Creepers are another staple of the underground music scene, possessing the same classic punk credentials as Dr Martens. They started out as a desert boot in 1945 following World War II, British troops based in North Africa wore suede boots with a thick crepe sole because of the climate and environment of where they were based. When they returned from the war, these soldiers found their way through the seedy nightspots of London, and their crepe soled boots became known as brothel creepers.
They have been a classic component of rock & roll style since the 1950’s, originally worn by the teddy boys, they were then adopted into the rebellious aesthetic of 70’s punk style, and remain popular today among many different subcultures. The traditional T.U.K black suede ‘Mondo Lo’ creepers are characterised by their hard wearing 3cm thick ‘crepe’ sole, which adds a subversive edginess to the simple classic style of the shoe.
The ribbed rubber sole makes almost no sound on a hard floor, so you can ‘creep’ around. The shoe features suede uppers, the round toe has the classic interlaced woven design around the front, and they are laced through the traditional stainless steel D rings, creating an original shoe with plenty of edge. With such a strong history in music and fashion, it’s no surprise that creepers have been worn by some of the most rebellious and independent minded individuals – famous wearers include bands like The Clash and Green Day. They have been popularised by mainstream culture in recent years, with singers such as Rihanna and Rita Ora wearing them in an attempt to add a touch of individuality to their look.
There are a few brands that create the traditional creeper shoe, three of the main ones are T.U.K, Underground and Demonia. The leading brand are T.U.K, an American company creating the classic black creeper styles as well as a huge variation of styles, fabrics and colour ways, and also four sole variations – the Mondo Lo creepers with a 3cm sole – the classic version; Mondo Hi Creepers with a 4cm sole; ladies wedge creepers which feminise the chunky shoe; even a sneaker version without the thick crepe sole, perfect for those who like the design of Creepers, but not the thick sole.
The range of colours and styles are impressive, you can choose from traditional suede or leather Creepers in the classic colour ways like black, white and red, some designs even have a different coloured interlaced design through the front for a more striking shoe. They have many designs with typical punk patterns like tartan and leopard print, and some modernised Creepers with smiley face patterns and brightly coloured soles. Prices for the classic creepers are around £75, a small price to pay for the originality and the rich history of individuality and expression that Creepers represent, not to mention the hard wearing quality of the shoe.
If you want a pair of Creepers made in Britain, I suggest buying a pair from Underground. Some might say that the creeper is an ugly shoe, I would say that they’re more of an acquired taste, they’re a style popularised by underground music and worn by punks and individuals with an eclectic and rebellious nature, so they’re not going to appeal to everyone.
For a watered down, less ‘alternative’ version of the shoe I would recommend the Creeper sneakers, for a casual version of this traditional rock & roll look. With such a great history in music and fashion, it’s interesting to note that the Creeper is still as popular today as it was in the 1970’s, truly a testament to an original and creative design that appeals to the rebellious individuals among us.