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History of Shoelaces: Guide on How Laces Evolved Through Time

By August 17, 2023Food for thought, Sneakers

AIO Bot - History Of ShoelacesIf the Air Jordan 2 is Jordan Brand’s middle child, then shoelaces are the parts of the shoe that are often taken for granted. They basically make the silent backbone of the sneakers on the whole. They also play the main role of keeping your kicks in perfect condition and keeping your feet supported. But have you ever wondered when and how it all began? What’s the complete untold history of shoelaces? Well, let’s find that out together.

History Of Shoelaces

So, it’s a common fact that shoelaces play an important role in our life. And it all starts we begin learning how to tie our shoes as kids. But keep in mind that the way to tie shoelaces differs from one person to another. For example, an athlete who’s on their way to a championship wouldn’t flex their kicks the way a sneakerhead on the way to an event would. You see, the American champion skater, Tonya Harding, nearly lost the championship in 1994 due to a broken shoelace. This being said, lace up for a trip down the history of shoelaces. 

The Complete History Of Shoelaces - When Were Shoelaces Invented - Shoelace HistoryAreni-1 4000 BC

The history of shoelaces kicked off from the Areni-1 cave. It was in that cave that the first-ever shoelaces were discovered and recorded. It basically was a cord made from animal sinews. Archeologists estimate that they date back to around 4000 BC. 

However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that the history of shoelaces started then, but till now, this is the oldest shoelace that archeologists have discovered. 

Ötzi the Iceman ~3300 BC

Following the Areni-1 discovery, archeologists proved again that the idea of shoelaces is thousands of years old. And the 5,200-year-old mummy proved that when German hikers discovered his remains back in 1991. Turns out that fastening their shoes with laces helped early people to walk long distances without losing their footwear. 

Ancient  Greeks 100 BCE – 300 AD

When it comes to the history of shoelaces, the Ancient Greeks liked to give their feet some breathability. They created shoelaces out of cowhide leather to fasten their footwear, where the laces started from the feet and ankle, then up the leg.   

Ancient Romans 100 BCE – 300 AD

It’s a common fact that Greek culture highly influenced Roman culture. And so, they adopted the same footwear design as the Greeks. Ancient Roman sandals were tied to the feet using either leather or cloth shoelaces. In fact, Roman soldiers were the ones for popularizing shoe laces. 

Harvey Kenedy 1790  

In 1790, the invention of aglets altered the history of shoelaces upside down. The invention earned the English inventor, Harbey Kenedy, $2.5 Million. You see those plastic (sometimes metal) tips that come at the ends of shoelaces? Well yes, the 2.5 Million dollars was for adding that part to the laces. They stop your laces from wearing out and fraying. 

John Boydell  1873 

John Boydell joined in on making a name for himself in the history of shoelaces as he invented the first-ever synthetic shoelace. Materials included gutta-percha and vulcanized rubber. Synthetic shoe laces then became so popular due to the fact that they didn’t break as easily as shoelaces made from plant fibers and animals. 

Shoelaces Nowadays

1900 forward, sneaker brands started getting more creative with the materials they use in creating shoelaces. You’ve now got polyester, neylon, and rayon. You might also see other brands focusing on sustainability and producing laces sustainable, yet durable at the same time. You also got luxurious shoelaces made from materials such as satin and leather, which add a luxurious touch to the outfit you’re rocking them with. 


Well, you see, no matter how high-tech your shoelaces, you gotta always take care of them. Meaning that when you finally bring out your cleaning kit and get on with turning your whole sneaker collection into spotless masterpieces, you don’t simply forget about the laces. They gotta join in on the show, as well, you know. Because poor-looking laces might make you lose your sneakerhead status, just like Ye lost his Billionaire one

Sneaker Care Guides:

In addition to educating yourself on the history of shoelaces, as sneakerheads, you gotta know how to lace your sneakers right. Because one wrong tight knot might make you replace your favorite pair of shoes. And God forbid it be an Off-White Nike pair or other expensive-as-heck sneakers. Now, being one of the most popular silhouettes on the market, here’s a guide on how to lace Jordan 1s. And to learn how to lace Nike Dunks, click here!