Whether you consider them to be stylish or not, there is no denying that klompen, known as clogs in English, are a significant part of Dutch heritage. While the debate is still ongoing over where these unique shoes first originated, the vintage clogs that used to be seen all over the Netherlands have made klompen a true icon for the country.
True Vintage Klompen
The true vintage clogs from the Netherlands have either a black or a yellow base. The black base was chosen by those who would be wearing them on soil, while the yellow base purchased by those who spent more time on sandy ground. This way, the shoes would never appear too dirty. While the clogs that you see around the Netherlands today usually feature some form of decoration at the top, this is something that few farmers would have been able to afford back in the day, which is why vintage klompen are usually much plainer in color.
Who Wears Klompen?
Up until recently, klompen were worn by just about everybody in the Netherlands, although they were particularly favored by farmers, gardeners, fishermen and tradesmen. It is these groups of people that tend to still wear clogs today, while those in the cities mostly opt for more modern styles of footwear instead.
The Benefits of Wearing Klompen
The majority of doctors would agree that klompen are actually better for your feet than the shoes we wear today, and this is for a few different reasons. Firstly wood absorbs perspiration, which means that feet are kept nice and dry throughout the day, with the klompen acting as their own personal air conditioning system. Klompen are also much safer than work boots, because when they are struck by a large object, they crack rather than dent, protecting the foot and allowing for its easy removal. In fact, the way in which it is such a sturdy shoe has earned it a CE certificate, meaning that they have been certified by the EU as appropriate safety footwear.
The Internationaal Klompenmuseum, otherwise known as the International Museum of Clogs, is situated in Eelde in the Netherlands, and is a must-visit museum for those wanting to see, and learn more about, vintage klompen. Not only is this museum where you will find the largest collection of wooden footwear in the world, but there are also displays featuring clog making equipment and machinery.
Sadly, the tradition of wearing klompen has been drastically dying down, and there are only a handful of authentic klompen manufacturers left in the world. While the streets of the Netherlands used to be filled with these wooden shoes, they are now only mostly seen in the windows of tourist shops, being purchased as souvenirs rather than practical footwear. However, there are plenty of initiatives that are working hard to keep the craft and traditions of klompen alive, hosting festivals, clog-making workshops and more, so be sure to support these the next time you are in the Netherlands.