Platform shoes are shoes, boots, or sandals with an obvious thick sole, usually in the range of 3–10 cm (1–4 in).
Platform shoes may also be high heels, in which case the heel is raised significantly higher than the ball of the foot. Extreme heights, of both the sole and heel, can be found in fetish footwear such as ballet boots, where the sole may be up to 20 cm (8 in) high and the heels up to 40 cm (16 in) or more. The sole of a platform shoe can have a continuous uniform thickness, have a wedge, a separate block or a stiletto heel. Raising the ankle increases the risk of a sprained ankle.
Platform shoes are known in many cultures. The most famous predecessor of platform shoes are the Zoccoli in Venice of the 15th century, designed with the functional goal of avoiding wet feet when the pavements were flooded. Depending on the current shoe fashion platform shoes are more or less popular. In the 1970s they were widespread in both genders in Europe. Today, they are preferred by women.
In the early 1930s, Moshe (Morris) Kimel designed the first modern version of the platform shoe for actress Marlene Dietrich. Kimel, a Jew, escaped Berlin, Germany, and settled in the United States with his family in 1939 and opened the Kimel shoe factory in Los Angeles. The design soon became very popular amongst Beverly Hills elite. In 1938, The Rainbow was a platform sandal designed by famous shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo.
This shoe was a tribute to Judy Garland’s signature song “Over the Rainbow” performed in the Wizard of Oz in 1939. The shoe was crafted using uniquely shaped slabs of cork that were covered in suede to build up the wedge and gold kidskin was used for the straps. His creation was a result of experimentations with new materials because of wartime rationing during World War II. Traditionally heels were built up with leather, but because of the rationing of leather, he experimented with wood and cork The colors and design of this shoe still resemble modern shoe standards today.
The platform shoe resurfaced in popularity in the early 2000s when the YSL Tribute Sandal appeared in 2004, quickly gaining popularity by celebrities and the fashion world for its sex appeal and added comfort of a platform sole. The shoe is continued to be released season after season, despite changes in creative directors. During the late 2010s, platform boots became fashionable due to a resurgence of interest in 1970s fashion. These included so-called “nothing shoes” with clear Perspex soles, and mule sandals.