Brogue. The [re]definition.
Brogues, or brog, is originally the Old Norse word for foot leather, leg leather or shoe. The word came with the Vikings to Ireland and Scotland in the 8th century where it was integrated into Celtic and then later borrowed into English.
It is a style of shoe or boot characterised by multiple-piece, sturdy leather uppers with the traditional decorative perforations. Modern brogues trace their roots to a simple shoe that was constructed using untanned hide, featuring these decorative perforations. They are often said to originate from the Irish brogues as well, with holes intended to allow water to drain from the shoes when the wearer crossed wet terrain such as a bog. However, newer descriptions of the original shoe do not mention such holes.
Brogues were in the early twentieth century traditionally worn by men and considered a form of outdoor shoe. At that time they were not considered to be appropriate for basically any other occasions. Over time the idea obviously has changed and brogues are now considered suitable footwear in most contexts. Brogues continue to still be most common as a leather dress shoes but can also be found in many other forms including casual shoes / boots, canvas and leather sneakers.
The types of brouges are determined by the shape of the toe cap and include the commonly available full brogue (or "wingtip" in the United States), semi-brogue and quarter brogue styles. It may also be found in the less common longwing brogue style.
- Full brouges, also known as wingtips, are characterised by a pointed toe cap with extensions that run along both sides of the toe, terminating near the ball of the foot. Viewed from the top, this toe cap style is "W" shaped and looks similar to a bird with extended wings, explaining the style name "wingtips" that is commonly used in the United States. The toe cap of a full brogue is both perforated and serrated along its edges and includes additional decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap called the medallion.
- Austerity brogue has a wingtip-shaped toe cap without any perforations.
- Blind brogue has no actual toe cap, but has perforations in the shape of the wingtip-style as if it had a toe cap.
- Semi-brogues, or half brogues, are characterised by a straight-edged toe cap with decorative perforations and serration along the cap's edge and also includes additional decorative perforations in the center of the toe cap. The half brogue was first designed and produced by Johan Lobb Ltd. as an Oxford in the early 1900s when shoes first began to take the place of boots, in an effort to offer his customers a shoe more stylish than a plain oxford, yet not as bold as a full brogue.
- Quarter brogues are characterised by a toe cap with the decorative perforations and serrations only along the cap's edge and missing the above described medallion. Quarter brogues are more formal than semi brogues and full brogues, one might even say they are the most formal of dress shoes with brogueing.
- Longwing brouges are characterised by wings that extend the full length of the shoe, meeting at a center seam at the heel. Longwing Derby brogues were most popular in the US during the 1970s, and although the popularity of this style has decreased, it remains available on the market. Longwing brogues are also known as "American" brogues.
And as could be expected the Bum Society´s versions of brouge shoes / boots were designed with very little to none of the above in mind, a part of originating from the North of Europe. And since ours were made with women and men equally visoned in all our products, we find you as wearers of the B.S boot to be a part of the brogue evolution. Or the re-definition of it all.