About the Author: Carlon H. is the creator of The Shoe Enthusiast, an Instagram and Youtube channel devoted to his love of footwear. When he’s not taking daily shots of shoes or doing a Youtube review, he’s a High School administrator and teacher in Texas. While not at work, Carlon parents two amazing daughters.
The Bond franchise is a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because every Bond film brings with it a wealth of style inspiration, but it’s a curse in that most of those styles involve dropping massive amounts of coin to wear what 007 wore. And while No Time to Die has been delayed until November, in anticipation + quarantine induced binge watching, many of us have been going back through the catalog.
No better time to try, right?
Soft, rich, polo snuff suede.
James Bond sure seems to like suede chukkas. A lot. And imagine my surprise to learn that the suede chukkas from SPECTRE can be had for a relatively reasonable price. The Sanders and Sanders Hi Top chukkas clock in around the low 200’s. Not cheap, but these boots can be had for most budgets, which is pretty rare for shoes made in England.
History of the Shoe
The Sanders “Playboy” chukka’s history has been intertwined with the entertainment industry for decades. Prior to their appearance in Spectre, the Sanders “Playboy” chukka was associated with American actor and style icon, Steve McQueen. McQueen wore the Sanders chukkas in some of his most famous films, including The Thomas Crown Affair and Bullitt. Not only did McQueen wear the Sanders chukkas on screen, but he was often seen wearing them off set. Since then, they have been worn by just about anybody wanting to emulate his “King of Cool” style–including Daniel Craig.
Made in England.
The moment I put these boots on, I realized why they have stayed so popular over the years. They really strike a mean balance between casual cool stylishness and comfort.
Construction, Materials, and Comfort
The boots come in multiple colors, with the pair shown in this post being the “snuff suede” option. Though the Bond community is split as to whether the chukkas worn in Spectre are the chocolate version or the polo snuff, I chose the polo snuff, as I think the color is more versatile. Two pairs of eyelets keep it simple, and the soft leather lining is quite nice.
The bumper crepe sole.
The signature look of these boots is the crepe bumper sole. Crepe soles are made of coagulated rubber and are very soft and comfortable. You almost get a “bouncy” feeling when you walk in these boots. Let me just say, these things are super comfortable the minute you put them on. I wore these just once and there was absolutely zero break-in necessary. I could (theoretically) chase bad guys from the get-go. Although you’ll want to be a bit careful on wet, smooth surfaces, as crepe of all kinds can hydroplane.
The higher than average “bumper” edge.
Might look a little unusual on the screen, but they really do look terrific in person.
The one knock you might get with the Sanders chukka is that they are not Goodyear welted. Rather, the crepe bumper sole is bonded (pun intended) onto the upper. This might turn off some but one benefit the Sanders chukka has is that the sole is a one-piece unit that prevents separation of the heel area, which can sometimes occur with crepe soles. Generally speaking, these are well-constructed shoes befitting English shoemaking.
Sizing & Sourcing
The Sanders are made in UK sizes, so the way to convert to US sizing is to go down a full size from your US size. I normally wear a 10.5US so I would normally take a 9.5UK. The Sanders boot, however, runs a bit narrow so I sized up half a size (10UK) and it fit perfectly. Meanwhile, Joe reports that his normally 10.5D foot fits great in a 9.5 UK, but his took a little bit of time to break in, and he usually wears his with medium weight to thinner socks. So, YMMV. Bottom line: If you like a bit more room, size down by half to convert. If you wear thinner socks and a closer fit, size down the normal full size from US to get your UK size.
Nice shape. Not work boot clunky, not elf-shoe pointy.
I got mine at Stuarts of London, which seemed to have them at the best price with free shipping. Ordering was easy and I got my boots within a week. Though keep in mind that if they don’t fit, you are on the hook for a steep return fee of $40 to have DHL ship them back overseas. If you’re looking for a US retailer, Huckberry also has these in various colors with limited sizing available.
2023 UPDATE: Huckberry has started stocking these with free US Shipping and free US returns.
Simple. Super comfortable.
No matter which color you choose, they will pair well with most casual outfits. I’ve been wearing mine this summer in true Bond style with chinos and a polo. It might be “Secret Agent” smart-casual, but there’s no secret about how good that simple combination can look.