Chapter

Fashionable Footwear: Craftsmen and Consumers in the North-West Provinces of the Roman Empire

Carol van Driel-Murray

in Urban Craftsmen and Traders in the Roman World

Published in print January 2016 | ISBN: 9780198748489
Published online March 2016 | e-ISBN: 9780191811104 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198748489.003.0007

Series: Oxford Studies on the Roman Economy

Fashionable Footwear: Craftsmen and Consumers in the North-West Provinces of the Roman Empire

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This chapter focuses on the footwear economy and uses consumer theory to sketch the economic landscape in which shoemakers operated in, particularly, the Roman Europe. Starting from the observation that there were empire-wide trends in footwear design, the chapter argues that shop-bought shoes were widely accessible for men, women, and children alike, and that the footwear economy of Roman Europe should be seen as a consumer economy, with craftsmen adapting their strategies to diversified and changing consumer demand, sometimes customizing their designs to specific needs of individual consumers, but more often following standardized decorative patterns that allowed for a reasonably high productivity. It is also emphasized that the leather economy seems to have remained an economy of outsiders: after the collapse of Roman rule, leatherworking technology seems to have disappeared.

Keywords: Roman craftsmen; Roman traders; Roman economy; shoes; footwear; leatherwork; Roman Europe

Chapter.  6561 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical History

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