Look At The Sole

The TakahiromiyashitaTheSoloist X Asics Chelsea boots are on the good side of cool

Sometimes you don’t have to do very much to a classic silhouette, such as the Chelsea boot. Japanese label TakahiromiyashitaTheSoloist has collaborated with fellow nihon no burano Asics for a pair of footwear that dates back to the Victorian era. This is all recognisably close-fitting and ankle-high, with the distinctive elastic side gusset. But the sole is very different. Rather that a union with the traditional low-stacked heel and hard-bottomed sole, this pair’s leather upper is cemented to the full-length GEL sole of the Asics GEL-Quantum 360 running shoes. The GEL sole is a technology that, according to Asics, “create better shock absorption underfoot”. Why a Chelsea boot that is now mostly worn to work needs such specialised cushioning for the feet is not explained, but the graphically jagged surface of the blacked-out sole does lend the otherwise sombre boot a slight subversive edge.

The Chelsea boot, interestingly, was thought to be first conceived for women. It is attributed to the work of Queen Victoria’s shoemaker, Joseph Sparks-Hall, who claimed that the monarch had worn the boots he designed daily, and was, hence, proof that the design held a special place in her heart (and shoe cabinet, probably). His boot came with practical elastic inserts to make the pulling on and off easier for the Queen. After Charles Goodyear’s invention of vulcanised rubber (treating the rubber to render it stronger and more flexible and springy) in the 1830s that led to the advent of elastics, the Chelsea boots (in equestrian sports, they’re known as paddock boot) now come with more elastic gusset that we’re familiar with to make slipping into a pair a lot easier, more than before. They became very much associated with the ’60s and, indeed, The Beatles, and the Chelsea boot is still not divorced from its mod past. Just the shoe for the holiday party season, especially this very cool pair.

TakahiromiyashitaTheSoloist X Asics Chelsea boots, SGD399, is available at Asics, Plaza Singapura. Photo: Asics

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