Simple, classic and refined, the Chukka boot is a hugely popular style thanks to its high levels of comfort and versatility.
Identifying a Chukka
While the style has evolved and taken on many forms over the years, the classic Chukka boots are ankle height and made from leather or suede. Traditionally, the style is unlined with rounded toes, but more chisel toed variations exist, feature Derby lacing with no more than three sets of eyelets. Classic Chukka boots tend to have leather or rubber Dainite soles, however a distinct subset of chukka boots, Desert boots, are a very popular variation of the Chukka that feature a crepe rubber soles.
The History of Chukka Boots
Chukka boots are a fairly modern style when compared to styles like Oxfords or Derbys. You can trace its origin to the sport of Polo where a Chukker or Chukka is a seven and a half minute playing period. Chukka boots themselves also resemble the Jodhpur style worn by Polo players and they became very popular among off-duty players thanks to their high levels of comfort.
The popularity of Chukka boots as an everyday men’s style began in the late 1940s, largely thanks to the introduction of the Clark’s Desert Boot at the 1949 Chicago Shoe Fair. The Clark’s Desert boot was inspired by the boots worn by British Army soldiers during the Western Desert Campaign of the second world war. These boots were manufactured for British Army officers in Cario’s Khan el-Khalili bazaar and featured distinctive crepe rubber soles. The style itself took its inspiration from a popular South African boot style known as Veldskoen. The boots have Nathan Clark to thank for their jump from military service to wardrobe staple. While serving as an infantryman during the war, Clark noticed Eighth Army officers wearing the boots and liking the design, he took it back to his family’s company to begin production.
The boots quickly took off as a fashion must-have throughout the 1950s and 60s gaining popularity in Mod subculture and among actors and celebrities such as Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen. Today, Chukka boots remain a highly popular style among men thanks to their comfort and position as a halfway point between trainers and dress shoes.
Of all the Chukka boots we sell here at the British Shoe Company, the Sanders Hi-Top is the most unique style, This is something a bit different, it has all the hallmarks of a Desert boot, A soft suede upper and a crepe sole, but it had a couple of differences, A thicker crepe sole and a matching crepe foxing, that, to this day, gives the Sanders Hi-Top its distinctive look.