Hardwearing, trustworthy and practical – but leather boots aren’t exciting – right? Wrong.
Leather boots have set the world alight – and if you’re not convinced, read on to find out how.
Most iconic boots
No pair of leather boots can compete with the good ol’ American cowboy boot – the most recognisable boot on earth. And when it comes to the companies that create this most flamboyant of footwear, there’s one that stands out.
Justin cowboy boots, were the first. In 1879, the young H.L. ‘Big daddy Joe’ Justin left his hometown of Lafayette to travel to Spanish Fort, Texas. Originally a shoe repairer, he soon set up shop on his own, supplying cowpokes with boots for work and leisure. But it was his wife Annie who really got his business up and riding.
She invented a ‘fit kit’ that consisted of a tape measure and measuring instructions for ordering a pair of bespoke boots. Given away by cowboys as they went from ranch to ranch, the word spread with the cattle drive.
Most famous boot
Chelsea boots – as worn by The Beatles
The Beatles were a phenomena. The first true super group, they spearheaded the 1960s youth revolution that endures to this day. Their music was like nothing that had gone before – and the same goes for their footwear choice – specifically chelsea boots.
They took this classic design and with the help of designers Anello and Davide, they created the Beatle boot. A high cuban heel and super pointy toe, Beatle boots raised the game. People queued around the block to be measured for a pair and even today, many celebs can be seen sporting Beetles, customised to their own opulent taste.
The highest soles
When Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay conquered Everest on 29th May 1953, they did so thanks in part to the fact that their feet didn’t freeze. Their heavily insulated boots had a revolutionary inner vapour barrier that stopped sweat from their feet turning to ice.
The insulating material was kapok – a naturally occurring hollow fibre since replicated by synthetic fabric technologies. The boots were cutting edge in their day – they weighed in at just 4lb 4oz. Nobody who wore them during the expedition suffered frostbite – truly a ‘highpoint’ of 1950s innovation.
Most heroic boots
Image source: Rachwal
Heroic army boots
The British armed forces may be the best trained service personnel on the planet – but an army is only ever as effective as the boots it marches in. Earlier this year, the MOD announced new brown leather boots for troops from all three services.
There will be five variants to cover all deployments, from desert warfare in 40 degree heat to operations in cold, wet climates where temperatures can slip as low as minus 20 C.
For purists who worry about the move to brown leather boots – fear not. Spit and polished black boots will still be de rigeur for parade duty.
Found in an Armenian cave, the world’s oldest leather footwear is believed to date from 3500 BC. The boot is incredibly rare because organic materials usually rot away in a short time. This artifact was preserved partly because it was buried in sheep dung and partly because of the extreme dryness of the environment in which it was found.
Made of just one piece of leather, the boot has been described as amazingly modern in its design. Perhaps that shouldn’t surprise us – after all, there’s nothing particularly new about the human foot.
Out of this world
Micheal Jackson wore penny loafers for his moonwalks, but what about the men who actually walked on the moon?
The boots worn by astronauts may not have so much as a single strip of leather in their whole construction but, if you’re walking in space, your boots need to be out of this world.
According to NASA, lunar boots are slip ons with soles made of materials that reduce the transfer of heat from the surface of the moon. The uppers are made from metal woven fabric designed to resist high temperatures and abrasion. They only come in white.
Image source: Sue Hixson
The world’s best football boot
Awarded to the top goal scorer at the World Cup, the golden boot is one of the most prized trophies in football. To win it requires an extraordinary exhibition of skill and composure, in the unforgiving arena of the planet’s ultimate football tournament.
The golden boot has been won by talents like Ronaldo and Gary Lineker, but has passed other great talents by. Maradona never won it – neither did the greatest footballer of all time – Pele.