Retro footwear is a big thing for us here at Balcony Shirts, and with this in mind we stock what we think are some of the coolest shoes that you will ever see :-
While serving as an officer in The British Army in the 1940s Nathan Clark took note of the shoes that soldiers were having made at Cairo’s Khan el-Khalili bazaar. That might seem like a funny thing to observe – but he was a member of the family behind the famous Clarks footwear company, so he noticed such things. Suitably inspired he designed a suede lace-up shoe that he called The Desert Boot, which was adopted by the mods in the 1960s and also worn by the likes of Bob Dylan and Steve McQueen. And let’s face it – if they’re good enough for Bob ‘n’ Steve then they’re definitely good enough for us.
J. Sparkes-Hall invented what we now know as Chelsea Boots when 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. He patented them in 1851, claiming that Queen Victoria ‘walks in them daily and thus gives the strongest proof of the value she attaches to the invention’. Over a hundred years later four lads from Liverpool ordered some with Cuban heels – these are often referred to as ‘Beatle Boots’. And they were the footwear of choice for Darth Vader’s Stormtroopers in the Star Wars films – white ones of course.
John Dunlop’s Liverpool Rubber Company discovered and patented a way of sticking rubber to canvas in 1870 which led to the invention of the plimsole, revolutionising footwear in the process. However by the 1930s this patent was coming to an end so they came up with Dunlop Green Flash training shoes, becoming one of the first brands to benefit from a celebrity endorsement when British tennis player Fred Perry won three consecutive Wimbledon Mens Tennis Titles in 1934, 1935 and 1936. Since then over 25 million pairs of Green Flash have been sold, sadly not all by us. And we also stock the classic white lace-up and black slip-on plimsoles that we all remember from school. You know the ones. Incidentally did you know that plimsoles (or plimsolls, you can spell it either way depending on where you are in the World) got their name because the horizontal band that joins the upper to the sole looked a bit like the Plimsoll Line on a ship’s hull? And of course, like on a ship, if water gets above the line then your feet get wet…
Well we’ve never been to the desert, don’t support Chelsea and haven’t got a clue how to play tennis, but we love these shoes and we’re sure that you will too. And am I the only person who thinks that it’s funny that we sell Desert Boots in the middle of Winter?