The leaves are starting to change colors (or so I’m told), everyone’s talking about pumpkin spice lattes, and the dollar is gaining ground on the euro. When put together, these signs can only mean one thing – it’s time to grab some autumnal footwear.
The chukka boot is an incredibly versatile shoe and is perfectly at home in the autumnal months. I have two pairs and find myself reaching for them more than any other style. They make a great in-between shoe and I highly suggest that you try out a pair if you haven’t already.
Chukkas can be made in any number of materials, but their somewhat casual nature means that they look particularly good in textured materials like suede and pebble grain (although they’re also popular in cordovan). Here are just a few of my favorite models:
Meermin: This wallet-friendly brand has chukkas in four colors of suede: snuff, sand, navy, and dark brown (note that some have rubber soles and some have leather). All models are built on the Hiro last, which is classically round shape. Most people size down one full size from their US size, but consider sizing down ½ if you have a wide foot or a high instep. At under $235 shipped these provide a great value.
Carmina: the other Spanish darling has many models that come and go quickly, but one of their classics is a chocolate suede chukka on the Soller last, available at Quality Shop and Skoaktiebolaget for between $450 and $500. This is similar to the Meermin model, except that it is made of notably higher quality materials and has some slight design differences. Whether it’s worth the twofold price increase is up to you.
Loake: Loake shoes come in a few different lines, but the “1880” line is the best by a good margin and is really the only one worth looking at. There are a few sources for ordering Loake shoes; I have had good luck with Pediwear but feel free to shop around for better deals. There are two popular Loake chukka models – the Kempton, which is a snuff suede model on a classic round last, and the Pimlico (pictured above), which is in dark brown suede and is built on the slightly chiseled Capital last. Both Loake pairs come in at under $290 from Pediwear. It’s worth noting that the Kempton is also available at Brooks Brothers in snuff, dark brown suede, and pebble grain; these are currently sitting at $360 but can dip lower during sales. If you buy abroad in UK sizing, know that Loake lasts are generally quite roomy and you should have no problem sizing down one from your US size. EDIT: I’m told that the Brooks Brothers pairs above are actually made by Alfred Sargent; if this is the case, their current sale price is quite good (see more here and in the comments below).
Alden: America’s best shoe company makes several exceptional chukkas, my personal favorite being the unlined suede chukka on the Leydon last (available in snuff, tan, and dark brown suede). The Leydon typically fits a bit narrow so consider sizing up in width. There is also a cordovan model built on the Barrie last (generally speaking, go ½ size down). The product shots don’t do the shoes justice – they look great in person.
Allen Edmonds: this go-to brand is surprisingly light on chukka boots since they discontinued the Amok (sad face). The only one of note is their new “Gobi” boot, which is currently on sale for $249. I’m not a fan of the contrast lacing shown in the stock photo, but that can be easily changed, and for the price it could be a good option for those that don’t want to deal with international purchases.
Clarks: The company’s ubiquitous desert boots are a popular option for those that are uncomfortable spending big bucks on shoes. I think it’s worth saving up for the Loakes or Meermins above, but for the price these are a solid option.
Well, those are my picks. Which do you have (or want) in your rotation?