Get to Know 4 Traditional Shoes from Russia

Stop for a moment and take a look at the shoes you are wearing right now. Are they sneakers? Are they flats? Are they boots? Where in the world did they come from? Have you ever spared a fleeting moment of your life to think about the trend that the shoes you are wearing were participating in? You may also check fashion trends of Russian men and fashion trends of Russian women.

Shoes are not a mere fashion statement but rather a passage into the culture of one’s nation and function of those who wear them on their two feet snuggly. Even though flip flops and sneakers can be found everywhere, each culture still has a certain type of shoes that was produced especially for their day-to-day needs and remains an essential part of what makes their dress unique and original.

If you come on a short trip to every part of the world, make sure you learn more about shoes around the world. See some of the most typical shoes for yourself. It could be slippers or sandals or boots. You may also check why you should take off shoes in Russian home.

Russian Traditional Shoes

Traditional shoes in Russia are not without their own history. Back in the days, Russian peasants used to wear bast shoes, whereas in more modern cities, high boots were the most common footwear among common citizens. Heeled boots’ first appearance in Russia was somewhat in the 14th century. The high boots were, more often than not, square-tipped, whereas the high boots worn by people from noble family were distinguished by upturned toes.

The tops of the boots were relatively short and cut angularly towards the knees. They were sewn of colored leather, brocade, morocco or velvet and were usually decorated with gems and embroidery. You may also check the history of Russian fashion.

In the late 17th century, under the immense influence of fashions in other Western countries, the nobility started to wear low shoes. Do you want to learn more about Russian traditional shoes? Get to know 4 traditional shoes from Russia here.

  1. Valenki

Russian valenki dated back as far as that time of 18th century when the first pair was produced. It was supposed to be the felt boots of Asian nomads which they had been wearing on their feet for more than 1,000 years. Mass production of valenki started in the late 19th century when factories were operated. Before the mass production happened, valenki used to be items which were considered too expensive and thus, only well-off people could afford to have a pair of them.

Valenki were the footwear of choice for a lot of Russian people especially for those who lived in rural areas and those who were too poor to buy good leather boots. The Russian army stood its ground with valenki to victory over Hitler’s army. Up until now, valenki remains the important part of the winter uniform in some parts of the mainland. You may laso check Muslim army in Russian military.

Valenki are believed to have some healing effects through their natural and warmth material. The Russian Tsar Peter the Great wore a pair of them to get over hangovers and urged his people to do the same.


  1. Lapti

Lapti are Russian traditional bast shoes. The word lapti was derived from the word “lapa” which used to mean “foot” and now means paw. Lapti were worn in every Russian village until the beginning of the 20th century. However, in today’s age, you can hardly find Russian people wearing them save for the special occasions such as celebrations or traditional costume shows.

It is easy to tell where the fame of lapti came from: They were comparatively cheap and not many Russian peasants could buy better footwear. Even up until now, poor Russian people are sometimes called “lapotniki” which means people who wear lapti or people who sell lapti.

Lapti were made of a part of the tree bark called bast, with the help of an iron hook called kochedik and a wooden last. Almost every Russian family owned these simple tools and almost every man in every village could produce lapti, while women usually could not. A woman who had the skill to produce bast shoes was considered reputable among home-folks. Normally, lapti were made in winter when the peasants had more spare time as they did not have to work in the fields during that time.

Unfortunately, lapti could not last long and frayed in the course of a week or two, even faster if it was fall or spring due to the rainy weather. When having a long trip, Russian peasants usually bring several spare pairs of lapti in their bags.


  1. Slippers

Felt boots were not only sewn in Russia and they were not the only footwears to be made of felt as well. “Chuvyaki” slippers have long been circulated in Dagestan which a felt top was sewn to a thick felt sole and carefully adorned with leather trim.

Slippers like galoshes are not originally a Russian invention. However, they still became unbelievably popular in Russia because of all the mud and slush on typical streets in Russia especially during spring and fall. In winter, Russian people like to wear galoshes over valenki, but there were also galoshes for more elegant footwear purpose, for example, they could go to the party or theater in high heels or other fancy footwears and leave their galoshes in the cloakroom.

  1. Valeshi

Valeshi is a contemporary twist on felt boots. The word “valeshi” means “sewn valenki”. Unlike valenki, valeshi are often sewn from the thickest felt. Some are made to indoor footwear which means it could only be worn around the house. However, there are other types of valeshi that are made for the outdoors and have a glued-on rubber sole.

Get to know 4 traditional shoes from Russia and weigh the pros and cons each shoe offers for you. Then, you can decide which Russian traditional shoe you want to try to add into your fashion collection. Hopefully, this article will be useful.

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