Lake Leather has certainly grown its reputation for our fabulous range of lady’s footwear since we embarked upon our shoe-selling adventure some 10 years ago. But did you know we also sell a range of quality men’s leather boots from around Australia and gentlemen's footwear, too? Lake Leather is the second biggest seller of the world-famous R. M. Williams boots in Tasmania. Apart from these iconic men's leather boots, we stock a range of other quality men’s footwear from international athleisure brands such as Merrel, Sperry, and Spanish favourites, Pikolinos. Leather has been used to make footwear for millennia. Some of the very oldest examples, which only survive in very specific conditions (think peat bogs or remote caves etc.), can be over 5,000 years old. From purely protective and functional - as cultures developed, footwear became more decorative and were used as a symbol of your social status. For instance, Roman army officers’ sandals fastened above the ankle, whereas general infantry tied theirs at the foot. Footwear, as we know it today with a left and right foot, is a fairly recent development in the grand scheme of things. It was only in mediaeval times that shoes were made as we know them with a ‘waisted sole’, denoting left and right.
It is easy to think of only women’s fashion when thinking about footwear, but men’s footwear has been a vibrant and wide-ranging industry for many centuries. Historically, while most peasants wore simple slouchy shoes to merely protect their feet from the rigours of life on the land, the gentry used their footwear to denote wealth and power, and affiliation with certain political, religious or cultural groups. Even in modern history, certain styles of shoe have been associated with particular subcultures, and these associations could change over time. As an example, the Chelsea boot was first invented for Queen Victoria, who desired a non-lace-up boot for riding. With the advent of vulcanized rubber allowing the development of elastic, the Chelsea boot was a ground-breaking invention in terms of footwear history over 200 years ago - the first you could simply slip your foot inside. Originally known as paddock boots, the current name was associated with the style during the 60’s in London, where they were popular with the Swinging Sixties set, based on the King’s Road in the London Borough of Chelsea. Worn by rock and roll royalty such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, the style started to be called the Chelsea boot. Variations on the style started to become more wide ranging - the Cuban heel, pointed toes, differences in ankle height etc. The Chelsea boot was associated with the Mods and worn as part of their unofficial uniform. Their nemesis - the Rockers - by contrast, wore heavy motorcycle boots instead. One company famous for their production of Chelsea boots is the iconic R. M. Williams.