to produce about 50 pairs of shoes in a 10 hour work day. The service these people provided made the cost of shoes very expensive. They figured no one would ever be able to create a machine that could work as well as fingers do. Matzeliger however proved them wrong and did just that, creating the machine called the “shoe laster.” It changed the world of shoes soon there after, as it lowered the cost and increased the quantities (to approx. 150-700 shoes a day!) from there on out. Shoe lovers of this time rejoiced… shoes were now affordable for just about everyone.


So, maybe you will remember Jan Matzeliger the next time you gawk at those fancy red soles that Christian Louboutin shoes seem to always sport. Without Matzeliger, we might not have ever seen these ruby red wonders.

9 Comments on The Original “Sole” Man

  1. Lollie Shopping
    February 17, 2009 at 11:53 pm (7 years ago)

    What a wonderfully educational blog post! I love it.

  2. ashpash
    February 18, 2009 at 9:49 am (7 years ago)

    Thank you Jan! (and Hali!)

  3. Goldn
    February 27, 2009 at 12:13 am (7 years ago)


  4. Pj Hadley
    September 10, 2009 at 6:24 pm (7 years ago)

    I love this site becus it gives guys like me a chance to buy high heels with no shame.

  5. Pj Hadley
    September 10, 2009 at 6:32 pm (7 years ago)

    Its me again!!!!!! I just bot these beauiful pink high heels and i loooovovvveee them. ROCK ON!

  6. pj Hadley
    September 10, 2009 at 6:33 pm (7 years ago)

    my legs look soooooo slim in these!

  7. ali khan
    September 11, 2009 at 12:29 pm (7 years ago)

    i love the purple one they make me look an feel like the girl i know i am

  8. trevor asel
    September 11, 2009 at 12:30 pm (7 years ago)

    i love wearing these shoes and womens underwear around my house it makes me feel like the girl i wanna be

  9. erik weimer
    September 11, 2009 at 12:31 pm (7 years ago)

    my favorite color is men!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! i love these shoes it makes me feel like a woman not a gay guy which i am

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