Around Christmas, at my other half’s behest, I tackled the black-and-brown leather Jenga tower of previous boots in the cupboard underneath the stairs. I’ve often preferred boots to sneakers — an ankle boot says additional about its owner than your regular loafer or lace-up — but even I, hapless hoarder and design obsessive, could admit that the 15 or so pairs stacked precariously about the boiler felt pointless.
The activity of distilling my erstwhile collection was designed just about palatable by my most current acquisition, a pair of John Lobb’s Lawry boots in polished black calf. To me, they are the epitome of timeless Chelsea boots beautifully created with tasteful almond-shaped toes (neither way too spherical, nor as well pointed), a sweeping line via the boot’s waistline into shut-fitting heels, and a top quality of leather that stands up to the most straightforward of silhouettes. I have found them so handy they have convinced me to allow go of the majority of my stockpile — a real New Year’s miracle.
With 2023 marching on, it is as fantastic a time as any to think about your individual footwear refresh. If, like me, you require “one pair that’ll do everything”, Chelsea boots are a reasonable starting up position — uncomplicated to have on with possibly tailoring or informal pieces. Really don’t just acquire my term for it, both. Chelseas are the go-to of MatchesFashion’s head of menswear, Damien Paul. “I appreciate a present day Chelsea, specifically with a little bit of heel from brands like Lemaire,” he suggests. “It’s an very adaptable boot — you can conveniently choose it from working day to evening.”
I have a tendency to have on mine with extensive-leg, pleated trousers in large brushed cotton or corduroy, completed with generous convert-ups. Hung neatly at the hems with no split, they glance clean styled with a cashmere sweater and suede blouson. Alternatively, they can be smartened up with a flannel button-down and unstructured double-breasted jacket (this season’s Games blazers from Drake’s are worth a appear).
When John Lobb’s are unashamedly classical, Chelseas from the likes of Tod’s, Loewe and Prada current a chunkier, style-ahead silhouette — feeding into a pattern that is been gathering pace in the latest yrs. “We’re observing a change in customers connecting with fashion interpretations of [footwear] classics,” Paul confirms. “Heavy boots lend a forward-experiencing frame of mind to a pared-again outfit.”
Even aged-college shoemakers have been getting in on the action. Crockett & Jones, the 144-yr-old manufacturer that generates 2,500 pairs of shoes a week in its Northampton manufacturing unit, specialises in robust yet very good-searching boots. The brand name released three pairs of chunky boots with cleated rubber soles in 2018, and now has 24 products obtainable. Gross sales of major-soled boots elevated 170 per cent between 2021 and 2022, the business states.
“Consumers are shopping for these types of boots for their quality and their chunky look and experience,” states Crockett & Jones brand name director James Fox, dialling in from the company’s HQ. “This chunkier model is very relaxed for a Goodyear Welted shoemaker like us . . . but it is still a heritage glance. Our unique rubber sole dates again much more than 100 yrs.”
The company’s rugged Coniston Derby boots, Islay brogue boots and Chelsea 11s in Scotch Grain leather-based all element thick rubber soles. Handle them as dependable weekenders and pair with neatly tapered chinos, cords or washed denim. Thick knitted socks and a well-worn chore coat finish the seem. Rolled-up hems do the job nicely with relaxed boots like these, too — and attract the eye to your extravagant footwear.
There’s also scope to have fun with the size of your heels. Clever, 1970s-style Cuban-heeled boots have been creeping back into vogue for gentlemen, treatment of brand names this sort of as Saint Laurent and Celine. To photographer James Harvey-Kelly, who lives in RM Williams’s block-heeled Yearling boots, they are not one thing to be scared of. “For me, a boot without a Cuban heel feels pedestrian suitable now,” he claims. “I initial acquired mine as a bit of a ‘let’s see’ sort of buy, and I’ve not worn any other boots considering the fact that.”
Unlike a cowboy boot (which even I would struggle to use) this new breed of somewhat retro rock-aristocratic ankle boots are surprisingly reduced-crucial — fantastic with dark customized trousers reduce with a slight taper and cropped hems, a tweedy raglan coat and cosy sweater for a slinky, Bohemian seem.
Of program, there’s an artwork to pairing boots with customized items. Disgraced Australian financier Lex Greensill has a penchant for putting on highly-priced two-piece fits with rugged RM Williams boots — this is the sartorial equivalent of finishing a sole meunière with a jar of Texas Pete’s Hotter Hot Sauce. To get suits with boots appropriate, take your direct from the design and style icons of yesteryear, claims Parisian tailor Nicolas Gabard, whose manufacturer Husbands delivers a masterclass in refined suiting.
“Not all boots work with satisfies. We’re speaking about the types of chukka or Chelsea boot models worn by The Beatles, The Stones, Brian Ferry — they support you to really feel sexier and a lot more assured, and add a new dimension to a suit,” he suggests. Choose a glance at how Husbands mixes tailoring with its Italian-designed ankle boots and you will get the drift. Charcoal chalkstripe or daring Prince-of-Wales test fits with vast lapels and high-waisted trousers are finished with polished black boots, though sporty tweed jackets are layered above cashmere rollnecks and trim white denims, with Cuban heels poking out beneath. It’s a quintessentially Parisian just take on suiting and booting, but it will work brilliantly.
If you are in the mood to channel your inner Alain Delon, commit in a pair of Husbands’ crackled patent leather-based buckle boots, which glimpse like they’ve stepped straight out of the ’70s. “Of course, you’re carrying one thing unanticipated with boots like these, but that’s the level. Design involves using threats,” Gabard concludes.
But what if you’re a sneakerhead? Is there a pair of boots out there for you too? Totally, claims Adam Lewenhaupt, founder of Swedish sneaker manufacturer CQP, which unveiled a selection of specialized sneaker-boot hybrids in Oct. “I feel that for everyone who wears sneakers, this sort of boot is natural to flip to ideal now,” he describes. “They are hugely functional, but carry a sure coolness to bear if done and worn suitable. Technical footwear, matched to much more typical and non-technological outerwear, is an attention-grabbing juxtaposition of kinds. Vibram fulfills cashmere, if you will.”
Of training course, the bravest amid you could consider the thought of juxtaposition a move more. Designer and founder of menswear label LEJ Luke Walker is a passionate advocate of Maison Margiela’s Tabi boots, with their divisive hoof-like silhouette. The design is inspired by a Japanese going for walks sock of the exact same identify, and would make pretty the fashion statement.
“I never like dressing as a solitary character — whether or not which is a person in a fit, or in some sportswear — I like to combine it up,” Walker suggests. “Like traditional boots, Tabis are very well made, in good resources, but there’s anything that’s a bit ‘other’ in the layout. At a length, you’re just putting on a pair of black boots, but up close they have a definitely various silhouette that stands out.”
Choosing your possess best pair of boots is of class a quite own decision, like selecting boxers above briefs, or acquiring the right hairdresser. Whether you look at my late lamented footwear hoard mildly amusing or (as my partner likes to explain to me) faintly unhinged, there’s no denying that fantastic boots — like any other piece of the wardrobe — can be resources to specific a portion of your character. Sure, they must be purposeful, but boots can be enjoyable far too. And, at the risk of sounding like your mother, you can tell a whole lot about a person from his proliferating boot collection.
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