William (Boy) Habraken discovered the answer
that is hidden under many layers of history which lead us back
in time to the creation of man himself…
Boy Habraken was born at the end of World War II in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. After his education he started working as a representative for the shoe wholesale company belonging to his father. After his military service he started his own import/wholesale company.
He stood at the foundation of some of the largest companies in the shoe industry of Europe and is still involved in some of them, though in an advisory role in the background.
The expansion of his businesses took him to every corner of the world over the past 40 years. He visited more than 120 countries and lived in Taiwan in the early seventies. In his spare time he collected footwear that belonged to traditional costumes, where the background information on the materials, production method, usage, age and local name was equally important as the shoes themselves.
All this led up to a unique collection consisting of more than 2,500 pairs of shoes from 155 countries, states and regions. In 2006 he was officially recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the holder of the world record for the largest collection of Tribal and Ethnic Footwear.
He also collected hundreds of books on footwear and traditional costumes of which some artifacts are hundreds of years old. Even though he discovered several good books on the topic of footwear in general, in which some ethnic footwear was discussed, there was no book available on ethnic footwear specifically.
At the request of family members, friends and many visitors to his private museum he decided to write a book on this subject himself.
The preparation of his book Tribal and Ethnic Footwear of the World led him, among others, to the question: “who wore the first shoes?”
In search of the answer to that question, he has travelled the world numerous times again, this time however with a different angle on collecting footwear than before.
He discovered the answer is hidden under many layers of history which lead us back in time to the creation of man himself…