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history Chelsea boots

Chelsea boots were developed in the 1840s and the design relied on the invention of vulcanised rubber. With elastic side gussets instead of laces or buttons, the boots were marketed as time-saving and convenient. Originally known as ‘paddock boots’ and used for horseback riding, the ‘Chelsea’ name was attributed to the style in the 1950s.

history Chelsea boots


The first example of the fitted pull-on ankle boot known today as ‘Chelsea’ was developed in the 1840s by a London boot-maker to Queen Victoria. Its design relies on the invention of vulcanised rubber, where sulphur is added to natural rubber to make it elastic and more durable.

Sewn from two pieces of leather, the front vamp and the back quarters, the boots featured elastic side gussets instead of laces or buttons and could easily be slipped on and off. The patented design was marketed as time-saving, convenient and as corresponding to the feet’s anatomical form.

Elastic-side boots were long used for horseback riding and were referred to as ‘paddock boots’ until the early 20th century. The name Chelsea was attributed to the style during the 1950s, named after an influential collective of London artists and musicians.