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Creepers: the history of an iconic shoe

From symbol of Teddy Boys and Punk to fashion cult

Creepers: the history of an iconic shoe  From symbol of Teddy Boys and Punk to fashion cult

1945. The war is over and even the British soldiers who fought in the deserts of North Africa return home. Trying to forget the horror and leave the battlefields behind, once in London, they spend their days and their nights wandering the streets, night clubs and brothels of Soho and Kings Cross with a strange pair at their feet footwear that does not go unnoticed that, just for the area in which they are "sighted", someone begins to nicknamed Brothel Creepers.

These are boots in durable suede, with a thick rigid sole with anti-ice crampons, made of layered sheets of coagulated latex, which, initially supplied by the army to face the difficult desert climate, become for many veterans a sort of involuntarily cool uniform . The first to understand the commercial potential of these brand news shoes is in 1949 the George Cox Footwear, an American company based in Wellingborough in Northamptonshire, which launches its own version with the most fashionable silhouette, The Hamilton: sole para high from 4 at 6 cm, lacing with four rings and upper in shiny or suede leather.

Cox's restyling is a success and, thanks to the contemporary affirmation of the first youth controcultures, the new product becomes an integral part of the look, together with banana haircut, dark blazer, sweet high-necked waist, slim and short trousers, with hems folded so as to leave the ankle free, the Teddy Boys who with their mix of tailoring codes dating back to the period, the dandyism and rockabilly rebellion, invaded the neighborhoods of Europe and the States.

At one point the Creepers (according to someone the name derives from a song and a dance in the Teds of the early '50s: "The Creep" by Ken Mackintosh) become so popular that Elvis dedicates them one of his most famous pieces "Blue suede shoes".

A few years later, also a certain Malcolm McLaren, who, refusing the dominant hippie look prefers the Teddy Boy style, buys a pair of Mr. Freedom suede D-ring creepers.

The boy, who will soon become the manager of a band destined to make the history of music, the Sex Pistols, remains so enthusiastic to order other models at the factory to sell them in the boutique (called Let It Rock, then SEX and finally Seditionaries) that has just opened at 430 King's Road along with his work and life partner, Vivienne Westwood. Many years later, remembering the importance of his creepers, McLaren will declare:

“My pair of George Cox creepers were probably the most important things I ever bought. They made a statement about what everyone else was wearing and thinking. To wear those shoes was a symbolic act.”

For the shoes born to facilitate the British army enterprises is yet another new life: World War II, Teddy Boys, Mods, Rockabilly, Punk, Dark. All those who count in the music world, from Joe Strummer (Cox brings out a model in his name) to Johnny Rotten, or anyone who loves rock'n roll wears them. And so it stays for successive decades.

After a relative period of oblivion in the 90s, the creepers have returned to fashion since 2000, revived and reworked by many designers: from Alexander Wang to Chanel, from Rihanna for Fenty PUMA to Prada that has made a mash-up version with the espadrilles, from Yamamoto to Comme des Garçons Homme that brought them on the catwalk during the recent PFW FW19, from adidas Originals and Kazuki Kuraishi with their mash-up between sneaker and creeper to the elegant Monk Strap Creeper by Nicholas Daley & George Cox. A confirmation that creepers are an iconic phenomenon that despite the continuous change of fashions and society remains a symbol of rebellion, good music and coolness.