Tag Archives: boots

Compared: 1920s and 1970s Boots

One thing I probably don’t write enough about here is how fashion is constantly borrowing from its past. Someone once said to me that fashion ran out of ideas about 1967. I’m not sure that is true, but one does not have to look far to see borrowed ideas.

Above is a pair of hiking boots from Abercrombie & Fitch, from the late 1920s or early 30s. I don’t think that at the time these boots would have been considered to be “fashion” as they were a functional item worn for a specific purpose, and definitely not meant to be on the city streets. They were a style borrowed from the boys, so to speak, as men had been wearing this type boot in the woods for some time.

Today the lines between fashion and function is very blurred, with people wearing their workout clothing on the street and their jammies on airplanes, but in the 1920s, the rules were more rigid. It was a very big deal when in 1924 a brave woman in Italy first wore her pajamas on the Lido.

These boots are from the 1970s, and I’m sure that the similarity to the 20s ones is obvious. You see the same lacing with eyelet over the foot, and hooks up the leg. The below the knee length is the same. Both are made of leather.

But also striking are the differences. The 1920s boot has a low stacked leather heel. The 70s boot has a fashionable heel, covered with the same leather as the rest of the boot. The 20s boot has a ridge around the top of the foot to assist with the shaping of the leather, while the foot of the 70s boot is made from two pieces of leather. The toe shape is different.

What I find interesting is that the 1920s boot is obviously built for function and the 70s boots is obviously built for fashion. But at the same time there is no mistaking the fact that the 70s boot was inspired by the 20s one.

Even when mixed up, it’s easy to distinguish one boot from the other. It’s just one most thing to look for when trying to evaluate a piece of older clothing. Always look for the influences.

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Filed under Collecting, Shoes, Sportswear

More Days Wear, Warm and Dry in “Ball-Band” Boots

I think most of us in the Northern Hemisphere could do with a good, warm pair of boots today.  This little sales booklet comes from 1922, and is full of interesting options.

Ball-Band was a trademark of the Mishawaka Woolen Manufacturers of Mishawaka, Indiana.  As the name implies, the company started out as a woolen mill, making blankets and wool felt boots.  In 1886 the company conceived of a boot with knitted wool uppers in which the wool was first knit, then felted through shrinkage.  The owner’s mother, Mrs. Jacob Beiger, knit the prototype for the product.  They were still being sold in 1922.

Rubber shoes and over-shoes were added as a product in 1898 with many of the shoes having a rubber sole and upper, and wool legs.  In 1922, they added sneakers, or sports shoes.  The next year the company changed their name to the Mishawaka Rubber and Woolen Company.

The little booklet tells not only the company’s story, but it also explains how rubber is produced and made usable by use of the Goodyear process.  They also treat us to views of the woolen mill.

To vintage collectors  probably the most familiar Ball-Band product is their line of Summerettes.  Summerettes were fashionable canvas sandals which had rubber soles and were meant for casual wear.  The name Summerettes was trademarked by the company in 1947 with the claim that the name had been in use since 1934, but their era of popularity was the 1950s.

By the 1960s, rubber over-shoes, regardless of their practicality, had become passe’.   Ball-Band fell behind in the sneaker game, with Keds, Converse, and PF Flyers all being the brands kids loved.  In 1967 Ball-Band was bought by Uniroyal, and in 1969, the last pair of shoes was made at Mishawaka.  Today the factory site is a public park.

A quick internet search showed that the Ball-Band brand name lives on in the form of cheap synthetic shoes for nurses and nuns.  I assume they are made in the Far East.

I have a new pair of Ball-Band shoes that I’ll show off soon.  They are sneakers in the form of Maryjanes.

PS:  How about that cover image?  Would you put a gun into the hands of a child that small?  And check out his “hunting” dog.

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Filed under Shoes

Ad Campaign – Eskiloos, 1960

The big draw for winter is ESKILOOS

(warm, washable, over-the-sock boots)

Eskiloos – the sleek-fitting, snug-feeling, smart-looking news!  Made by U.S. Rubber of striking new fabrics, all warmly lined, all winterproofed.  Light on the feet, yet sturdy.

I don’t need to tell you that I love these, right?  That if I had a time machine before me with only one trip to the past I’d set the dial to “wherever the newest in shoes is sold,”  September 1960?  I’d buy five pairs in both styles, in all the colors available so I’d have a lifetime supply of Eskiloos.

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Filed under Advertisements, Shoes

Made in Canada – Kamik Rubber Boots

I’ve been wearing the functional but plain black rubber boots that were given to me by a local church during the clean-up after the hurricanes of 2004, but I’ve been wanting a pair that might not make me look like I’m on my way to shovel muck from a barn.  I saw these on a fashion blog (sorry, but I can’t find it and there are 1000s of them) and followed the links to Amazon where they were for sale.  To my great delight, they were reasonably priced and made in Canada.

The brand is Kamik, which was a new one to me, though according to their website, the company has been in business for over 100 years.  The company is headquartered in Montreal where many of their boots are made.  Others are made in assembly plants in Ontario and New Hampshire, with 70% of Kamik products being made in North America.   Their factories are hydro-powered, and they use very little fossil fuels.  And their rubber boots are recyclable, which you can do by sending the used boots back to the company where they are reprocessed.

You know how I love a manufacturing video?  They have one.

There is not a sales feature on the Kamik website, but they are readily available on Amazon, Zappos, R.E.I. and Nordstrom.  Their rubber boots are made in North America, but some of their other styles are made in Asia, so make sure you know the origin of the boots if this is an important issue to you.

The style name of my boots is Christina, and they do come in other colors.  I’m not a lacy type of girl, but I thought the Gwyneth boots were rather cute.

An interesting side note:  I was in Wal-mart recently and went by to glare at the made-in-China boots.  To my surprise, there were quite a few styles, some very similar to mine, that were labeled Made in the USA and Made in Canada.  At $24.95, they are worth checking into if you are needing a pair of rainboots.

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Filed under Made in the USA, Shoes

Ad Campaign – Bass Ski Boots, 1948

Bass is best known for their loafer – the Weejun, but they also made other casual boots including ski boots.   These are typical ski boots of that time, and from all I can tell from looking in vintage catalogs and online searches, ski boots pretty much remained the same from the 1930s through the 1950s.  They were sturdy and very heavy.

Another ad from 1948

I recently found this vintage pair.  They are well worn, but really snazzy.  And if you don’t ski they could be used for a door stop or as a leathal weapon.  They are that heavy.

1937 Montgomery Ward catalog

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Filed under Advertisements, Collecting, Winter Sports