A History of the Shoelace
It is not known when the shoelace was first invented. Archaeologists have found the remains of rawhide, hemp and other natural fibers that were used as bindings or laces to tie on ancient footwear dating back to as early as c. 3,500 BC. Laces were necessary device for the binding and securing of the earliest footwear. The style of the shoe, boot or sandal, along with the local materials at hand, often dictated the type of lace needed. Different cultures chose distinctive ways to create and tie or lace their footwear, and that, of course, was heavily linked to the terrain and needs of each group.
Soldiers in the Roman legions used a type of boot-like sandal called a Caligae. These sandals had heavy soles with open toes and heels to reduce the likelihood of blisters or other problems related to their long marches. The front of the sandal was laced up tightly to prevent slipping. The laces enabled the leather "straps" of the sandal to give a secure and custom fit for every wearer. The design was simple but brilliant and worked for centuries - no doubt aiding in the founding of a vast empire.