The Chukka Boot 20th February 2016
The stylish gent about town often goes for the chukka boot. It’s an ankle-high man’s boot with suede or leather uppers, leather or rubber soles, and open-lacing with only two or three eyelets.
The name comes from the game of polo, where “chukka” was said to refer to the seven and a half minute playing period of the game, itself derived from the Hindi work “chukkar” meaning “turn”.
There is, however, little evidence that he boots were ever actually used to play polo, leading some to believe that the name simply comes from their resemblance to the boots often worn for polo: jodhpurs.
Another theory is that the name of the boots, while being derived from the Hindi work “chukkar”, more specifically came from that word’s other meaning of “taking a stroll” and that the boots were worn for this purpose.
Whatever the origin of the name, it’s assumed by historians that the boot originated with the British in India – specifically the British Army in India during the time of the “Raj” – the British rule of India. During World War 2 the British units operating in desert campaigns wore these type of boots, where they were known simply as “desert boots” (still an alternative name for them to this day, though it specifically refers to chukkas with suede uppers and crepe rubber soles), and following this the boots became popular in mainstream civilian life in the later 1940s and the 1950s, when they were considered to be a comfy alternative to shoes and which were versatile enough to be worn both casually and formally.
Modern chukkas come in various leathers and fabrics, including faux leather and canvas. Soles tend to be of leather and thin – a sign of quality – though more casual chukkas have thicker soles and rougher stitching. Chukkas traditionally have always been a shade of brown, but nowadays, of course, can be found in all manner of hues.
Although diverse, chukka boots tend to have the following features:
- Open laces
- Thin, leather soles
- (Traditionally) calfskin uppers
- Few eyelets, usually two or three
- Only reach the ankle
- Two-part make, from only two pieces or leather
Take a look at some of our best chukka boots:
A classic chukka boot from Trickers with repello suede or antique calf uppers.
A stylish unlined chukka boot from Crockett and Jones with suede uppers and contrast stitching.
The Orkney from Barker is a superb chukka boot with country styling on a more sleek contemporary last.
The Pimlico is Loake's best-selling chukka boot and it's easy to see why. Simple style made with finesse and quality materials make for a striking boot.
At Pediwear we believe that no wardrobe is complete without a pair of chukka boots and Grenson's Marcus is perfect to complete one. Versatile enough to dress up or down, the Marcus is a timeless classic.
This suede chukka boot from Sanders features full leather lining and a red-brick sole.
This offering from Alfred Sargent is a contemporary chukka boot made on the 87 last.
A very popular chukka boot, the Jackie III From Cheaney's 125 Collection features a dainite-studded rubber sole and mahogany grain uppers.
This chukka suede shoe-boot is made using Lloyd's 'libre suede' in black, with constrasting upper stitching.
From their HQ on the French-German border, Mephisto bring us the Stelio, a comfortable lightweight casual ankle boot with a moulded rubber sole unit.
And here we have Jeffrey West's Masuka suede chukka boot in navy. With red laces, welt-stitching and red leather lining contrast against the navy blue. A natural-coloured welt adds more interest to the stylish boot.
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