The Transcontinental Chelsea Boot
I initially came into contact with the Chelsea boot at the office.
I was interning at a bank in London, hopelessly broadcasting my Americanism daily with cuffed pants and loud neckties.
At work, the Aussies favored these boots over the omnipresent English brogue, which I assumed had filled them with an undefined nostalgia for the outback. They looked clean with a navy suit, but still carried an edge.
Before moving back Stateside, I made the rounds to several old shoemakers for a pair. The shape of the toe varied from rounded to chiseled to pointed. The elastic gusset came in a variety of v’s and u’s.
I needed something classic, yet with modern lines, for slim jeans and late-night mischief back in New York.
The Hutchinson from Loake came out on top. Needless to say, I chose black.
Interestingly, Loake outsources this specific model, part of the Design Loake collection, to India. The one-piece leather is spotless, but requires an initial base shine to bring out the natural luster and protect against moisture.
Pick a different pair if you intend to wear them right out of the box. If you don’t mind putting in the time to polish them yourself, then the Hutchinson is a good value.
The elongated toe box looks modern and sleek while still proportionate. The Goodyear welted sole features a rubberized forepart, which provides reliable traction in rain.
Out in the wild, you find a great variety in the quality of gussets. All of Loake’s Chelsea boots use heavy-duty elastic webbing that feels hard to the touch. If you consider how many times you intend to pull your boots on and off during their lifespan, the gusset must be built like a tank.
English sizing can be a bit tricky. I’m generally a 9.5 US and sized down to an 8 UK in Loake.
The boot was snug in the shop, especially around the ankles. This became comfortable over time as the gusset opened from wear.
As for the elongated toe, there’s plenty of room despite how narrow the shoe looks in profile. The footbed broke in quickly, molding to my foot.
They sadly chose red insoles, which are a nice creative touch, but left many of my socks discolored after wear. I intend to swap these out.
The boots are very lightweight, possibly benefiting from the low-profile sole. As the name suggests, these are city boots. Stay on the sidewalk or things get uncomfortable. Between the taxi and bar, however, it’s a smooth ride.
These boots are resilient. My previous Church’s and Grenson boots lost their magic well before a first birthday.
The Loake Hutchinsons have seen water, mud, salt, and a misplaced cocktail on more than a few occasions. With simple cloth and water wipe-downs and a monthly cream shine, the boots look excellent with minimal creasing.
They’ve held shape remarkably well. Surprisingly, the soles have yet to require a replacement, even at the toe, where I typically do the most damage.
In the $200-$300 price point, the Loake Hutchinson outperforms on quality; only a tad more expensive than the fast-fashion houses. Grab a towel and some polish.