Famous international playboys: The Sanders Chukka boots

Steve McQueen undoubtedly earned his title as the “King of Cool”. Whatever he was wearing he seemed to exude an effortless sense of style. He was one of the few men who could look as good in a bespoke three-piece suit as he could in motorcycle boots, jeans, and a t-shirt.

Much of this comes down to his personal charisma as much as it does his wardrobe, but for the man who wants to emulate his style, it is worth noting that there were key pieces he returned to, time and time again. Heavy knit, shawl collar cardigans, light coloured chino trousers, and - more often than not - a pair of snuff suede chukka boots.

In fact, the suede boots were so favoured by McQueen that he wore them not only in his personal life, but also on the big screen for many of his iconic roles throughout the 60s, including The Thomas Crown Affair and, more famously, Bullitt.

This particular footwear featured a distinctive, thick crepe sole and it was this characteristic that set them apart from many of the other similar styles that were available at the time.

Despite the idiosyncratic sole, for many years it remained uncertain as to exactly which make of boots McQueen favoured. There followed much speculation amongst experts, with some suggesting Italian manufacturer Tod’s and others putting forward Clark’s as a likely candidate.

However, it was eventually revealed that the actual boots Steve McQueen wore for Bullitt and in his own personal life were the “Playboy” chukka boots, a design that is still made to this day by British shoemakers, Sanders & Sanders.

Sanders & Sanders are based in Northamptonshire, the spiritual home of great British shoemaking, and have been manufacturing quality footwear there since 1873. Their “Playboy” boots feature fully lined, high quality suede uppers and, of course, the distinctive, bonded crepe sole. For any man who dreams of being like McQueen, or who simply loves a distinctive and stylish boot, this footwear is an essential addition to their wardrobe.

One man who is often cited as sharing McQueen’s iconic sense of style is James Bond actor, Daniel Craig. As James Bond, Craig has worn almost identical outfits to those of Steve McQueen, and this is particularly evident in Quantum of Solace, where he wears a thick-knit , dark blue shawl neck cardigan, light chinos, and dark suede boots.

Indeed, much like McQueen, Craig often wears chukkas in his personal life as well, which suits his particular style perfectly. However, it is in the final scenes of the 007 adventure, SPECTRE, that we see Bond wearing a pair of the Sanders & Sanders “Playboy” boots for the first time, illustrating the timeless appeal of the style.

After all, James Bond is perhaps Britain’s biggest style ambassador and Steve McQueen is arguably America’s greatest style icon. With these two legends of style both choosing to wear the “Playboy” chukka boot, there really can be no greater endorsement.

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