A Tribute to the Allies
At the outset of World War II, both the United States and the United Kingdom faced a similar dilemma with regards to boots. Both would deploy novel strategies that would require specialized footwear and neither had the time or resources required to develop something from scratch. Instead, each would work with a local manufacturing firm to make a single but critical modification to an existing boot platform which would better prepare soldiers for specific conditions.
The American “Island Hopping” strategy would require amphibious landings and engagements on the extremely hot and humid islands of the South Pacific. They needed a water-resistant boot. At the time, Chicago’s own Horween Leather Co. was well-known for making water-resistant leather for industrial gaskets and washers. The Department of Defense asked Horween to develop a roughout leather with water-resistant properties similar to those used in industrial tonnages. The result was a special tannage named “Marine Field Shoe” known today as “Natural Chromexcel Roughout.”
After the necessary but embarrassing evacuation at Dunkirk, Churchill had to let the world know the Brits were still in the fight—and he didn’t have time to rebuild an army in order to do it. Instead, he would rely on the Commandos, an elite class of soldier trained in special operations, to conduct covert raids and espionage. At this time, Commandos wore boots with leather soles equipped with steel hobnails—which presented a particular challenge to sneaking around in the dark. They needed a sole that wouldn’t make a lot of noise, but still offered exceptional traction on all types of terrain. The Ministry of Defense would contract the I.T.S. Rubber Company to develop an entirely new type of sole from soft yet durable rubber, with deep lugs for traction. Thus, the “Itshide Commando Sole” was born, which today remains the most comfortable and quietest all-terrain sole.
This collection pays tribute to these two achievements by pairing them together: American water-resistant roughout leather with British soft lugged soles.