Get the look: Brothel creepers

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Calling all the teddy boys and the teddy girls, the subversives, the dissidents, the weirdos, blockheads, beatniks and all the creepy creep creeps: let’s rock this town!


‘We're gonna rock this town / Rock it inside out
We're gonna rock this town / Make ‘em scream and shout
Let's rock rock rock / We're gonna rock till we pop
We're gonna roll till we drop / We're gonna rock this town’

The Stray Cats, Rock this Town, 1981

You’ve probably seen the brothel creeper before. A truly diverse item, the brothel creeper – or creeper, or ted shoe, or beetle crusher – is a real genre-bender, a fashion shape-shifter, criss-crossing musical and aesthetic styles as diverse as underground punk, contemporary manufactured pop and 1950s kitchen-sink philosophy.

Linked by the punk aesthetic and the anti-establishment sub-culture, people who wear creepers hail from all walks of life but they are defined by common themes: these are people who thumb their noses at authority, dare to be different, dare to dream. Free thinkers, radicals, rockers, rollers, brawlers. Nostalgists, romantics, refuseniks, subversives.

From psychobilly to rockabilly, goth to new-wave, from ska to punk and dance to hillbilly, brothel creepers represent diverse sounds, sounds that move the soul but are linked by one common language: rock ‘n’ roll.
 

Contents

1. Rihanna: Get the look

2. Ian Dury: Get the look

3. Joe Strummer: Get the look

4. A potted history of the brothel creeper: Did you know...?


We thought we’d pick out 3 of our fave people who have embraced the spirit of the brothel creeper…

1. Rihanna


A few years ago  Rihanna donned a pair of suede creepers for an appearance on The X Factor, sparking the latest trend on creepers. And she’s not the only one. People like Fearne Cotton, Jessie J and Florence Welch have all fallen in thrall of our favourite suede beauties.

While she often gets flak for her fashion, our RiRi, like Lady Gaga, won’t be locked into any definitive style.

Great lyric
‘I'm a fine-tuned supersonic speed machine with a sunroof top and a gangsta lean,
So if you feel me let me know, know, know,
Come on now what you waiting for, for, for
My engine's ready to explode, explode, explode,
So start me up and watch me go, go, go.’
Shut Up and Drive, Good Girl Gone Bad (2007)

Key album
Rated R (2009)

Get the look...
How about some leopard-print brothel creepers?

Team with skin-tight jeans, and throw on a red-and-black-check flannel shirt and you’re good to go.

2. Ian Dury


The quixotic, enigmatic Ian Dury was the lead singer of the Blockheads and a punk poet. Live, the Blockheads were an absolute delight, an effervescent mix of streetwise London philosophy, funk and rock that all seemed to just somehow work perfectly.

Dury was a unique, u nlikely popstar. Troubled too. With a perhaps unparalleled grasp of the English language, his songs were laced with wit, pathos and longing, poetry, and emotion.

Great lyric
‘I could be a lawyer with stratagems and ruses,
I could be a doctor with poultices and bruises,
I could be a writer with a growing reputation,
I could be the ticket man at Fulham Broadway Station,
What a waste!’
What a Waste, single (1978)

Key album
Brand New Boots and Panties (1977)

Get the look... 
Get some electric blue cool-as-you-like creepers

Team them with drainpipe jeans, diamond earrings, a flat cap and a cravat.

3. Joe Strummer

Punk pioneer Joe Strummer was the lead singer of The Clash, one of the greatest British rock bands of all time. The leader of the punk movement in the 1970s, Strummer helped make brothel creepers the footwear of choice for the sub-culture.

Often pictured with cigarette in hand and in pensive mood, Strummer embodied the soul of anti-establishment London through his every pore.

Great quote
‘All the times when we were close,
I'll remember these things the most.
I see all my dreams come tumbling down,
I won't be happy without you around.’
Train in Vain, London Calling (1979)



Get the look
Get some classic black men’s creepers.

Team with a white t-shirt, then get yourself a leather jacket and top it off with a trilby hat. 

Potted history of the brothel creeper: Did you know...?

  • First created during World War II by soldiers who attached rubber soles to their suede boots
  • When these soldiers returned to Britain, they kept wearing them
  • Started appearing in nightclubs, which where they got the name 'brothel creepers'
  • Adopted by Teddy Boys in the '50s and '60s
  • They then spread to '70s punk culture
  • Usually made of suede, but you can get them in leather too
  • Still popular today!

We hope we've given you some inspiration.

One thing it's important to remember: the spirit and ethos of counter-culture means,  there are no rules.

Calling all the teddy boys and the teddy girls, the subversives, the dissidents, the weirdos, blockheads, beatniks and all the creepy creep creeps: let’s rock this town!
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