The Shoe Files: Desert Boots


Desert boots are a classic British staple, both for the cooler months and all year round. They are a smart/casual boot usually made from rough suede, though they are also made in more hardwearing leather types.

The Anatomy of Desert Boots

Desert boots are a form of chukka boots. Like other styles of chukkas, desert boots are ankle high boots that feature open lacing. They generally have just two or three pairs of eyelets.

Desert boots are distinctive thanks to their soles. The soles of desert boots are always made from crepe rubber.

The History of Desert Boots

This style of boot was originally worn by British soldiers during the Western Desert Campaign in World War Two, hence the name. Thanks to their crepe sole, the original soldier-favoured boots were both lightweight and grippy enough to wear on sandy terrain.

These shoes were brought to the UK market after the war thanks to Nathan Clark, member of the well known British shoemaking family. Nathan Clark was stationed in Northern Africa during World War Two, and so became very familiar with desert boots.

After the war, when Clark returned to the UK, he worked with shoemakers here to recreate the boots, officially unveiling the Clark’s Desert Boot at the 1949 Chicago Shoe Fair. Thanks to some very favourable coverage in Esquire, desert boots massively grew in popularity over the 1950s, and they’re still very popular today.

How to Wear Desert Boots

Not sure how to style your desert boots? For a sophisticated weekend look, wear them with rolled chinos and  a sweater. If you’re aiming for something a little smarter, we think black desert boots look brilliant paired with a black suit and a dress shirt.

Want more desert boot inspiration? Take a look at our boot collection.

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