In the past fifteen years, brogues have been gaining more and more popularity, surging through almost every formal and even casual brands, decorating your footwear with those classic perforations. Many different versions exist, some more elaborate than others, with the classic brogue design often adorning the more formal end of footwear. However, brogues weren’t invented yesterday. They have a long and storied history from the highest classes to the common men and women, giving these a strong sense of British tradition.
Their origins are in fact as practical shoes worn by farmers in Ireland and Scotland back in the 1800s. The perforations were designed as a drain, letting water out as the wearer walked through wet farmland or marshes. These practical shoes were worn by most of the farming population, and eventually were modified with a dress heel. This new design in the 1900s made a distinctive sound with every step. This sound was then used in Gaelic dances, spreading their popularity as dress shoes throughout the working class population. The brogue perforations were soon being used as decoration on womens shoes, marking the point where they became true fashion items, though were still seen as country walking shoes for men.
However, the steady march of fashion changes all things, and brogues steadily changed from a country shoe to a must have pattern on formal and casual wear, giving a sharp twist that can simultaneously feel contemporary and traditional. Male and female celebrities were soon walking in brogue style, including Katherine Hepburn as early as the 1930s. In 1972, London cobbler George Cleverly was challenged to make a pair of flats for the famous model, Twiggy. The brogue perforations on the resulting shoes were a rousing success, topped off with a bow.
In the 1990s, brogues uncharacteristically fell out of favour, being seen as uncool or old fashioned, but true classics never really die, and the brogue has come back all the stronger, being used on all kinds of footwear, from trainers, to dress shoes to boots. From the Oscars to the high street, brogues are everywhere, back at the height of the fashion world. Shop Brogues Here