Do you know the biggest difference between the shoes of today and those of 100 years ago?
Of course you do:
Today there is a difference between shoes that go on the right and left feet. Shoes in the old days were just straight and you’d choose which shoe went on which foot. Apart from that, the shoe industry has of course changed a lot technically as well.
“Today we just put a shoe into a machine. It hisses a little and then the shoe is done,” says Peter Grandin at Kumla skoindustrimuseum (the Shoe Industrial Museum in Kumla), a museum that’s quite unique since it is the only one of its kind in Scandinavia. It shows not only the history of shoes from the Middle Ages to today, but also the development of the shoe industry, the architecture of the shoe factories in the world, and shoe fashion from 1890 to 1990. Peter Grandin makes shoes the old-fashioned way to show visitors how it was done. He cuts the leather with the help of molds and a press, which in the old days was hazardous since it meant you could cut your fingers off, too. There were up to 800 daily accidents when the shoe business was flourishing in Sweden. Toward the end of the 1940s there were over 250 shoe factories in Sweden, half of them located in Örebro and Kumla. The most well-known was the Oscaria factory, which is located in Örebro but today is home for the Virginska skolan. When the factory in Kumla closed in 1987, personnel were asked not to clean up but to leave it like it was so it would look like the factory was still in business. And in a way it is, though today it's a museum where shoes are made only on a smaller scale for the visitors to see.