Originally designed for walking over wet terrain, the brogue come a long way to become the staple of traditional fashion it’s seen as today. But where did the brogue come from and how did it get so popular?
The History of the Brogue
The word ‘Brogue’ itself seems to come from the Old Norse word ‘brók’ (meaning leg covering) and afterwards can be found in the Old Irish word ‘bróg’ which simply means ‘shoe’.
Originally, the brogue was only meant for walking over wet terrain and people even thought it was inappropriate to where them during social occasions or in business. Mostly worn by working class population, they weren’t seen as the smart-looking shoe that they are now. To be fair, these brogues essentially looked like a leather bag with holes – nothing like the great-looking quality we can make nowadays.
The design that specifically helped the men drain water after walking through wet, muddy ground was mainly favoured by Scottish and Irish mercenaries fighting in Europe in the 17th Century. The name given to making these small holes is ‘brogueing’. You can see those small holes still exist in modern brogues, like in the picture.
Inventions in the 1800s made huge changes in the shoemaking business and it became much easier to create higher quality shoes at lower prices. Shoemaking took an almost 180-degree turn in the 19th century, beginning the century by being completely handmade to seeing the century out being almost completely mechanical.
After continuing to grow in popularity in the early 1900s, the Prince of Wales wore the brogue for golfing in the 1930s and the brogue saw popularity like never before. You can see movie stars like Gene Kelly and Fred Astaire dancing in the modern version of the brogue. Elvis wore white buckskin saddle in the movie Jailhouse Rock and his Blue Suede Shoes were even auctioned off for £48,000 in 2013. Brogues are still so popular today because they’ve become the perfect mix between historical heritage and modern style.