James Bond’s Chukka of Choice
I’m writing today about Church’s Ryder III because my previous pair of desert boots had finally bit the dust and were more than ready to be replaced.
I’d bought my previous pair some 10 years ago and although they were nothing special, they did what they were supposed to worked well for me.
Style is very personal, however, there are items that are so classic, that they should be a staple regardless of age, style preferences, and so on.
And to me, the desert boot (or chukka boot) is a such piece. So it was never a question of if my old chukkas should be replaced, but rather which pair should replace them.
Why I Chose Church’s Ryder III Chukka
I finally settled on Church’s Ryder III Chukka boot for a number of reasons.
From fall through and spring, these are an absolute essential. As the weather in Denmark is often chilly and rainy, this style of boot is a perfect companion.
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Being a massive fan of most things related to James Bond, I must admit that it sort of influenced my choice as well.
Church’s Ryder III is known by fans as James Bond’s choice in the movie Quantum of Solace, and as you’d expect, Bond perfectly displays the chukka boot’s versatility.
And versatility is the best word when it comes to styling Church’s Ryder III. You simply cannot go wrong with this boot.
Pair it with jeans – dark or light, washed or untouched, chinos or even with a casual suit. It just works!
Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, I would, however, argue that pairing them with shorts might be pushing just a tad…
For inspiration, look at the outfits in all Daniel Craig’s appearances as James Bond, and you’ll have a flawless Chukka-boot lookbook.
STYLE DEFINED: What is a desert boot?
One thing I feel compelled to mention is that I did not choose to order a brand new pair. Instead, I did some research and made a secondhand purchase, the reasons for which I’ll be getting to in just a bit.
Church’s is one of the most renowned and historically significant manufacturers of shoes and boots. Church’s history can be traced all the way back to 1617, but the Church’s & Co. we know today was officially established in 1873 by Thomas Church, his wife Eliza and their two sons Alfred and William. To this day, they still manufacture the finest handmade luxury English shoes in their own Northampton factory.
Church’s Ryder III: Design & Construction
Church’s Ryder III is simplicity in boot form. It’s classic and timeless and the perfect combination of comfort, function, and style.
Let’s talk details.
The Ryder III is an ankle high chukka boot with a dark brown super soft Castoro suede upper, double sole, and extra internal lining to prolong its longevity, which is necessary if these will be your go-to pair of desert boots.
Sizing was my biggest concern. And let’s be honest, that a concern any time you’re purchasing online.
I did some research on various websites and forums and only found one review that addressed this issue. However, it wasn’t the best advice.
The author of the review recommended sizing down one whole size. So, I did the same – sadly only to return the boots as they, for me, were exact true to size. For reference, I am a Church’s size 90 (EU Size 43 / UK Size 9 / US Size 10) as I am in most cases.
An extremely important detail of Church’s Ryder III is the Goodyear construction.
If you are new to the high-end footwear world, Goodyear construction is a huge upgrade that separates disposable footwear from heritage, long-life footwear. Goodyear construction is both a time-consuming and difficult-to-master process, which makes footwear with this type of construction more expensive.
On the flip side, what you’re getting is a durable and much better constructed boot, that will last you a lifetime.
The common way of producing footwear today, is by gluing the upper leather directly to the outsole – the so-called cement construction. This is much easier and not as costly or time-consuming for the maker. However, when the outsole is worn down, it is very difficult to replace the sole and thereby lengthen the life of the shoe.
A Goodyear welt is a strip of leather that is sewn between the upper and the outsole, to hold the shoe together. The welt can easily be unstitched, which then detaches the sole without damaging the rest of the shoe – meaning that it can be replaced repeatedly.
Goodyear welted shoes are made to last. Care for them, and they will last for decades! As long as you make sure to care for the rest of your shoe, then both the heel and sole can be replaced indefinitely.
Another advantage of Goodyear welting is comfort. The addition of the welt creates a small cavity underneath the insoles, that is filled with granulated cork that cushions, and over time, molds after your feet.
Church’s Ryder III – Worth It?
It’s time to talk about the elephant in the room – price. Because Church’s Ryder III chukkas are not cheap (or should I say, inexpensive).
So are they worth it?
For me personally, at the retail price and all things considered, I would have to say a resounding YES.
In my opinion, there’s much to justify the high price tag. The fact that they are handmade, the feel of the extremely soft suede that doesn’t seem to wear out despite daily use and of course the Goodyear welt. And this minor (well, significant) detail takes them into the category that I see as making them worth the price tag – Church’s Ryder III is an investment.
As explained above, the Goodyear welt makes it possible to resole endlessly, providing you with a lifelong companion. No, it is a not an insignificant expenditure, but it’s worth it if you consider longevity.
Consider Second Hand Alternatives
Which leads me to the path that I chose in acquiring them.
I found mine secondhand in a shop that has built a whole concept revolving these high-end shoes. The shop, Brugnoli in Rome, has been trading shoes since 1969 – their shop carrying brands like Alden, Berwick 1707, Trickers and formerly Church’s and Cheaney.
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Given their vast history, they know and acknowledge the high level of quality in these artisanal shoes. Therefore, the customer can trade in a pair of shoes, and the amount paid for said pair can be used as a credit in the store.
The “used” shoe is then sold in the store at a favorable price; but only shoes in good condition. This means, that I paid around a quarter of the original price, for a pair of shoes that honestly looked like they’d never been worn.
Church’s Ryder III Chukka: Lower Priced Alternatives
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[lasso ref=”boss-suede-desert-boot-link” id=”37691″ link_id=”11851″]
[lasso ref=”magnanni-suede-chukka-boots-link” id=”37699″ link_id=”11853″]
[lasso ref=”tods-suede-desert-boots-link” id=”37695″ link_id=”11852″]
In my opinion, Church’s Ryder III is an excellent gateway into the world of high-end footwear – as it is certainly a costly world to enter. But I must admit, having experienced how big of a difference there is, it will be hard to go back to shoes of lesser quality.
I am a huge advocate for the secondhand market. We often read of how big of an environmental issue the fashion business is. As I see it, classic menswear in general is highly suitable for embracing the opportunities that lie in the secondhand market.
Designs have not changed greatly and is therefore often as contemporary and wearable now, as it was when it was first designed and made. Well-crafted by highly passionate artisans still has a lot to offer and can be passed on and worn instead of being forgotten and attacked by moths in the back your closet.
Thanks for reading.
He Spoke Style