Wednesday, October 22, 2014

An Exception To The Rule

I am thoroughly enjoying my give and take with boot historian AndyP.  If you'll recall, here I showcased a pair Anglo-European platform boots and mentioned that this particular style had never really caught on in the U.S.  In the text I mentioned that as a hobbyist, I could only speculate that this was the case, while as a historian Andy could prove it. Well, the very next day, Andy presented the proof: catalogs from the same year from the US and the UK. If you'll review them it's pretty clear that my speculation was correct. The snug, side-zip platform knee-high was much more popular on the eastern side of the Atlantic.

I've never understood how an exception could PROVE a rule, but here is an exception to the rule(ironically this was found on Andy's tumblr)
You will not find a more American picture than this one, and you won't find a pair of boots more typical of the Anglo-European platform boot. Both of the two critical features are evident, they are quite snug to the leg and have a slight scallop which almost covers the knee.

Again, I really am enjoying this.

Also in the comments here, you'll find that a self-important blow-hard spent some time discussing the American popularity of the Frye boot and its relative the Zodiac boot. If you look at the boots in the Montgomery Ward catalog that Andy presents you'll see that several fit the profile of the "Frye-style" boot, while none of the Freemans boots do.  I think we're close to an earth shattering consensus in a esoteric field of study which interests only a handful of people.

For the pickers of nits:I'm not saying that 70's platform boots were unheard of in the states. I postulate that they were FAR more common in England and that MOST American platform boots lacked the distinctive scallop  in the front that almost covered the knee. 


  1. I guess one (semi-serious) way to look at it is that our two nations went different ways in the aftermath of the Sixties - in the US, you packed your bags and headed off back to the country (commune movement, explosion of interest in C/W music and culture, return to "traditional" values, etc) whereas in Britain we tried to escape from the misery of strikes, power cuts, the 3-day week, and Northern Ireland by wallowing in nostalgia.

    Obviously we're focusing on boots, but the whole platform sole thing comes from the early 70s wave of interest in fashions harking back to the twenties and thirties; stores like Biba were selling a retro vision of Hollywood's golden years. Boots got dragged into this, just like every other form of clothing. It's not coincidental that the progenitor of those mid-Seventies platform boots was the Biba boot.

    And it's also fitting that while the Victoria and Albert Museum highlights the Biba boot as an iconic piece of British fashion, the Smithsonian picked Frye's Campus boot as one of its classic examples of 70s Americana.

    Enough of this rambling. I need to go crunch numbers.

  2. A good assessment. The "Frye crowd" was certainly part of a back-to-earth culture that permeated much of the 70's. Two of the other big cultural trends, disco and 50's nostalgia were almost completely bootless and hence outside our purview . I do think the two nations responded to the 60's hangover in different ways.

    I think it's important to note that Frye-style was distinct from the 70's dress boot. While they shared some characteristics (a tendency towards earth-tones and a stacked heel), the 70's dress boots were what you refer to as the "Cossack Boots"

    BTW Very interesting observation about the museum boots.


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