The emergence of the ‘Chukka boot’ truly began with Nathan Clark and the brand Clarks. When he was stationed in Burma, and serving the British army, Nathan Clark noticed a very specific type of boot that was being worn by off-duty officers. The boots were made in Cairo, soon enough they became part of the official uniform and replaced the old footwear of choice. The boots worn by the soldiers had to withstand the harsh conditions of the desert – this is how the boots got their name.
It was only in the 1950’s that the Clarks boot became a ‘fashion accessory’ – as before it was worn purely because of its practicality. It’s important to note that Clarks may have been the brand to put the ‘Chukka boot’ on the map, but it was the ‘veldskoen’ that spawned the category. Veldskoen or ‘velle’ was first noticed by the colonialists when observing the shoes worn by the Khoisan people.
On the other hand,Sneakers, emerged much earlier and in the realm of sporting events. The first variant of sneakers was created as early as the 1830’s – the Plimsoll shoe. The shoe was an athletic shoe, with a canvas upper and rubber soles. The composition of the sneakers made them ideal for sportsmen – especially those who played on courts, such as croquet and tennis players. The Plimsoll was a catalyst for many other variations of ‘the sneaker’ that were to emerge later.
The shift in styles can be explained due to the versatility of boot – it can be worn by anyone from any facet of life, there are no limitations. Worn by street dancers, celebrities and business men, the ‘desert boot’ is making a come-back and we’re on board!