Inspiration behind the KREOSOTE Engineer Boot.
*This article was written in conjunction to the @stitchdown ShoeCast Episode 1/4/2022*
I wanted to build an Engineer Boot for years and spent a great deal of time scratching my head searching for some answers while stumbling through the somewhat confusing Marketing Juggernaut, it took awhile before I felt that I had enough of a handle and understanding of its History & Purpose which is probably why it became my 20th design and not my 3rd.
Historical references along with uncommon Research and Development are of great importance to me they are the guides that I use to define my brand, along with Family’s Folklore tales (specifically) those of my Granddad who held court in the living room after every Dinner and I think it was his rhythmic speech pattern, (a strong Kentucky dialect filled with unique audible pauses) when he told stories about living through the1930s and 40s that drew me inward and kinda of scared the shit out of me at the same time.
The KREOSOTE PaRLOR SkAR boot has been compared to Americans Dark Folklore past like an Escape from common reality.
I use this duality of time as a method of development when exploring new ideas for builds and it's the very first Blank Page of Inspiration I draw upon when creating a Fictions charter that gets kicked around in my mind for months while designing and cutting patterns, I imagine a less than polished rough individual would have worn my boots.
Then there is the mystical side of my Grandmothers “Clairvoyant Experiences” that she conveyed from an eerie perspective that felt almost touchable raising the hair on the back of my neck as she spoke. Embracing these two conduits and implementing them into my daily work paired seamlessly.
As a result, my designs have been described by some as being “Macabre” in nature or referencing a kind of "Polarizing Dark Folklore" descriptive... I guess "if the shoe fits" wear it.
You will notice a pattern of development as you study further the Chronological order and Inspiration of the Engineer History which are included below that I incorporated while working on the PaRLOR SkAR.
As an example of this Research & Development a strong influence from the American Civil War US Calvary Boot from1861-1865 along with the WW11917 US Calvary Boot are prominent.
Bending the Wire (space) between Two-post.
Studying an Era of American Heritage for this boot I uncovered the life of two brothers from Kentucky who fought against each other in the American Civil War "Brother against Brother" the outcome didn’t end favorable for either of them, so I changed their tragic death and the narrative to inspire parts of this design, in my version the brothers survived the war and lived to become Farmers separated by merely a wooden property fence, lived long and prosperous lives were buried at the top of a hill under an old oak tree and the American Heritage of life was passed onto the next of Kin, which became the (young) Drifter looking for the answers at the dusty crossroads of the1930s.
I remember the day well when I decided after collecting so much data that the name
“PaRLOR SkAR” became suitable, it was solely based from the possibilities of a
Fictitious character that would have frequented the Vagabonds underworld (Parlors) gathering with those sharply dressed tenacious men and women gambling, smoking and drinking whisky to the sounds of the Delta Blues and early Jazz Trios, (SkARed) from the experiences and lifestyle habits of the 1930s.
Inspired by the collision of SEVEN different American and European shoemaking time periods that defined the crossover Boot development achievements spanning from the 1800s to the 1940s.
Chronological History of Inspiration
1. 1814 "The Wellington"
The (Duke of Wellington) Arthur Wellesley, who in 1814 commissioned his own shoemaker,
Mr George Hoby of St James's Street, London to build a Tall shafted leather Riding Boot constructed with side seams and a low heel.
2. 1861 to 1865
"The American Civil War"
US Officers Calvary Ridding Boot
Hints of the early Engineer design with a 17 inch Tops, Side Seam with Rolled Top Stay and occasionally used Back Seam option with low profile Almond/Squared Toe shape, Leather outsole and Pull Straps complete with leather Buckle Strap for a horse Riding Spur.
1875 "Cowboy Boot"
Charles Hyer was one of the very first shoemakers to invent the Cowboy Boot, Historical family artifacts state that a Colorado Ranch hand stopped by the Hyer shop in 1875, requesting a new pair of boots that were different from his Civil War Calvary style boots, Hyer began working on a boot Last that would have a higher Instep with a pointed toe that would slide more easily into a stirrup, a high, slanted heel that would hold a stirrup, and a high Shaft (Stovepipe) scalloped in front and back so the boots sled on more easily, Historically changing the profile of a stylish Ranch hand work boot forever.
