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Beverlyheels StyleFootwear: Derbies

Footwear: Derbies

Posted on Thu, Sep 28th, 2017

The Derby Horse

A Derby, also known as a Gibson, is a style of boot that is characterized by open lacing, where quarters with shoe lace eyelet are sewn on top of the vamp. This type of shoe became popular as a more comfortable version of the Oxfords that could fit into feet of any shape.

There are a number of theories regarding the origin of this shoe. Some theories credit Edward Smith-Stanley, the 14th Earl of Derby, for the new type of cut. It is said that the Earl had difficulties wearing boots due to large feet. Hence, his shoemaker developed an open-laced boot that accommodated his feet better.

Another theory says the open laced system was an evolutionary product of the closed lace system. It was developed for people with a high instep, for which the Oxford's closed lacing system doesn't have enough room. Thanks to the eyelet tabs being stitched to the top of the shoe's vamp, it made the Derby roomier.

Yet another theory goes back to the time of Napoleon. Boots were a standard issue in Napoleon's army in the 1800s. Then, a Prussian army officer Gebjard Leberecht von Blucher, developed a boot with two leather flaps below the ankles that could be laced together, so that his soldiers felt more comfortable in muddy and watery terrains.

Whatever the history, the Derby became a popular sporting and hunting boot in the 1850's. By the 20th century it had become appropriate for wear in town.

Compared to the Oxfords, the Derby to this day is considered more casual. While the Derbies may work in an office setting, it's not appropriate for a black-tie occasion. Its chunky look, too, hasn't helped its impression much. However, the comfortable, flexible and sturdy Derby has been mainstay of menswear for ages.

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