Klomps, Clogs, Wooden Shoes…you know you love the idea of them and I would say that pretty much everyone knows what a clog is. They are most typically Dutch and simply wonderful. Not quite sure they are 100% practical for Dutch people or for any other kinds of people however they hold a stable part of the Dutch culture just as much as tulips, windmills and cheese.
A klomp is a clog from the Netherlands. Klompen are whole feet clogs. I even carry one with me everyday! (Along with my Albert Heijn trolley key which doesn’t fit anything in England, Eiffel Tower Keyring and VFest Lanyard!)
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a clog as a “thick piece of wood”. They made their debut as an ‘early’ shoe centuries ago with its original invention not quiet know. In terms of Holland and The Netherlands According to WoodenShoes.com the oldest wooden shoe comes from a different dyke, the Nieuwendijk in Amsterdam in 1230 made of alder wood. We can allege that the wooden shoe in its current form has been in existence for about 800 years. – How amazing is that!
About 3 million pairs of klompen are made each year in the Netherlands. Largely sold as tourist souvenirs however some Dutch people, particularly farmers and gardeners still wear them for everyday use. In the Cheese Shop in Zwijndrecht the Cheese Farmer wears them to work in.
Here is a picture from 2012 of me in the Cheese Shop! –>
Serious Note: The traditional all-wooden Dutch clogs have been officially accredited as safety shoes with the CE mark and can withstand almost any penetration including sharp objects and concentrated acids. They are actually safer than steelcapped protective shoes in some circumstances, as the wood cracks rather than dents in extreme accidents, allowing easy removal of the clog and not continued pressure on the toes by the (edge of) the steel nose.
It was a whole 5 years until I went to an actual Klompen Factory. The one I visited was in Dussen called Den Dekker. It was an amazing place. You walked into the shop and there was hundreds of racks of clogs all in bright vivid primary colours. Plain wooden clogs lined the ceiling in pairs and the smell of the entire place was outstanding! Den Dekker offers lots of different activities and when we went there where tables all lined up for children to pain a clog which I thought was so sweet and secretly wanted to pain one myself!
In the back room was the planes and the Klompen Man (yes he was wearing a pair himself!). The skill and craftsmanship is outstanding! Needless to say I brought a pair.
Mine are White. My friend, who is Dutch and didn’t already own a pair, had Orange. They are surprisingly SO comfortable! Moulded exactly to the same as my shoe size (note: They make your feel look HUGE!! Oh and he didn’t drive in them for you safety conscious geeks out there! “The bridge was open!” and we where stuck in traffic!).
I’ve been told that each colour of the Klompen refers to a different use but after trawling the internet I cant find any actual source that backs it up or goes into more detail. Even so here is what I have been told (I still think its super cute so I’m going to believe it any way).
White Klompen – Housewife Clogs
Red Klompen – Tulip Picker Clogs
Yellow Klompen – Cheese Farmer Clogs
There is even a Klompenmuseum too! And in literally all Tourist-Attraction places there is a giant one you can sit in!
I have become somewhat infatuated with clogs now, its even became and affectionate little nickname for my buddy, Even now if I ask Siri to “Call Klomp Jongen” it will dial him immediately. Last year I had a present of some Clog Slippers too. This is just a quirky part of their history that I just absolutely love!
We have a little saying in the Black Country, where I live, research Peaky Blinders and that basically sums up my heritage, that is “What are you doing clomping about?” which basically means stomping around and making a noise. I like to think that this, however loosely, refers to the Dutch klompen in the fact that they are noisy and somewhat awkward to walk in.
p.s. I’ve been somewhat photo happy in this post!