Brothel creeper

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A pair of "double sole" Creepers shoes
Ali Boulala Osiris Shoes Brothel Creepers trainers

Creepers or brothel creepers are a type of shoe which often has suede uppers and characteristically thick crepe soles. The shoes were first developed as a fashion item following World War II. They have been popular on and off with various subcultures ever since.


These shoes found their beginnings in the years following World War II, as soldiers based in the deserts in North Africa wore suede boots with hard-wearing crepe rubber soles because of the climate and environment. Having left the army, many of these ex-soldiers found their way to the nightspots of London wearing the same crepe-soled shoes and these became known as "brothel creepers". A soft crepe rubber sole makes almost no sound on a hard floor, unlike leather-soled shoes. However, the British Boot Company have suggested that the name creeper derives from and is an adaption of the word crepe[citation needed].

In the late 1950s, these shoes were taken up by the Teddy Boys along with drainpipe trousers, draped jackets, bolo ties, quiff and pompadour haircuts, and velvet or electric blue clothes. This style of shoe was developed in 1949 by George Cox and marketed under the "Hamilton" name, based on George Cox Jr.'s middle name.[1]

Self-made brothel creepers were picked up by the Soviet subculture stilyagi (rus. стиляги) in the mid 1950s. They were called "ботинки на манной каше", literally men's "shoes on semolina", because they used to call the thick crepe sole "semolina".

Maxim Matveev wearing a brothel creepers, while shooting the Russian musical "Stilyagi"

The brothel creeper regained popularity in the early 1970s when Malcolm McLaren sold them from his "Let it Rock" shop in London's Kings Road. Teddy Boys were the obvious customers,[clarification needed] but the brothel creeper still proved to be popular among regular customers[2] when McLaren and his partner Vivienne Westwood changed the shop to more rocker-oriented fashion.

The shoe has since been adopted by subcultures such as indie, ska, punk, new wavers, psychobilly, greasers and goth, Japanese Visual Kei, and was the footwear of choice for Bananarama and Saffron (of Republica fame).[3]

The original George Cox creepers are still made, but have only 18 registered stockists worldwide.[citation needed]

Due to the resurgence in popularity of grunge culture, creepers became much more mainstream in 2011 with popular artists such as R&B singers Rita Ora and Rihanna [4] wearing pairs by Underground England. Pop music was not long in following creepers' rise, with Carly Rae Jepsen and Miley Cyrus wearing creeper shoes.

Some well-known brands currently recognized are, for example, George Cox, Underground England, T.U.K. and PinSoup & Creeperscustom.


  1. ^ See the 50th anniversary Creeper marketed in 1999 to celebrate the first half-century of Cox's Creeper shoe.
  2. ^ See also this site for a brief introduction to the history of the shop.
  3. ^ As per Absolute Radio interview
  4. ^ The Sun 2010

The Windsor Style by Suzy Menkes (Publishing Date:1988) The Windsor Style on page 102 refers to the Prince of Wales (Edward VIII/Duke of Windsor) as visiting New York in 1924 wearing a pair of tan suede "Brothel Creepers": "The Prince had scandalized society by arriving in New York in 1924 wearing tan suede brothel creepers with a wide-lapelled double-breasted light grey suit." The Duke of Windsor is quoted as saying regarding this incident: "I noticed that my American friends were looking down at my feet with some embarrassment," he says, "Finally someone explained that the wearing of these shoes in America was regarded as effeminate, to say the least of it." There was no photo or illustration of the brothel creepers that the Duke of Windsor is here referring to, so there would be no way to know if the shoe he is referring to the same style of shoe as mentioned in this article. It does perhaps indicate that the term " brothel creeper" could have been in use in the 1920s, which is quite a bit earlier than the post WWII reference in this article.