This dramatic, leatherstrapped shoe seems to surface as the “it” sandal every few years. Known for adding an edge to any summer look, the original design was literally a look to die for—as many ancient gladiator fighters could attest.
The sandal was created for the daring fighters of the Roman Empire. There is speculation about when the first gladiator match took place, but is believed to have occurred around 264 BC at the funeral for Junius Brutus, organized by his children Marcus and Decimus in honor of his memory. The sport gained popularity in Roman culture and the custom continued for about five hundred years… As the Roman Empire’s power increased, so did the number of their prisoners of war. The best slaves were sold to the highest bidder and trained to fight as gladiator warriors, as were criminals and fameseeking civilians. The average lifespan of a fighter was twentyseven years, and the most skilled rarely survived more than ten games. Gladiators could earn great rewards— money, glory and freedom—but losing meant an oftengrizzly death.
Our thirst for bloody combat may not be quenched in the same manner nowadays, but the human quest for bravery never goes out of style. The gladiator sandal continues to offer courage to those who dare to harness the power of this historic shoe design.