These shoes were made in a factory around 1920. Shoe manufacturing revolutionised footwear and fashions in this period. In the 1900s many shoes were still made by hand by cobblers in workshops. This was a slow process, shoes were pricey and many people had just one pair that lasted several years. Shoemaking was revolutionised once machinery was employed to create shoes. Designs were more adventurous and used innovative materials and creative shapes. Mass production meant lower prices and shoes became a fashion accessory, something easy and affordable.
During the First World War, a shortage in materials and the need to have practical long-lasting footwear meant that people usually wore boots. But as hemlines began to rise the leg came into full view. The foot became the focal point of fashion and women selected shoes for their colour, pattern and detailing. Lace-ups, straps, court shoes or pumps were worn depending on the occasion. Suede in dull greens, greys, mauve and khaki was popular at different times in the 1910s and 20s.
Fashionable shoes also had to be practical. During the War women had taken over jobs in the factories and offices while the men went to fight in Europe. They needed suitable shoes for driving vans, manning railway signal boxes and for serving in the police force and the women's services. At the end of the war, women continued to lead active, independent lives. Sports and leisure interests for women - like cycling, cricket and athletics - were growing in popularity and required comfortable shoes.
Shoe styles were influenced by crazes like the Charleston, a dance that demanded a securely fastened shoe with a low heel and closed toe. The most common styles were shoes with a single strap, covered button and pointed toe, and they were called Mary Janes. There were variations on this style - shoes could have crossover straps, cut-away decorations or t-straps.
The new 'Arch Preserver Shoe' claimed to keep feet 'active and vigorous' and the Hollywood actress Louise Brooks had a pair of arch preserver Mary Janes named in her honour.
The 1920s was the era of the flapper girl, who wore straight drop-waisted dresses with bobbed hairstyles and close-fitting hats. Skirts fell between the knee and mid-calf for both day and evening wear. Layered jacket, blouse and skirt sets were also fashionable and sometimes came in knitted materials. Popular colours for day were neutral greys, browns and blues and designs were simple. Sleeveless barrel-shaped dresses with beading and panels were worn in the evening, and outfits were accessorised with furs, feathers and lace.