The Timeless Desert Wellie

4 01 2012

So during the post-Christmas bun-fight, aka “the sales”, my daughter dragged me into a shoe shop going by the name of Aldo’s. Therein I came across a pair of ankle boots with the style name of Apilado:

Aldo: Apilado

Aldo: Apilado

I was quite pleased with my selection as they were 50% off an already reduced price, so I only paid $25. A bargain in anyone’s books… even a Yorkshireman’s!

“Oh great dad”, say’s middle pachyderm, “just like all your other boots!” Not strictly true… but admittedly true to a first level approximation.

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve loved wearing variations on a classic theme… The Desert Wellie! (One ‘s’. A dessert wellie is a whole area of kinkiness I’m not willing to go into in a public forum.) Strictly speaking a wellie is a shortening of “wellington” – a rubber boot, named purportedly after the Duke of the same name. However in common (very: as in “~ as muck”) parlance, it’s used to refer to pretty much any kind of boot.

Supposedly, the Desert Boot was inspired by the crepe-soled boots worn by British officers in World War II in the Burma campaign. They were lighter than the standard issue boot and more suitable for fighting in hot sweaty places. Anyway, official Desert Boots are now made by Clarks, and have been for around 50 years. They were very popular in the 60’s with drainpipe skinny trousers – as worn by Michael Caine, Steve McQueen et al.

Clarks Desert Boots

Clarks Desert Boot

Clarks Desert Boot

Clarks are definitely better quality, but the crepe soles on all of the variations mean they don’t take an awful lot of wear before they are bin-fodder, so “you pays your money and you takes your choice”.

Amazon’s new policy of selling basically anything at all means you too can get pretty much every variety and style imaginable online from the comfort of your own bath:

Amazon: Clarks Desert Boot

Amazon: Clarks Desert Boot

Sadly, it would seem that their original designer (yes – Mr Nathan Clark, great-grandson of THE Mr Clark) died this last summer aged 94. Fuller story on GQ here.

What with Jobs as well, 2011 wasn’t a great year for the loss of style icons really…




4 responses

5 01 2012
misfits' miscellany

Veldskoens in South Africa or more commonly referred to as vellies.

5 01 2012
Quieter Elephant

Interesting! Not quite the same it seems (a little lower), but yet another variation on a theme…

27 04 2013

Veldskoens were made by the San people in the cape hundreds of years ago. The dutch settlers expanded on this tough, practical and comfortable design and it became known as the veldskoen. THe British must’ve admired these shoes during their campaigns in South Africa and the veldskoen must be the inspiration for the design of these shoes. The word “wellie” is surely a British play on the word Shortened Afrikaans term ” vellie” for “veldskoen” or field shoe.

27 04 2013
Quieter Elephant

Plausible, though I’d assumed “wellie” to just be a play on good old wellingtons

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