The story behind brothel creepers
Unbeknownst to most, these are yet another fashion trend that has made a bold reappearance from 21st century history. The creeper shoe was originally developed by George Cox in 1949 under the name “Hamilton” and was inspired by the crêpe-soled desert boots worn by WWII soldiers posted across the deserts of North Africa. Due to the landscape and extreme climate, the soldiers’ boots had thicker soles, which became popular on their return to England. The term “brothel creepers” was coined from those soldiers who found themselves in darker parts of Soho and King’s Cross to embrace those seedier pastimes.
Despite Clarks’ charming advert, the original crêpe-soled, rough, suede boots were initially made in the markets of Cairo and Burma and bought by soldiers to wear when off-duty. You can see elements of the original desert boot in the brothel creeper such as the rounded toe, the thick sole, the use of suede and the incorporation of only two eyelets. The creepers were really made popular by the Teddy Boys of the 50s, who paired them up with the classic drainpipe jeans, quiff and those rather dashing velvet jackets. Thankfully, unlike those jackets, the creepers are back with a bang for a third go in the fashion world – the second being a period in the 70s when punks took rocking, rolling and rebelling to a new level. The punk culture is well-known for being violent, aggressive and active, so the creeper shoe would have be ideal for favourite pastimes such as looting, protesting and running away from the police. Creepers nowadays are gracing the feet of those celebs who choose to embrace the latest trend of grunge gone a little hipster, such as Rita Ora, Rihanna and Jessie J.
They are a little robust and require a bit of bravery from the wearer, but we at The Upcoming think that the come-back of the creeper shoe in correlation with the hipster movement is most welcome. Preferably go for a predominantly black pair and wear them with either thick black tights or denim skinny jeans. Depending on how bright/bold your style is, creepers are relatively easy to add to one’s own style.
Popular creeper brand Underground supply a huge range of colours, so whether you’re after subtlety or vibrancy, there is a creeper shoe for you.
Trends like the creepers have come and gone repeatedly over the years, so there is no reason to suggest this pattern of a 20-year interval between the pro-creeper periods will not remain consistent. Whether you’re a goth, a romantic, a hipster, grunge or just your average indie kid, a pair of creepers will almost certainly be a worthy investment. Have a trawl through eBay for a pair: there are plenty floating about at very reasonable prices. Failing that, check out Underground’s most recent collection by following this link here.