Who Invented Our Standard Shoe Sizes?


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Claire Pateman Profile
Claire Pateman answered
Unfortunately, there is no one standard shoe size. Shoes are actually marked according to one of three different length sizing systems. The one that is used depends on where the shoes were made. 

The three major shoe size systems, currently in use, are United Kingdom, American and Continental.

The First Shoe Sizing System By Randle Holme

The first description of a shoe sizing system in England was made by British genealogist Randle Holme in 1688. The UK System starts from zero, at 102 mm, with 8.4mm between whole sizes. Adults sizes range from size 1 to size 15 .

The first shoe sizing system with detailed measurements was by Edwin B Simpson of New York in 1880. 
The need to introduce a size system had arisen during the American Civil War (1861-65) where mass-produced shoes were made in left and rights for the first time. To make it easier for the Army to order shoes for their servicemen, each soldier was allocated a shoe size as well as a name tag. 
The US shoe industry still uses Imperial measurements and each manufacturer determines how large a certain size will be. This was originally to encourage customer loyalty. The only standardisation is each full size is 1/3 of an inch longer than the previous size. Women's shoes are marked 1 1/2 sizes different than men's.
The Europeans use a metric system and hence each full size (or two thirds of a centimetre) is less than a full size but more than the half size. 
Gabriel Mouton, a French vicar, first introduced the metric system in 1670. In 1801, after several modifications, the French officially adopted the measurement system. The French system does not support half sizes. Infant sizes start at size 15 (equivalent to 0) and each size then progresses by two thirds of a centimetre.

To try to standardize shoe sizes, there has been another system designed, known as Mondopoint. 
The sizes are based on millimetres. Shoes are described as 255/98 or 255 millimetres long and 98 millimetres broad. Sizes progress from the smallest to the largest, from children's through to adults without interruption. 
America appears to be the only country that wants to retain Imperial measurements and, while they do, there will always be more than one shoe size system.

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