Alexander Noel: Background on Waxed Suede Shoes/Boots
Waxed suede boots and shoes are celebrated for their enduring charm and versatile appeal, seamlessly blending style and functionality. In this blog, we'll not only explore the reasons behind their popularity as style products but also delve into their intriguing historical background, including their connection to Barbour jackets. From the origins of waxed suede footwear to its modern-day revival, this story weaves together the history of two fashion icons.
The Origins of Waxed Suede
To understand the history of waxed suede footwear, we must first appreciate the origins of suede itself. Suede, a type of leather with a soft, napped surface, has a long history dating back thousands of years. Its name, "suede," comes from the French term "gants de Suède," which means "gloves from Sweden." Suede was initially used for crafting gloves due to its velvety texture. Over time, suede gained popularity and found its way into various clothing and accessories, including shoes.
The Waxed Finish
The transformation of suede into waxed suede began as craftsmen and artisans sought to enhance the material's properties. The waxing process involved treating suede with a specialized wax finish, protecting the material and giving it a distinctive matte appearance. This finish not only made the suede more water-resistant but also significantly increased its durability. Waxed suede quickly became the material for those needing the footwear that could withstand the elements while maintaining an elegant look.
Practical Use in Workwear
Waxed suede shoes and boots found practical application in the realm of workwear. These footwear options were top-rated among laborers, outdoors people, and those exposed to challenging conditions. The waxed finish provided waterproofing essential for individuals working in demanding environments. This historical application played a crucial role in establishing the reputation of waxed suede footwear for its durability and utility.
Transition to Fashion
As time passed, waxed suede footwear made a transition from workwear to the world of fashion. The matte finish and rich texture of waxed suede lent these shoes and boots a timeless, versatile aesthetic that complemented various outfits and occasions. Whether worn with jeans for a casual look or paired with a suit for a formal event, waxed suede boots and shoes quickly became staples in the wardrobes of fashion-conscious individuals.
The Influence of Barbour Jackets
When John Barbour established his venture, J. Barbour & Sons, South Shields stood as a bustling hub in the heart of England's North East. This vibrant maritime community created a pressing demand for clothing that could shield sailors, fishermen, river workers, dock laborers, and shipyard employees from the elements. In response to this need, Barbour introduced a line of clothing known as the Beacon Brand, and the term "Oilskin" was coined to describe the robust, weather-resistant fabric used. It's important to clarify that Barbour was not the originator of Oilskin; in fact, the tradition of weatherproofing fabric with oils and waxes predates even the founding of the Barbour company itself.
The historical connection between waxed suede footwear and Barbour jackets is rooted in their shared heritage of waxed materials. J. Barbour Sons, the creators of Barbour jackets, pioneered using waxed cotton for waterproofing in the late 19th century. This innovation laid the foundation for modern waxed materials in fashion, including waxed suede. The expertise developed by Barbour in waterproofing and enhancing durability through waxing has influenced the qualities and popularity of waxed suede footwear.
Waxed suede boots and shoes have a rich history that spans centuries, evolving from practical workwear to timeless fashion staples. The waxed finish, known for its protective qualities and distinctive appearance, captivates fashion enthusiasts. This historical journey also reveals its connection to Barbour jackets and their pioneering influence on waxed materials in fashion. Embrace this history and step into a pair of waxed suede boots or shoes to experience their enduring elegance, a testament to the enduring tradition of craftsmanship and style.