Everyone slipped into a pair of Anne Kals Minus Heel Shoes in the 70s, but nobody called them that. Making their American debut in 1970, around the time of the very first Earth Day, the shoes were renamed after the environmentally-conscious movement and dubbed ‘Earth shoes’.
The ergonomically-designed Earth shoes were actually created in 1957 by Anne Kals, a yoga instructor in Copenhagen, Denmark.
The orthopaedic shoes featured a “negative heel”, which lifted the toes higher than the heel (“the way your feet were born to walk” according to the ads). This slope mimicked the angle of the foot when walking in sand, touted as a superior posture.
The holders of the US license (and those responsible for the name change), Raymond and Eleanor Jacobs, opened their first store in New York City in conjunction with the Earth Day celebration of 1970. Business boomed, and the Earth shoe was on every foot that wasn’t cramming into platform heels.
Earth shoes were not fashionable, nor attractive, but they were perfect for the health-conscious craze that was sweeping the nation.
Along with Birkenstocks, Earth shoes were kind to tired feet and became a fast fad with the hippie movement. Unfortunately, the Earth shoe extravaganza fell from grace by 1976 and the company filed for bankruptcy.