What’s the sitch with shoelaces?
The basic sitch with shoelaces is pretty unremarkable; keeps the shoe secured tightly to the wearer’s foot. That is clear enough. My interest lies more in the lack of progress within the field of shoe to foot attachment.
When were shoelaces invented? It is hard to put an exact date on this, but archaeological records show that simple leather footwear was secured using leather ‘laces’ as early as 3500 BC. There are shoes on display in the Museum of London from as early as the 12th century, with nearly modern laces. So even those shoe-historians with the most stringent of criteria for ‘shoelace’ would agree that laces have been around for almost 1000 years.
A variety of colors have been added, and I’m sure the ends (known as ‘aglets’ in the biz) have become much sturdier… but that’s about it. We are still using medieval technology to keep shoes on our feet. We have fucking iPads. We have metal tubes that fly us around the world as we scroll through all of the information ever collected by the human race. We have tamed all manner of beasts and bent nature to our will. Yet… our leather shoes are still strapped to our feet using ropes made of animal hair.
I know you are playing Devil’s advocate in your head, thinking, “Well NJ, what about Velcro-secured shoes? What about slip-on loafers?” Fair questions, but really, those are fringe items. And neither was a huge improvement on the shoelace, just minority alternatives that some choose to try in between loop, swoop, and pulling on their day-to-day footwear, still secured by the laces of our ancestors.
Now, I’m not saying I have any better ideas. But then again, I’ve only been thinking about this for the last, maybe, 18 minutes. Magnets? Magnets is pretty good. Self-tying laces? Some sort of new arrangement of the eyelets making the traditional common bow seem like the stone age technology it is?
We can do better. In this age of a light-speed progress and unimaginable convenience, let’s look to areas in our everyday lives where we can easily take huge steps forward. I know we have teams of nerds working day and night to make Siri a little bit smarter so we can use our fingers a little bit less. All I’m asking is for one of those 23 year olds to sit down for a week and revolutionize the shoe industry with a better system for keeping shoes on our feet.
I guess I’ll just end with this: I own a machine that will propel me at 85 miles per hour if I step on a pedal hard enough. And it’s from 1994. I’ll trade someone that machine for a better shoe-fastening system come 2014. That and 10% of any eventual profits.