You might not lose sleep trying to figure out who invented galoshes. But in our industry, there is quite a difference of opinion. The history of overshoes is not as simple as you might think. In fact, much of the disagreement stems from the terms used. Whether you call them galoshes, overshoes, shoe covers, or something else does play into your understanding of history.
For the record, the word 'galoshes' comes from the Gaulish 'gallicae'. This is not to say that shoe covers worn by Gauls were the direct predecessor to our modern galoshes. It is simply to say that one of the men credited with inventing our modern overshoes used the word as a reference to earlier protective shoes made popular at the time of the Gauls and Romans.
Overshoes vs. Regular Shoes
At this point, it is necessary to differentiate between overshoes and regular shoes. Archaeological and anthropological research has shown that indigenous peoples in both North and South America were making protective footwear centuries ago. Yet their footwear was not likely designed in the overshoe style.
In other words, those indigenous peoples were not wearing a second pair of shoes over a first pair. Instead, they made regular shoes specifically for bad weather. History even suggests that some Amazonian tribes experimented with rubber, though there is no definitive proof to that effect.
As for overshoes, they don't seem to have come onto the scene until the early Middle Ages. Interestingly enough, they appeared in both Europe and Asia during that time. Shoemakers on both continents were making protective shoes to be worn over a person's regular shoes.
Some of the earliest overshoes in Europe were known as pattens. They featured wooden bases with tall heels designed to keep the wearer's feet out of the mud and muck of the streets. Pedestal shoes were similar.
The Birth of Modern Galoshes
The history of galoshes supposedly dates back to ancient Egypt when overshoes were made by pouring liquid rubber onto wooden molds. Modern galoshes are attributed to one of two inventors, an Englishman by the name of Radley and another by the name of Alvin Rickman. The latter apparently obtained a patent for his rubber galoshes in 1898.
It is believed that this is where the term 'galoshes' actually came from. It is said that Radley came up with his idea after reading about Roman and Egyptian rubberized shoes. The Roman versions were known as 'gallicae'. They were apparently rubber shoes that fit over a Roman soldier's normal footwear.
Of course, all of this is speculation aided by a limited amount of archaeological and anthropological research. It could be completely accurate. It could also be completely wrong. That fact is that we don't know for sure where galoshes actually came from. There are too many holes in the record along with plenty of legends.
Galoshes Do the Job
From our perspective, settling the question of who invented galoshes is less important than making products that work. We can unequivocally say that our galoshes do the job. We carry both slip-on overshoe and zip overshoe models in a variety of sizes. Our galoshes are made with the latest materials to provide maximum waterproofing and comfort.
A good pair of galoshes protects your shoes against rain, snow, road salt, and grime. They take the punishment so that your shoes stay looking brand-new. We think they are more convenient than rain boots and, in most cases, easier to use as well.
So, who invented galoshes? No one really knows. It doesn't matter anyway. What matters is that you have a pair to cover your shoes during inclement weather.