Chukka Boots: Bond’s Favourite Casual Footwear

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Quantum-of-Solace-Chukka-Boots
Brown suede chukka boots in Quantum of Solace

Bond has worn chukka boots in the last four films, from Die Another Day to Skyfall. The classic chukka boot is made in brown suede, and from English makers today they are most often found with Dainite® rubber studded soles. The standard chukka is a two-eyelet design, but they can just as often be found with three eyelets. Bond usually wears them in brown suede, and in Casino Royale and Skyfall he wears chukkas in calf as well. For the most part, Bond’s chukkas have Dainite® studded rubber soles, except the boots in Die Another Day have either soles of leather or a combination of leather and something else. Chukkas are casual boots, and Bond mostly wears them casually. Roger Moore wore them more formally with his country jackets in The Saint. Daniel Craig went even further with them in Skyfall, wearing them with his grey pick-and-pick suit. But balmoral boots, oxford boots or chelsea boots—like Sean Connery wore in Thunderball—are a better match for the formality of a suit.

Desert Boots in Skyfall
Desert boots in Skyfall

In Skyfall, Daniel Craig also wore a variation on the chukka: the desert boot. The desert boot is a chukka—typically suede—with a crepe sole. As the name suggest, they are great to wear in sand. The ankle height prevents sand from getting inside the shoe whilst the crepe soles are very comfortable for walking on sand. Daniel Craig wears his on the beach, but he makes sure they stay dry. On the city pavement crepe soles absorb the dirt off the street and wear out quickly. Craig’s desert boots are light brown suede.

The chukka boot once again returned in Spectre, this time in the form of the Sanders & Sanders “Hi-Top” chukka boots, also known as the “Playboy” chukka boots. The boots are snuff suede with a two-eyelet closure, a full leather lining and crepe soles. Crepe soles are associated more with the desert boot, the chukka boot’s brother. Crepe soles are made of coagulated rubber and are very soft and comfortable and fantastic for the desert, but they’re not a good choice for the city. On pavement they absorb all of the filth, and in the rain they become very slippery. And as the soles age they harden, crack and lose their spongy comfort. The “Playboy” chukka boots are one of Daniel Craig’s Bond’s wardrobe items directly inspired by Steve McQueen.

Spectre-John-Varvatos-Suede-Jacket-3
“Playboy” chukka boots in Spectre

20 COMMENTS

  1. Chukka boots are another staple of my own wardrobe since my student years. Extremely versatile from tweed jackets and whipcord trousers to jeans and a Harrington.
    But more dangerous than bringing dirt back home, the crepe soles are really slippery on a wet pavement!

      • I can support that statement I have a pair of 3 eyelet crepe sole boots and had a very nervy experience once when the ground was wet. There fine on dry days and as mine suede I only wear them in the summer/dryer months. Just have to keep an eye out for dark clouds!

      • I heard that the chukka boot started out as polo-wear. Anyone else have any references to their origin?

      • Ryan, a chukka is a period of play in polo, according to Wikipedia. However, the article did not explain if the chukka boots were worn during play, or when going to or from the polo ground. They were greatly liked by British and Commonwealth troops in the desert during WWII. In my experience, desert boots were v.comfortable but had a short life as the soles didn’t last long on city footpaths.

  2. That’s the main thing: While I want a pair of desert boots (and there’s a particularly nice pair at the local J. Crew) I know for a fact that crepe soles don’t do so well in the city. Any good suggestions for Dainite-soled suede chukkas?

    • Yes. The herring gosforth and gosforth II. They’re actually made in the loake factory in Northampton. There basically a less expensive version of church’s ryder III. They look great in tan grain calf. Only available in f fit.
      herringshoes.co.uk

      • I have an excellent pair from Alfred Sargent made for Brooks Brothers with Dainite soles. The Crockett & Jones Tetbury is a great shoe as well. I’m sure the Herring Gosforth II is a good shoe as well. Loake makes a few chukkas in their 1880 line.

    • Jovan,

      For what it’s worth, I bought the J.Crew desert boot back in Fall ’11 and have worn them, primarily in the city, ever since. While Matt’s assessment that the soles pick up dirt is accurate, mine are yet to wear out and the suede has only gotten better looking with age.

      Therefore I would recommend the pair in question.

  3. I rather like the cushion that Clarks Desert Boots provide, but I agree the crepe wears out within a year or two. While less sleek, the Clarks Wallabee has a much thicker sole, provides more cushion, and lasts longer. But, it’s not very Bond-ian. More of a casual Ivy League chic than Saville Row.

    • I think chukka boots have a more rounded toe than desert boots because they’re made on very similar lasts of that of more formal shoes. It gives them a sturdy appearance. The crocket and jones chukkas matt refers to have a very elegant slightly chiseled toe. Probably why they look good with Daniel Craig suits in skyfall.
      Dessert boots are more soft in structure I find.

      • The Clarks desert boots have been a favourite of mine since 1998, influenced by a good friend who convinced me to change from my then ususal pennyloafers. I have only used 2 pairs since then though I admit having quite a large collection of shoes and change every day for a good rotation so I do not concur on durability issues. A shoe repair store manager even told me the crepe soles could be easily repaired so the first pair might come back! any information on such an operation?

      • I get you. I meant round in toe height whereas some desert boots are quite flat at the toe. It depends on the brand I suppose. The uk brand merc does a very flat and soft drinks toe style. Usually the cheaper brands have this look but point t taken.

  4. Hello Matt, I have a question. I bought a couple of suede boots from Gant about 5 months ago. I wonder if you could tell me what the soles are made of. I know little about shoes, and I’m not able to figure out myself. The soles are pretty stiff, hence the shoes are not as comfortable and long-walk friendly as my other, rubber-soled suedes, and they make a loud and hard clapping sould when walking with them. They are also quite slippery on smooth surfaces. And I wonder if this is what’s called chukka boots or desert boots, or simply suede boots? Here is a link to a picture of the soles: http://postimg.org/image/nw8s7d9f1/

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