Origin of the Trend: Duck Boots

New England hunting attire is spreading to downtown Boston. As autumn hints at winter, students bust out their boots to warm their sock-clad feet. Specifically their duck boots. While rain boots (like those Hunter Wellies you adore so much)  and cowboy boots are great for early, rainy fall, nothing is more functional and fashionable in the increasingly harsh Boston winters than these shoes worn by New England waterfowlers. This fall’s shoe staple, like its outerwear counterparts, is a nod to the utilitarianism of uniform-derived menswear.

The boots were popularized by hunters who waded in the marshy waters of Maine and Massachusetts trailing ducks. As if that wasn’t made obvious by the name. Rubber soles have consistently been used when combating water-logged locations, like rivers. And they translate well to cold inner-cities with rain. The terrains really are quite comparable.

The second half of the 1800s saw the advent of rubber -soled shoes, called plimsolls, according to SneakerHead.com. The hunting community adopted the style and was soon after producing tall boots with thick rubber bottoms. These were durable (and complicated to put on, because of all the laces).

In 1912, the duck boot was designed for mass-production, so non-duck hunters (but still outdoorsy types) could wear them on their treks that were a bit less rigorous than those involving sloshing around to get a good aim at a duck; L.L. Bean’s Maine Hunting Shoe (a.k.a. duck boots) debuted in 1912, according to LLBean.com, soon after the company’s 1911 creation.

Timberland (then the Abington Shoe Company in Massachusetts) started producing the sporty waterproof boots in 1965. The shoes came to be known as “Timberlands” in 1973, according to Timberland.com, and have been laced up by many a rapper and New England resident. You know, like Timbaland (who is not from New England, f.y.i.).

Columbia followed the trend after their footwear line launched in 1993. Sporto and, more recently, Pomé are other brands devoted to the duck boot style.

This year, duck boots finally got sexy. Tommy Hilfiger’s heeled duck boots don’t really serve the same purpose as the original shoe, but they’re probably still warm. What more do you need? Victoria’s Secret is currently selling multiple styles by Sorel and the Marc by Marc Jacobs line features a cute pair, shown below on Christina Aguilera.

And if Christina is wearing them while carrying her adorable toddler, you know they’re classy.

Published at The Lion, The Stitch, and The Wardrobe on December 1, 2010

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