Know Your Terms: Chukka

Because dropping the lingo is half the fun of dressing well.
Photo: Leffot

Alden Chukka in Suede from Leffot

Though spring is still but a glimmer in Nature’s eye, we’re all raring to get our ankle-high suede kicks in play. So which ones are “chukkas” and which are “desert boots”? Often used synonymously in modern parlance, these two species of footwear are subtly different. Developed for the British army campaigns in Northern Africa during World War II, the “desert boot” usually has an upper that laces much higher and sits on a crepe sole (a la Clark’s Wallabees). A chukka, on the other hand, is an ankle-high, leather- or rubber-soled boot, with a two- or three-hole lace upper made of calfskin or suede. Originally dubbed Chukkers for their resemblance to Polo boots (Chukker is a period of play in a Polo match), the word chukka comes from the Hindi chakka, ultimately derived from the Sanskrit cakra, meaning ‘wheel.’

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  1. Doug says:

    Just a thought, but this (along with your other “compare/contrast” and “Know your terms” posts) would really benefit from pictures that illustrate the difference.

  2. nick says:

    Yeah this is completely worthless without pics

  3. Noah says:

    Great topic. I find myslef explaining this to my cutomers all the time. Also, correct me if I’m wrong, but traditionally a desert boot’s ankle is not reinforced where as a Chukka’s are. J Crew Macalister Boot = Desert Boot. Alden 1492/1494 = Chukka.
    PS… check out my shop’s blog guys:

  4. Agyesh says:

    The boot’s name is derived from the reference for the period of play in a Polo game i.e. Chukker and not the hindi word chakka. (as implied in post above)
    (The reference name for the period of play in Polo however does originate from the Hindi word “chakka”)
    Two very different things, no?

    Also, I believe Hindi is the language while Hindu is a religion. Lastly the work “chakka” originated from the Sanskrit word “chakra” and not “cakra”.

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