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Desert Boots

2023-11-09 00:00:00 / episode: 297


The Convoluted Story of Desert Boots

Desert boots

do you have desert boots?

I used to have a pair of desert boots,

in fact I used to have two pairs.

I didn't have two pairs at the same time.

I had one pair and I wore them until they wore out.

Then I got another pair. they're pretty good boots

because they're so versatile from a fashion standpoint.

You can wear them with semi dress pants

or jeans

or even shorts.

you can wear them out hiking

well let's say light hiking,

or you can wear them into a nice restaurant.

so I was wondering,

how long have they been around?

The First Company

I did a little research on desert boots

and found out that the Clark company was

the first company to really popularise them.

One of the brothers in the company,

Nathan Clark,

was fighting in the war in World War ii.

I don't know if he was really fighting,

but he was in Burma anyway and his brother sent him a message.

His brother told him to try and find good designs

for new shoes for their shoe company.


Nathan Clark did just that.

He looked around and watched what the officers

and soldiers were wearing

and he saw them wearing chukka boots.

It was on his way home through Egypt however

that he was able to source the boots and buy them in a market in Cairo.

The officers who were fighting in the desert in Egypt wore these boots as well.

They were almost the same design

but they were called desert boots, naturally,

because they were in the desert.

But that wasn't the end of the story.

Too Busy

Nathan gave the design for the boots to his cutter

who was supposed to cut the leather and make the boot with it.

However, the cutter was just too busy

keeping up with his work

that he couldn't get on to making a sample pair of the new boots.

Nathan went to ask him several times and eventually

he ended up cutting the leather and making the boots himself.

Another Hurdle

But that wasn't the end either.

These boots were not popular with the board of the company.

The board thought they would never sell

and they would never be popular.

Well this didn't stop Nathan,

He was transferred to work in another part of the company outside of Britain.

Take the Initiative

He was working in Australia when he made the boots

and started to Market them there and they became somewhat popular.

He started to move the boots into other markets

and finally he got into the American market.

It was just after the end of World War II

and the American economy was starting to chug into action.

That meant that people had money

and they wanted to buy things

and they wanted to level themselves up.


Nathan got an interview with Esquire magazine,

who was promoting popular higher culture at the time.

Some of the people that Esquire was portraying

were wearing the desert boots that Nathan's company made.

This combination pushed the boots into popularity in North America

and they haven't looked back.

Humbler Origins

But where did these desert boots really originate?

They didn't actually originate in Egypt or Burma.

Rather, they originated in South Africa.

The Boer farmers living in South Africa

made simple leather shoes called veldskoene.

The name of the boot is a very simple name

coming from the words for field and skin.

The boots were made out of simple animal skins

and they were made for walking in the fields.

So the humble desert boot originated from the humble Dutch Farmers living in South Africa hundreds of years ago.