1) Should I be looking at this as a personal quirk of the character's, or would it be plausible during this period for him to have grown up in an area of China where the sandal/some open-toed shoe was the most common footwear?
2) If it would be at all plausible, what sort of region/class/family profession, etc. would he have to come out of for this to have been the case? (Nearly nothing is known about the character's past, so I can pretty much get away with having him come from any sort of background.)
I looked through little_details's tags and googled the following: Various combinations of the words China, Chinese, traditional, men's, male, shoes, slippers, sandals, footwear, costume, clothes, fashion, 1800s, 19th century, Qing, Qing dynasty. I didn't turn up much besides articles about court clothing and foot binding.