The Evolution Of Gladiator Sandals Proves That The Style Is Timeless

They date back to 1000-700 BCE.

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Ancient Greeks invented gladiator sandals between 1000 to 700 BCE. The lace-up shoe has persisted throughout time, as you can find the style readily available today from the likes of Valentino and Stuart Weitzman. Ahead, study up on the evolution of the gladiator sandal.

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1000 - 700 BCE

For the Ancient Greeks, gladiator sandals weren’t about fashion, they were for utility. The shoe’s design was simple: they tied a basic sole to the foot with rope cords. A small portion of the population also decorated their footwear using colored dyes. Print Collector/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

146 BC

After the Roman Empire captured Greece in 146 BC, they elevated the style to what we know of today. The straps and soles were reinforced with metal studs while an upper was added to make the sandals more resistant to wear and tear. DEA PICTURE LIBRARY/De Agostini/Getty Images


Gladiator sandals entered Western culture during the French Revolution. Here, French women began demanding freedom in both politics and fashion, so they sported the strappy shoe as a way to show a bit of skin. Universal History Archive/Universal Images Group/Getty Images


Strappy sandals popped up in beachwear and fashion in the 20th century, but the gladiator sandal first made its runway debut in the ‘60s. Designer Paco Rabanne was one of the first to popularize the style by having it appear on the runway and in Vogue.AFP via Getty Image


The sandals remained popular throughout the ‘70s, but fell out of popularity in the ‘80s.Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Gladiator sandals made a comeback in Gianni Versace’s Spring 1993 collection. His take on the shoe was a high-heeled pump with a criss-cross vamp — the shoe was complete with gold buttons featuring the signature Versace Medusa head. Condé Nast Archive


Calvin Klein designed a laid-back version of the gladiator shoe as part of his Spring 2002 collection. This metallic silver shoe was a close variation of the footwear worn by the Romans.Brian Edwards/Shoot Digital for STYLE.com


Everyone had a pair of gladiator shoes in the early aughts, as they came in different designs — with some featuring zippers and a heel, like the ones Jennifer Lopez wore here.Frank Micelotta/Getty Images


Under Nicolas Ghesquière’s reign, Balenciaga’s Spring 2008 collection included two variations of cool-girl gladiator sandals. The knee-high sandal came in a black and white chevron design as well as a black and white snake print. Michel Dufour/WireImage


After a brief hiatus, the shoe reappeared on the Chanel runway for the house’s 2017/2018 Cruise collection. In true Chanel fashion, the Greek-inspired collection was filled with tweed garments styled with red, yellow, blue, and black versions of the shoe. Antonio de Moraes Barros Filho/WireImage


The style made its way to 2022 thanks to Italian fashion house Valentino. The shoe was seen in the house’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection featuring black laces and Valentino’s signature rockstuds in gold.Estrop/Getty Images

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