4. WW1 1914 to 1918
1917 "US Army Officers Calvary Riding Boot"
The very FIRST Engineer Style Boot of its kind.
These pictures show the uniquely designed 1917 US Army Calvary Riding Boot that was offered up at a US Auction House, October 10, 2020, LOT #83 resembling a nearly perfect matching of the 1940s Chippewa Engineer boot design.
This boot was developed in 1917 for the US Army Calvary Officer as a riding boot after America entered into WW1 in 1917 this boot is the closest in designs and I believe to be the very first (AKA) Engineer Style Boot of its kind.
The Technical Engineer Boot Style cross references show the tall Stovepipe shaft that meets the Vamp Crown with elongated Heel Counter, wide Buckle Straps, Gusset upper Buckle Strap with Flat Almond/Square Toe shape, most likely a thicker 6 to 8 oz Cow Hide Leather.
Unfortunately the Maker/Manufacture is unknown.
5.1930 to 1936
"Dustbowl Era Farm Boot"
American WW1 Service Boots were Hand-repaired with Long Arm patcher Sewing Machines by family members or local Cobblers with plug nails, leather swatched patchwork resoled leather Half soles to survive the harsh conditions of the Depression era farm lifestyle / workwear and Train Conductor activities.
6. 1939 to 1945
WW2 Pilots Bomber Boots
(RAF) Royal Air Force & (Luftwaffe) German Pilots Bomber Boots.
The Royal Air Force Bomber Pilot Buckle Strap boot modeled after the "1936 Pattern Design Flying Boots" lined with Lambs Wool 14 to 17 inch shafts and the German "Luftwaffe" Pilot Flight Boots were built with a 24 Watt electrically heated Coil inserted into the Lambs Wool of the Boot Shaft that was connected to a cockpit battery dated 1942, made by HOFFMAN & Co.
1937 to 1940-
”The American Engineer Boot”
Both American shoe manufactures Chippewa & Wesco Boots released its first "Engineer Boot" between 1937-1939, similar in design they were both popular with Sportsman, Industrial Dock and Metal workers.
Chippewa built several versions of the Engineer style Boot using various types of leather hides and shaft lengths with a Northwest Loggers type beveled Heel known as the Woodsman.
The Engineer boot became so popular it was manufactured by several other independently operated shoemakers for many American catalog companies such as Montgomery Wards, Sears, JC Pennys who commissioned the Engineer until the late 1940s when an interest in short Military style work boots became more popular.
1950s Engineers and the Movies.
The resurgence of the Engineer Boot returned in the late 1950s popularized by Americas WW2 vets rebellious Motorcycle and HotRod Heritage spirit, once the movie industry caught on and released a series of Motorcycle culture driven Movies Featuring Marlon Brando (1954 The Wild Ones) and James Deans (1955 Rebel without a Cause) popularized the Engineer boot once again.
So whats with all the Train (Fireman) Engineer Boot marketing we keep hearing about, well your guess is as good as mine but my research leads me to believe that someone in Marketing decided that the name “Engineer” was far better than calling it a “1917 WW1 Calvary Boot” or “The Bomber Boot”.
America had just gone through some rough times leaving the Dust Bowl era of the1930s and the Financial Crash /Depression still fresh in Americas mind, Marketing being what it is most likely created a campaign that provided a sense of Opportunity as a guide to the possibilities of a forward thinking movement of expansion across Americas easily accessible Train network system. Creating intrigue while using the Iconic visual of the back breaking Tenacious Man scooping coal into the Fiery Furnace of a moving locomotive, dogging burning embers while wearing his Engineer Boots trekking across Americas open landscape.
In conclusion this may come as a surprise but I have yet to find a single Archival Documented Black in White Photographic picture of a (Railroad Train) “Fireman” (aka) Ash Cat (aka) Coal Shoveler (aka) Stoker, wearing a pair of manufactured Engineer Boots.
In all of the documentation of “The Fireman” I came across he wore Lace up Leather Boots, if an unlaced boot was worn it was more likely to be a Calvary style Riding Boot that would have been Custom Cobbled with a thicker Sole or a Custom Cobbled Bomber Pilots Boot adapted to with stand the conditions of his work efforts.
Americans Coal fired Trains operated between 1860 to1928 soon after Diesel and Electric took over.
KREOSOTE / 1-1-2022