chukkas

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Vans/Supreme

       This Spring, Supreme will release three styles of Vans – the SK8-Hi, the Chukka and the Era – utilizing original album artwork from New Order’s iconic 1983 release Power, Corruption & Lies. The album’s cover was designed by English art director Peter Saville and incorporates the 19th century painting “A Basket of Roses” by French artist Henri Fantin-Latour.

The Chukka and The Era will feature canvas uppers with leather lining and in-soles. The SK8-Hi will feature premium suede/canvas uppers with leather lining and in-soles.

Available in-store in NY, LA, London and online on March 7th.

Available in Japan on March 9th.     
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Chukkas for Fall

Fall for me is about boots. Brass-buckled tan jodhpurs worn with olive moleskins; shell cordovan balmoral boots, in that perfect tone of reddish brown, worn with grey flannel trousers; and handsewn, chunky moc-toe boots worn with dark blue jeans. There are dozens of styles, but the most versatile and easy-to-wear of them all is the chukka. Brought over from India by the British Raj, these were named “chukkas” after the playing period in polo. They were quite popular in the 1940s and 1950s, and today can still be worn with a wide range of ensembles – anything from chinos to jeans to wool trousers, put together with something as dressy as a sport coat or as casual a four-pocket field jacket. They can even be worn with suits, although it’s advisable to stick with more “casual” varieties, such as ones made from flannel, linen, or tweed, rather than smooth, lightweight worsted wools.

There are number of good options to consider. For those on a budget, I recommend Loake or Meermin. Loake has two models: the Kempton, which is built on the round toe 026 last, and the Pimlico, which is built on the slightly sleeker, soft-square toe Capital. These are also available rebranded as the Harwood at Charles Trywhitt, as well as the Gosforth and Barrow from Herring. Meermin, on the other hand, has two suede models on their Rui last, which is a round toe design you can more closely inspect here. If you happen to not like the Rui, Meermin can also custom build you a chukka with any last, leather, and sole you wish for a small surcharge. Just drop them a note through their website to order. Their quality is just as good, if not considerably better once you go made-to-order, as Loake’s. 

If you’re willing to spend a little bit more money, there’s a wider range of options. Allen Edmonds, for example, has their Malvern on sale for about $250. For a few hundred dollars more, there’s a number of designs at Crockett and Jones, which you can peruse by doing a search on their website for “chukkas.” My favorite from them is probably the Brecon, a country calf leather boot built on a Dainite sole. It’s a very rustic shoe that can be successfully paired with corduroys, moleskins, and jeans. For something sleeker, check out Kent Wang, who has something similar to the Crockett and Jones’ Tetbury for about $350. Additionally, there’s this handsome shell cordovan version from Alden. If you want one, but can’t afford the price, you can have something similar made through Meermin, custom ordered, for about half the cost.

Of course, those just scratch the surface of the most basic models available. There’s also crepe rubber soled chukkas, which are an incredible pleasure to walk on. Like other well made shoes, these can last years and years if properly taken care of and given regular resolings. Simple, basic designs include Clark’s Desert Boots, Church’s Sahara, Loake’s Campden, and A Suitable Wardrobe’s Easy Fitting Chukka. For something lighter and more breathable, try ones that are unlined. Unlined chukkas lack structure around the uppers, so they feel more like slippers. Models here include Allen Edmonds’ Amok and Alden’s 1494. The Amok is noticeably sleeker, but I find more charm in Alden’s wider 1494 version. Crockett and Jones also has unlined models called the Milton and Hartland, as well as one simply named the “Chukka.” All of those are available for view on their website and for purchase through their New York City store.

Whatever you choose, I encourage you to pick up a pair (if you don’t already own some) and try wearing them this fall with jeans and tweeds, corduroys and Shetland sweaters, and wool trousers and waxed cotton coats. In a smooth brown calfskin or russet shade of suede, these can be some of the most versatile shoes you will ever own. 

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Please Mistreat Your Suede Shoes

I’m bad luck for wedding weather. Maybe one of the dozen or so weddings I’ve been to in the last few years had stock-wedding-photography-perfect weather. All the others: rain and thunder. I brought the rain to another wedding recently, one that ended up, after hours of hard rain, an ankle-deep mud party with barefoot guests and a bluegrass band strumming “Sugaree.” So: gorgeous.

I never took my shoes off, and I don’t regret it. A stiff brush, some suede cleaner, and 20 minutes of work and my Alfred Sargent chukkas were good as new. Better than new, in fact–not unblemished but instead imbued with the character of a memorable day. We’ve posted before about cleaning your suede shoes; in this case, I took these steps:

  •  let the mud dry on the shoes for about 48 hours
  •  used a stiff brush to break up and a dislodge the mud
  •  brushed on the Saphir shampoo solution, lathered, and scrubbed
  •  rinsed, using a bristle dauber and a tub of water
  •  patted them with paper towels to remove excess water
  •  put newspaper and shoe trees inside and let them dry overnight
  •  brushed again with a gentler suede brush

I did not waterproof these in advance, although that probably would’ve helped. I’ve had the chukkas since 2011, wear them all the damn time, and look forward to many more beautiful years together. 

-Pete

The Very Useful Chukka

Of all the shoes I’ve ever owned, I don’t think any have been as useful as these plain, simple chukkas. They’re Crockett & Jones Brecons, which I bought six or seven years ago. Since then, I’ve worn them about once or twice a week – mainly in the colder months – and have paired them with everything from sport coats and flannel trousers to leather jackets and jeans.

What makes the particularly versatile is the toe shape. Sleek, but not overly so, they go as well with tailored clothing as they do with casualwear. You can compare their dressiness, for example, to more casual kinds of ankle boots, such as Clarks’ Desert boots and Alden’s unlined chukkas.

My friend David also mentioned to me once that he thought chukkas look better in textured materials – such as suede or pebble grain leathers. I think he’s right. Texture helps break up the otherwise plain vamp, and makes the boots feel a little more at home with rustic tweed jackets and Barbour coats. Smooth black calf is good for George boots (a type of chukka with a tall shaft) but for anything brown, I’d recommend getting something fuzzy or pebbled.

If you get a pair with Dainite soles, you can even use them as wet weather boots or travel shoes. Dainite can be a little more comfortable on long walks than hard leather bottoms, and if you’re traveling, having a pair of shoes that can be worn with a wide range of clothing styles can be useful. Plus, the simple eyelet system and open throat design makes chukkas easy to slip in and out of at airports (at least compared to their more laced-up cousins).

If you’re looking for a pair of Dainite soled chukkas, this Brecon model can be bought from Crockett & Jones or Pediwear. Skoaktiebolaget and Gentlemen’s Footwear also have some nice models from the popular Spanish shoemaker Carmina. For something more affordable, consider Loake’s Pimlico and Kempton. They’re essentially the same boot, but built on different lasts (this StyleForum member has a nice comparison of the two). Lastly, there’s Meermin, who I think offers the best bang-for-your-buck in footwear. At the moment, they only have a mid-brown suede version, but if you contact them, they might be able to put together a group made-to-order project for other materials.