Fashion trend has roots in ancient history

Talk about recycling an old fashion! This is a whole new take on the modernizing of, say, bell-bottoms.

Ausannette Garcia takes a break from shopping
at the Mall of America to show off her $40 gladiator
sandals from Urban Outfitters.

Photo by Tony Zappia

Gladiator footwear was serious business 2,000 years ago when Roman warriors would wear them during battles, complete with over-the-knee plates to protect their shins.

Today they are spreading quickly from retail stores to the streets with prices as low as $20 to as high as hundreds of dollars.

Shoes are believed to have first come into existence about 40,000 years ago, according to research done by Erik Trinkaus, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Talk about recycling an old fashion! This is a whole new take on the modernizing of, say, bell-bottoms.

Styles range from popular designers Jimmy Choo’s studded, zippered concoctions to Christian Dior’s polished, lady-like style to Chanel’s knee high, gold-colored leather.

Steve Madden Devine sandals run $89.95 on
the company’s web site:

Photo by Tony Zappia

Ausannette Garcia, a Mall of America customer, proudly strutted around in her black, ankle-high, strappy gladiator sandals. Garcia loves how comfortable they are and said she bought the sandals because they were affordable and she liked the style.

Laura VanBeck, a clothing employee at Nordstrom, also wears the sandals. “I love them, (they’re) very comfortable,” she said. “I got mine from Steve Madden here at the mall.”

According to, a fashion accessory Web site, gladiator sandals are all over the runway this season.

But the popularity seemingly has not crossed over to men. Kelly Grove, an assistant manager at Nordstrom for three years, said the sandals are more popular with women than men. “Men usually stay traditional by wearing flips-flops or the walking sandal,” he said.

It’s possible this trend started when Brad Pitt and Russell Crowe wore the sandals in movies set in ancient Greece and Rome, in “Troy” and “Gladiator” respectively.

But the list of celebrities wearing this modern version of the sandal ranges from 17-year-old, girl-next-door Vanessa Hudgens to husband-dating, Brit femme fatale Sienna Miller.

But this trend, like others, probably will have a relatively short shelf life.

“Five years from now they won’t be the ‘it’ item,” Grove said.