Veldskoene ("FELT-skoona") or colloquially vellies ("FELL-ys"), are Southern African walking shoes made from vegetable-tanned leather or soft rawhide uppers attached to a leather footbed and rubber sole without tacks or nails.
The name comes from Afrikaans vel ("skin"), later assimilated with veld ("field"), and skoene ("shoes"). They were first made in the 17th century by the first Dutch settlers in South Africa. Their design is believed to be based on the traditional Khoisan footwear observed by these settlers. The footwear was later embedded into the Afrikaaner psyche when velskoene were used as the footwear of the Great Trek.
Easy to make, lightweight and extremely tough, vellies became part of South African, Zimbabwean (previously Rhodesian) and Namibian society, worn by all classes and professions, often without socks, but favoured by students, farmers and safari guides. Nathan Clark's shoe company, C&J Clark, made the desert boot famous, modeled after the same round toe and style of veldskoens. Clark was inspired by the shape and design of veldskoene he discovered for sale in the bazars of Cairo, which were imported to Egypt from South Africa.
They are sometimes considered light boots, and can essentially be considered a subset of chukka boots or desert boots although vellies tend to have a lower topline. Veldskoene soles are sometimes cut from old car tyres rather than crepe rubber.
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