Happy new year 2017! It’s a brand new year and I’m excited at the start of this year to write about Dutch clogs. I have wanted to write about this type of footwear for ages and I’m happy to finally be able to do so.
When I think about icons related to the Netherlands, tulips, windmills and wooden clogs come to mind. The first ever wooden shoe came from the Netherlands, dating from about 1230 AD, meaning that the Dutch people have been wearing wooden shoes for almost 800 years. These wooden clogs are quite appropriately called klompen. In the past, these clogs were made by hand and cut from a single piece of wood. Nowadays, the clogs are machine made.
The first guild of clog makers was formed in the Netherlands around 1570. Before the 16th century, only rich people could afford shoes, which were handmade from leather. Most people at that time didn’t wear shoes, so wooden shoes became a cheap footwear option for the masses. In the Netherlands, klompen were worn by peasants and farmers.
These days, Dutch people don’t regularly wear klompen anymore, though they are still worn by some people, mainly farmers and gardeners. Because klompen are made from wood, they are as safe as safety shoes or steel-capped boots, and can protect the wearer from sharp objects.
Nowadays, klompen are mainly sold as tourist souvenirs of the Netherlands, rather than as actual footwear.
If an actual wooden clog is too large, klompen souvenirs can also come in mini forms, such as fridge magnets and pins.
Below is a brooch in the form of a pair of plain, unpainted ‘klompen’, a gift from a friend who used to live in the Netherlands.