Thursday, 10 June 2010

The Wonder Of Shoes

The intention behind this post is to tie up the loose laces (oh dear) of Steve's footwear. Anyway, a bit of news first: part of Tommy Hilfiger's autumn collection will take inspiration from Steve McQueen. Oh dear.

Anyway, the boot. You can go miles in suede or rough-out leather boots. They're comfortable enough for you to be able, and want, to wear them much of the time. Winter might well prompt a rethink to a more waterproof leather, however. (Note also that summer showers will make at least your lighter-coloured suede boots look worn in a funny rather than cool way unless you apply protector.)

Red Wing 875

Red Wing makes footwear that accords with Steve's cool. They're hip of late but have manufactured work boots in the US for over a century. Steve favoured the 877 when he was motorcycle racing. The more manageable version is the classic 875. Make sure they're the right, ridiculously named "oro-iginal" colour.

Red Wing 3141

The 3141 leather chukka is a smaller dark brown bit of footwear. It's a sturdy alternative to the Bullitt-type suede boot.

McQueen horsing around in the fitness room (1963) from the book Unforgettable Steve McQueen, edited by Henri Suzeau

Now back to more summery stuff. Anybody sane would kill to know exactly what kind of white lace canvas shoes Steve wore in the Life photo I put up last post. They're probably the same as the shoes in the above photo. No matter how many people we mercilessly murder, though, I doubt we'll know any of these things for certain. Californian company SeaVees invokes McQueen in its blurb and seems to make a decent enough shoe for $120. Who knows if Steve McQueen ever even heard of SeaVees though? Puma's 917 connection is just as slight. It's a shoe apparently inspired by the Porsche that Steve McQueen drives in Le Mans.

Keds Champion

Steve's plimsolls are something other than Keds Champion, too, but they're an excellent alternative. They're hip of late but the brand has been about since 1916. The huge online fashion shop ASOS sells them for £40. Go for your usual size and you can exchange them for free if they fit badly. ASOS also sells a nifty slip-on pair of Keds for the same price.

The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Steve fleetingly sports these navy canvas shoes in The Thomas Crown Affair. I just found a pair of navy Keds Champion on eBay (again £40).

Wearing Adidas on the set of Le Mans (1971)

McQueen did wear more substantial trainers (above). Adidas was founded by a guy named Adolf by the way and yes, he was a Nazi. Just like his brother, the founder of Puma.

The Hunter (1980)

I've heard that the trainers Steve wears in The Hunter are by Japanese vintage brand Onitsuka Tiger, their classic Mexico 66 model. They look about as good as post-plimsoll trainers can, but the stripes are different to those on Steve's shoes. I've heard some people say that McQueen was at his most stylish for The Hunter, but they're wrong. I'll return to this point in another post.

Right, that gives footwear the boot. Steve of course wore all sorts of other things on the end of his legs. Brown boots and canvas shoes are about the essence of Steve McQueen style, though.

It was mostly sunny here for a couple of weeks, but that's gone now. If it returns, I might be in the mood for a summer special next time.


  1. in the thomas crown affair ol' steve is wearing a pair of sperry top siders navy blue.....for sure. unfortunately this is not the model that they have reproduce for their 75th anniversary edition .....check my blog on the ww2 navy deck shoes it's the same for the model worn on the "rope picture" it's just plain white hi tops......cheers

  2. Thanks for this, Patrick. I'll pop up another post on it soon.

  3. bertram@bmoshier.net1 March 2012 at 00:45


    For the sneakers Steve McQueen is wearing in 1968 (Navy Blue), while they might be Sperry Top-Sider sneakers (also worn by the character Mike Nelson in Sea Hunt), I believe they are a different brand / model.

    In 1968 Keds manufactured more than Keds Champions (those seen in this article/blog) for Men and Boys. They also were selling another model called Surfers. (NOTE: Vans later came out with their own Surfer model, but these are not them.)

    I believe the sneakers are Men's Keds Surfer model, which Keds made from the mid 1960's through the early 1970's. They made them in two versions, one with the Keds logo inlaid into the flat gum sole and the other with the logo on the heel. You can see close up of these sneakers (in White, not Navy) in the Hawaii Five-O episode "And They Painted Daisies on His Coffin" (Season 1, Episode 6, 1968). Danny kills a suspect and you can clearly see the sneakers both during the chase and BEST once he's shot, through, the door by Danny. When he's pulling himself along the floor you can see the sole of his shoes and the inlaid Keds logo.

    NOTE: The Keds Surfer model came in CVO, slip-on for Men, Women, Girls, and Boys.

    A Google search for "Keds Surfer" will return both articles and images of these sneakers.

  4. The Schier boot looks great. If I ever get some money again, I'll try them. The Clarks Sandals is great. I love the crepe soles. Natural and sustainable. I love the whole boot. It's too much for a few people that Clarks makes its desert boot in Asia. These people usually give me the impression that the root problem is racism rather than any sound ethical consideration. It's also too much for a few that Clarks Slippers are relatively common, but it's rare to be that pathetic. Most of us understand that the Clarks Desert Boot is great: now you understand even more than most.