The Original Playboy brand dates back to 1936 when the first shoes were manufactured by English shoemaker Hutton in Northampton, England, an area renowned for the best shoemaking in the world. The design was so unique that it was quickly patented to safeguard the handmade shoes with the characteristic crepe sole construction.
More than 80 years later, the shoes are still manufactured based on the old construction with well over 200 manual processes requiring high levels of classic shoemaking skills. It’s one of the most complicated shoes to manufacture, especially when it comes to attaching the characteristic piping and crepe foxing.
Also the same high quality materials are used today, like the 100% natural plantation rubber for the crepe sole and only the finest hunting suede and calf leather for the upper.
The iconic design of The Original Playboy shoes has from time to time been the inspiration for look-alike models that have been mistaken for The Original Playboy shoes, but as it was written in an old Hutton’s advertisement already back in 1954: ‘There can be only one Playboy.’ That’s also the reason ‘The Original’ got attached to the Playboy name years later, to emphasize that only one brand can be The Original Playboy from 1936.
There can be only one [Playboy]. No other shoes possess the same unique features. Vintage advertisement, Esquire, UK edition, 1952
The Original Playboys reached icon status almost from the beginning, which was largely attributed to Hollywood stars who took a liking to the shoes, in particular one of the World’s hottest actors, Steve McQueen, who wore the Original Playboy chukkas in the 50s and well into the 70s both on and off screen.
Steve McQueen, nicknamed The King of Cool for his masculine and timeless style, wore The Original Playboy Chukkas in most of the scenes in the movie Bullitt. It is often said that McQueen created a look in the movie, consisting of the suede Playboy chukkas, a cashmere turtleneck, an ivy style tweed jacket, charcoal slacks and a trench coat, that is still today synonymous with a timeless classic-cool style that never dates.
With unfailing taste and the hipster’s innate sense of correctness, McQueen wore probably the most influential set of Ivy threads in movie history. Unseen McQueen by Reel Art Press, 2013 – from the introduction ‘None cooler on the west coast’.
However, McQueen was not the only star who favoured The Original Playboy style. Actors like Anthony Perkins, Jason Robards and also great jazz legend Miles Davis were among those who wore the English chukka style in the heydays in the 50s and 60s when Playboys were a huge hit in America and the whole Ivy League look had its booming years.
Hollywood was the place to look for inspiration with the hot male stars’ understated and casual interpretation of the Ivy style that was beyond cool. Still today, fashion magazines and experts write about the Hollywood Ivy look as a unique era and often name the 60’s as the most important decade style wise.
From […] Steve McQueen, Paul Newman and Anthony Perkins to the preppy sensibilities of Woody Allen and Dustin Hoffman; the understated but carefully selected components of the Ivy look didn’t shout ‘look at me’, instead they gave off an image of approachable correctness and laid back confidence. ‘Hollywood and The Ivy Look’ by Reel Art Press, 2011
The famous Hollywood era is a defining part of The Original Playboy legacy, but at the centre of it all will always be the story of a unique, patented and masterly executed design. A design that has been kept alive, also after the English manufacturer discontinued its business in the 70s and the brand shifted hands.
For years, it’s been our privilege to ensure the legacy of the iconic brand, a story that’s inspired us bring back more of the original English designs. Including the shoes originally made for women back in the 50’s as part of our new Women’s Collection and the reintroduction of the sleek and lower Original City crepe sole design that was one of a variety of crepe soles used back in the days.
We also made a thorough review of the construction for the recent 80th anniversary to improve the fit for modern life as well as adjust the style for an even closer match with old English design. The appeal is forever clean, classic and timeless and as we like to say it: The Original Playboys are classics that never goes out of fashion.
To best maintain the appearance and prolong the durability of the shoes, we recommend the following:
The use of a shoe horn will help keep the back of the shoes strong. We have put one for you in the shoe box.
A protector spray on the upper will help guard against stains and water. Apply three times with one minute apart before using. However, carefully cover the crepe soles first (e.g. with paper from the shoebox) as the spray will dissolve the natural rubber.
For suede uppers use a gentle suede brush and brush softly inwards in the direction of the hairs. For leather uppers applying natural wax or shoe cream will help protect and freshen up the leather. Always removed any dirt or dust first with a damp cloth.
If you want to freshen up the look of the crepe or crepe foxing, use a bit of natural leather wax or creme on the sole.
Avoid the crepe soles getting in contact with all types of oil, gasoline, soap or other solvents, which will dissolve the natural rubber sole. If accidently in contact with a solvent, use talcum to harden the crepe again.
The natural crepe sole material is affected by temperature and can become hard and inflexible when storaged in a cold place. Place the shoes in a warmer room to restore its natural flexibility.
We also recommend changing between different pairs of shoes to allow the shoes a full day of rest to dry out from natural perspiration. Preferably with a shoetree inserted, which will help maintain the shape of your shoes.
We hope you will enjoy your new shoes.