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What are Clogs?

By KN
Updated Feb 17, 2024
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Historically, clog shoes were made entirely of wood, fashioned after the famous Dutch shoes. Factory workers across Europe wore wooden clogs because the wood was readily available, the shoes were durable and inexpensive, and the contours of the shoes provided relief to feet during long days at the worktables.

Shoe historians note that clogs hold a lofty position in the evolution of footwear by meriting a mention in politics. During the Industrial Revolution in Europe, rebellious factory workers chucked theirs into the machinery to stop production during labor strikes. Because of that historic role, the French refer to clogs as sabots, named for the word sabotage.

In later years, these shoes were manufactured using a two-piece design; the soles were still made of wood or cork, but the uppers were fashioned from leather. Clogs are normally designed as open-backed shoes with a covered toe area. Despite the changes through the years, one thing remains constant in the design: the bottom portion of the shoes are contoured with an upward curve going from mid-foot to the toe area. That curved front allows for a heel-to-ball rocking type of gait that is easy on the foot while the curvature of the interior base provides support for feet and legs.

Many people find clogs exceptionally comfortable, making them ideal for those who spend hours on their feet. People working long shifts, such as nurses, doctors, and medical assistants, have embraced them as their shoe of choice. They are great for people of all walks of life, available in men's, women's, and even children's sizes.

Today's clogs are produced in a wide variety of styles, colors and patterns. Some are plain and simple, while others come with fashion details such as decorative straps, embossed designs, or charming cut-out patterns. The uppers of the shoes can be made of leather or suede, cloth, or even plastic. Lightweight and flexible designs are made entirely of synthetic plastic compounds, eliminating wood all together.

Quality shoe manufacturers have joined the ranks of companies producing clogs, and they are available in a range of styles, materials, and prices. These shoes have been popular for generations, and it's likely they will endure into the future. They can be used as working shoes, outdoor garden slippers, or fashion statements. Regardless of their somewhat humble appearance, clogs have countless loyal fans because of their versatility, durability and comfort.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon941865 — On Mar 24, 2014

I still don't get why they started hating the production of clogs if they are so comfortable and nice. Could you explain that a little bit more?

By andee — On Jun 14, 2011

It seems like we all have our favorite pair of shoes that we wear for a long time. Mine is a pair of Birkenstock clogs that I bought many years ago. I wasn't sure I wanted to spend that much money on them at the time, but they have been well worth it.

Besides being very comfortable and matching anything casual, they just don't wear out. I am one that does not enjoy dressing up much and clogs have a very casual look to them. That must be another reason I enjoy them so much.

By sunshined — On Jun 13, 2011

There is a big Dutch community not far from us that has a Tulip Festival every year. It is interesting to watch the kids in their wooden clogs and traditional Dutch dress. The look easy to put on, but I don't know how comfortable the wooden clogs would be to wear all day.

I spend many of my days in a pair of Dansko nursing clogs. Most of my days are spent on my feet, and these are the most comfortable shoes I have found to wear. Anytime I have worn something else for a change, I always find myself going back to these.

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