Reviews & opinions

The Rise of the Combat Boot: A Sign of the Times? 

26th January 2020

TEXT BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI | PHOTOGRAPHY BY PUTTONEN RUSKA

As we enter the new millennium, the chunky combat boots has never felt more relevant. 

Boots tend to be more about necessity and less about a fashion statement, yet they’re far from immune to trends. 

There was a time when it was all about the thigh-high boot, then Demna Gvasalia created the sock boot at Balenciaga which went on to be immortalized by none other than Cardi B, while cow boy boots also tend to have their moment every couple of years.

The last few seasons though there was a more dramatic trend shift and a new silhouette emerged that was previously mostly reserved for men and for army camps: The combat boot started frequenting women’s wardrobes for the first time.

Even brands known for their flair for softness and femininity like Christian Dior paired tulle skirts with sturdy, flat lace-up boots; Christian Louboutin added his signature spikes on the toes of chunky combat boots; The Row created their own sleek version in luxe black leather; while Jimmy Choo embellished theirs with crystals. 

As the trend evolved and gained momentum, designs got even bolder and soles kept getting chunkier and chunkier. No one illustrated this better than Prada, whose heavy duty boots featuring rugged soles and zip-fastening compartments were an instant sell-out the moment they hit the shop floor, after making their debut in the opening look of the house’s fall 2019 show. 

As we are also gradually moving away from the concept of putting women in boxes and asking them to subscribe to one single aesthetic, a puffy dress paired with a pair of extra chunky combat boots has never felt more relevant. 

Ditto for Bottega Veneta – probably the ultimate accessories trendsetter at the moment – which created yet another hit with its military leather boots featuring extra thick rubber soles. Naturally the high street has been filled with more accessibly priced alternatives, while heritage labels like Dr. Martens – whose famous combat boots were previously reserved for punks – are having a revival of their own. 

The long waiting lists for all the above styles are a clear sign that women are collectively embracing this new silhouette in their shoe wardrobes. But why this sudden shift from the more delicate, feminine styles we’ve been used to? 

There’s never one way to an answer, but it’s without a doubt that we are living in a troubled world where our planet is in danger, wars are being declared, countries are deeply divided when it comes to their political direction and women are still fighting for rights as basic as equal pay. 

Whether consciously or subconsciously designers are absorbing these global events and translating them into the clothes and footwear they propose every season. In most cases this has meant pieces that encourage freedom of movement and inspire a sense of fierceness and confidence — it’s no wonder that often women have been tucking their chunky-soled boots into loose tailored suits. 

Post the Me Too movement, a sense of needing to fight has also been engrained in the subconscious of myriads of women and military stomping boots or a suit that means business might just be a way to channel this feeling when it comes to dressing. 

On a less macro level, these are also shoes that fit into the kind of modern lifestyle that requires you to get up at 7a.m. to work, socialize, run your errands, take care of your family and not come back until late in the evening. All you have to do is slip on your sturdy boots and get ready to face the day. 

It helps too that this silhouette adds a trendy touch to even the simplest of outfits and can create a cool contrast when paired with feminine dresses or skirts. As we are also gradually moving away from the concept of putting women in boxes and asking them to subscribe to one single aesthetic, a puffy dress paired with a pair of extra chunky combat boots has never felt more relevant. 

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