Style Story: The History Behind The Infamous Creeper Shoes

Rafaela Sanchez
Rafaela is one of 20 Something's newest fashion contributors She says she's from Fort Lauderdale, Florida but everyone knows she's really from a dumb suburb called Plantation. New York has "F****d the suburbs" out of her (as Of Montreal would put it) and she's now a proud and not-yet head-to-toe-tatted Brooklyn babe. As a fashion contributer, Rafaela hopes to draw from the music, people, cities, and wine that inspire her every day, and infuse her writing with her overall feelings on life and style: "I don't give a--" Favorite quote: "Thoughts. But also, feelings." -Father John Misty Alma Mater: University of Florida

For the Thom Yorke-enthusiasts like myself, the word creepers brings to mind Radiohead’s Pablo Honey… naturally. To the less melodramatic folk, creepers may mean Louis Armstrong’s 1958 hit “Jeepers Creepers” (if you’re a closet grandpa…hi) or perhaps even memories of the stalker nose-picker that sat behind you in 6th grade. Either way, none of the above have anything to do with the objective of this piece, except for, of course, the word creepers.

This is about the things on your feet that prevent you from contracting weird diseases on the streets.

A lot of today’s trends are appropriations of niche styles of the past. Whether you’re a lay person posing as an NBA star in LeBron XII’s or a mom-jean-wearing non-mom with a serious fupa fetish, we’ve all taken styles specific to one group and made them our own. We’ve seen the punk kids stroll by in their black platformed kicks, elevated above us all in the name of anarchy. But our pierced friends weren’t the first to adopt this trend. Creepers, once referred to as “brothel creepers,” first gained popularity amongst non-anarchist North African soldiers, post-WWII. Irony! Some say the name creepers stems from the shoe’s crepe rubber soles, but then again, the French like to take credit for everything.

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George Cox Jr. of Wellingborough, U.K., gave creepers their first commercial recognition in the 1950s. After being picked up by the “Teddy boy” subculture (basically dudes in trousers and waistcoats), the shoes creepy-crawled their way into the British 1970s punk culture.

A man by the name of Malcolm McLaren, whose name you probably recognize from the little boutique on Kings Road where Vivienne Westwood got her start, started reselling creepers to none other than these very same Teddy Boys; and faster than you could say Sex Pistols (or even have sex), creepers made the transition into mainstream fashion. Since then, various brands have adopted the creepers, catching the attention of non-punkers who may have been scared to don the shoe-wear previously . Dr. Martens (ok fine, they’re punk), designs platformed versions of their signature boots; Superga’s 2790 Flatform trainer offers a slimmer and less aggressive option; and as of last month, Puma applied its athletic take on the creeper, with the help of the universe’s resident Barbadian, Rihanna.

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

So…the point? Maybe there is no point, but maybe, just maybe, you’ll ask yourself the broader questions here — do subculture trends lose their edge when appropriated by the larger mainstream fashion culture? Will subculture trends lose their identity as more people incorporate them into their personal styles — styles distant from trends’ origins? How much weed does Rihanna really smoke? Will wearing creepers give Thom Yorke the perfect body… the perfect soul?

A photo posted by badgalriri (@badgalriri) on

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