Chelsea boots have long been a staple part of many a man’s wardrobe. Perfect for both casual and formal wear, the popular ankle-high boots have become synonymous with comfort, durability and timeless style.
But did you know the Chelsea boot has a rich history that dates as far back as Victorian times? They were also the footwear of choice for England’s longest serving monarch, the most famous music act of all time and Imperial Stormtroopers from the original Star Wars trilogy.
J. Sparkes-Hall, bootmaker to Queen Victoria back in 1837 is credited with inventing what we now know as the Chelsea boot. The development of vulcanized rubber gave him the idea to produce an elastic sided boot that could be slipped in and out of with minimal effort.
In the patent Sparkes-Hall filed for his creation in 1851, he claimed ‘She (Queen Victoria) walks in them daily and thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention’.
The trend for elastic sided boots caught on, originally as footwear for riding horses but becoming an outright fashion trend by the late 1840s, right up to the onset of the First World War in 1914.
During the 1960s, young people in Britain had more money than ever and fashion very much came to the fore. Image-conscious youths (known as Mods) strolled around in tailored suits, drove customised scooters and wore only the most fashionable shoes with Chelsea boots being the footwear of choice.
Although it’s impossible to pinpoint exactly why Chelsea boots were seen as the height of Mod fashion, it’s thought that influences from French and Italian culture played a big part combined with the then-popular American greaser look, synonymous with leather-clad bikers.
Of course it also helped that quite a well known rock & roll band of the time called The Beatles were often pictured sporting the boots.
With their classically-manufactured look, the last thing you’d associate with Chelsea boots is the most famous science fiction franchise of all time, but believe it or not they featured prominently in George Lucas’s multi-billion pound Star Wars trilogy.
The boots can be seen in all three original films, worn by the stormtroopers of Darth Vader’s Empire. However, the black boots had to be stained white to fit the futuristic costume.
Chelsea boots today
In modern times, Chelsea boots remain incredibly popular, offering excellent value due to their cleverly constructed design, which keeps them looking and feeling better for longer.
Samuel Windsor have an excellent collection of Chelsea boots, so make sure you visit our online store to view the complete range.