Early last year, John Elliott was gearing up for what would have been his first runway show at Paris Fashion Week. Then the world began to unravel. “We were sprinting to get things to the point where they could walk in the show,” Elliott says. “I think it was a Sunday when I started to hear that futures on the stock market were just crashing.”
We all know the freakshow subsequently ensued. The entire planet would come to a screeching halt, plans would be shelved, lives upended. Elliott canceled his show and hunkered down in L.A. with his family. The footwear line he had painstakingly worked on for years—the one he hoped to debut in Paris—would have to wait for another time.
That time is now. The first offering, a pair of suede combat boots, is available on Elliott’s website starting today. This is footwear that’s uncannily suited for the times in which we currently find ourselves. We’re not hitting gallery openings; we’re blazing trailheads in upper Appalachia. We’re not clamoring to get a reservation at a Michelin-starred restaurant; we’re exploring the hills around Malibu. With a combat silhouette and chonky Vibram soles, dainty, precious things these ain’t. These are boots that practically beg for abuse. “As they get dirty, as they get tarnished, these boots get better,” Elliott says.
Made in Italy, the suede lace-ups are actually modeled after traditional Italian mountaineering boots, but with updated details like a neoprene lining and extra cushioning in the footbed. The process of creating the boots during the pandemic was especially challenging for Elliott, who prides himself as a kinetic, hands-on designer. Fortunately, he got a lot of the groundwork done before the lockdown occurred.
“I was able to spend time in factories just outside Florence pre-COVID, right up until February of last year,” he explains. “When the transition occurred, there had been enough of a rapport built. Whether through hours of arguing over how to fold something or dinners where you find out about people’s families, these relationships were built on enough respect that we didn’t have to slow down.”
The end point Elliott reached was a boot that can be worn with almost anything—maybe even a suit, but that’s definitely a high risk/high reward scenario—and can be slipped on and off without much effort. “The goal here was really just to try to create something that is really easy to get on your foot, in terms of the amount of time and effort and feel,” Elliott says.
At first blush the combat boots don’t much resemble any of the footwear—sneakers like the much lauded Nike x Lebron James collaboration from 2018—Elliott has put out before. But examine them a little closer and you’ll start to notice the colors and the careful layering of different materials that have been a signature of Elliott’s design over the last decade. “When you get to a certain point, you build codes,” he says. “With footwear, the objective is to create something new that still works in a utilitarian way, where it could be part of a uniform. The ten-year run we’ve had here, it’s really been an experiment in creating a constantly evolving uniform.”
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Source : Esquire