The Playboy Boot has its roots in the private orders placed by soldiers based in North Africa in WWII. It was the British post-war youth cultures that gave it its status, however, donning the feet of Teddy Boys, Mods and Punks throughout the years. It even has its own cinematic heritage thanks to Steve McQueen in Bullitt and Daniel Craig’s turn in the recent Bond chapters.
Sanders started making their boot in the early 60s, and little has changed in their production ever since. It is still handmade, with over 200 operations from factory floor to box, with all 100 workers at the factory adding their skill set to its creation. Original machinery is still used for the unique ‘foxing’ process where a 2mm thin crepe layer is applied to the sole in one piece – an expensive but more aesthetically pleasing way to finish each pair.
That is not to say that Sanders are afraid of innovation and improvement. While the plantation crepe used for the soles is still grown in Sri Lanka, the English tanned and cured suede used for the uppers is now treated and waterproofed for longevity, a recent development taking advantage of changing techniques. And two years ago, after going back and studying the original archives, the company launched their “Polo Snuff’ colourway – an exact and faithful tone that replicates the original hue as worn on stage and screen in the model’s early days.
So, owning a pair of Sanders Playboys is a little like owning a small piece of English post-war shoemaking history. The more things change, the more they stay the same.