Brothel Creepers: The origin and description

Brothel creepers, also known as creepers, are a type of shoe with thick crepe soles and suede or leather uppers that became popular in the 1950s and 60s. While some may consider them a fashion statement, the origin of their name goes back to a much darker origin.

Origin of Brothel Creepers

The origin of the term brothel creepers can be traced back to World War II, when they were worn by soldiers stationed in the deserts of North Africa. The thick crepe sole provided comfort and support for the soldiers who had to endure long days on their feet, while the suede or leather upper was protected from the harsh sand and sun. After the war, these shoes became popular among working-class British men looking for durable and comfortable shoes for their everyday life.

In the 1950s, young British men known as Teddy Boys began wearing brothel creepers as part of their subculture. The term Teddy Boy originated from the style of suit that they wore, which was similar to the Edwardian period. The Teddy Boys were known for their rebellious behaviour, and the brothel creepers symbolised their defiance towards traditional British culture.

Brothel Creepers

The term “brothel creeper” was first coined in the late 1940s and early 1950s, during the post-war era when soldiers returned home, and some went on to work as bouncers in the red-light district. The thick soles of the creeper shoes allowed them to make less noise as they walked around the brothels, hence the term “creepers.” Some say that wearing the shoes was even mandatory for bouncers in some establishments. While there is some debate over the origin of the name, one thing is clear – the term brothel creepers is inextricably linked to the seedy underworld of the red-light district.

Fashion statement

Despite their controversial origin, brothel creepers have become a fashion statement worldwide. As a result, many celebrities began wearing them, including David Bowie, Elvis Presley, and Rihanna. Today, not only are they used as fashionable streetwear, but they are also worn in various subcultures such as punk, goth, and rockabilly.

Regarding the shoe’s design, brothel creepers are easily recognisable by their thick crepe soles and suede or leather uppers. The soles are often around two to three inches thick and are made of a soft and flexible crepe that provides cushioning and comfort for the feet. The uppers can be made of various materials, including suede, leather, or patent leather. They are usually bold and come in many colours, from bright neon to classic black and white.

The shoes feature distinctive piping or stitching along the seams and often have metal eyelets for the laces. The laces typically come in contrasting colours, such as white on black or black on white. Despite the thick sole, brothel creepers are lightweight and comfortable for long periods.

In conclusion, brothel creepers have a complex origin and are linked to the seedy world of the red-light district. However, they have become a staple in fashion and are a go-to choice for those who want a durable and stylish shoe option. Moreover, with their distinct and recognisable design, they will remain popular for many years.