A simple item allowing those who need to go barefooted some protection against city stones and sharp things. These items are normally associated with masters of the unarmed combat arts.
In a fantasy world, these items would be adapted from the Beast Folks, the furry people with animal traits who live alongside the Humans and other peoples.
Full Item Description and a Touch of History
A footpaw is the Human name for this item of clothing. Describing it is hard, as it is not something most people would think of wearing.
To begin the visualization, think of a sock. That sock has been cut so it covers only the ball of the foot and part of the arch and of the midfoot. There are holes in the end of the sock allowing the toes to stick out. On the bottom of the sock, is a soft pad of leather/ suede that protects the ball of the foot. This is not exactly what it is, but it gives one an idea.
The question most people ask at this point is "why?
This is footgear for those who are trained in unarmed combat or tumbling/ acrobatics. For maximum movement and balance (and for protecting the training hall floors), they tend to go without shoes or boots. This habit extends to when they leave the training halls, especially if they are expecting trouble. Like an adventurer.
However the world (and even the training hall floor) can be a hard place on the foot. Injuries to the ball of the foot can not only eliminate kicks from the attack options, they can disrupt all your footwork, eliminating many of the advantages that going "free foot" can provide in the first place.
Footpaws provide protection (both from rough surfaces and limited from impact) while still granting "free foot" touch and maneuverability.
A simple and very smooth cloth is used for the Footpaw. It is shaped like that short sock, with the holes for each toe (each footpaw ideally needs to be customized for each wearer). A small pad of leather or suede about the size of the ball of the foot is attached to the bottom. Two or three eyelets are near the top of the Footpaw, allowing one to lace them tight.
If a stretchy cloth is available, like Masklander silk or Lycra or some form of elastic, there is no need for laces
But there is more
The Beast Folks call them Paw Pads. While they do have pads on their feet, cities and roads with their stones and such were hard on them. Even sometimes the natural world was too. The Beast Folks learned of shoes from Humans and such, but they did not work for them.
Given the paw like nature of a beast folks foot and the fact that most are digigrade, conventionally shaped shoes and boots are not an option for them. In addition to protection needs, when they live amongst furless ones, they are expected to wear clothing and shoes appropriate for the culture. The clothing can be made to work, adjusting things for tails and different body types. Footwear is where the illusion is lost. No regular cobbler has boots or shoes that come close. Only the most expert cobbler could make such a garment and even then they would be hideously uncomfortable and expensive. Pawpads became the alternative. Where the combat artist version is silk or cotton (and many Beast Folks wear those too), these PawPads were made of soft leather with finishes like those of boots and shoes. They are often a bit longer, with a split at the bend, continuing short of the dewclaw. The lacing is optional if the leather was firmer.Half Boots
: In an effort to be more stylish, in addition to PawPads matching uppers would be made. The uppers would continue the illusion and would look like the tall parts of a boot. Halfboots are very popular when cuffed boots are the popular style. Note: some PawPad wearers might wear these too.Half Gloves
: Given the difference between clawed and unclawed fingers, regular gloves were never an option for Beast Folks. They often wore gloves with the finger elements cut out. Since sometimes beast folks could still go on all fours, they took to putting paw pads on the palms of their half gloves.
If long gloves are the fashion (or archery bracers are needed) uppers would sometimes be added.
None. This is a mundane item.