At Pick Up, we have our own BBC Creeper shoes that we've been selling since the 90's. Creeps are coveted in many subculture scenes, from punks to goths, teds, rockabillys and mods. But where do they actually come from?
Creepers are the first full rubber sole shoes and were worn by English soldiers in North Africa, inspired by Egyptian military boots. The shoes protected the feet from sand, insects and the heat and were light and quiet - hence the name Creeper. When soldiers returned to England, they continued to wear the new, comfortable shoes, and so they became popular in London's entertainment districts. They were so common in anti-loneliness establishments that the name Brothel Creepers came about.
The established shoemaker George Hamilton Cox took notice of the shoes and recognized their cult potential, changed the design in a modern way and designed the Hamiliton, 'Ham' Creeper, in the late 40s. The Ham was designed with a ribbed crepe sole, suede, braided pattern or contrasting inserts, just as we know classic creepers to this day. With an average height of 3 to 5 cm, the sole has a slight plateau look, which later became a high plateau with a double or triple sole. Whether with shoelaces, which are usually threaded through D-ring eyelets, or various buckles, pointed or round, there were and are countless designs.
The song 'Blue Suede Shoes' by Carl Perkins was dedicated to the new shoes and the Elvis cover made them popular across the scene. Buddy Holly also complemented his unmistakable look with creeps and thus influenced the style of youth.
The Teddy Boys (Teds) wore their outfits of skinny jeans, jackets, ties and quiffs with pomade with creepers and thus contrasted the prudish bourgeoisie with rock 'n' roll.
The first major youth protest movement was the Teds, followed by Rockabillys, Psychobillys, Poppers, New Wavers, Gothics and Punks, all wearing Creepers!
They finally arrived in the subersive mainstream when Malcolm McLaren, the then partner of fashion and punk icon Vivienne Westwood, sold the Ham Creeper in his cult shop 'Let it Rock' in the 70s. Vivienne Westwood shaped the style of the punks like hardly anyone at the time and so Creeper as well as Dr. Martens the shoes of the hour.
Around the same time, Henry Hoppe opened his first BBC store on Ratinger Strasse in Düsseldorf and was the first to equip the Düsseldorf scene with Dr. Martens, striped jeans, studded belts, Creeper shoes and thus shaped the look of the subculture. The Pick Up followed in 1978, where we still offer the same brands and statement pieces as in the 80s - never change a winning team, just add something new to it. Since the quality of the Creeper suffered at times in the 90s due to the new production in Asia, Henry Hoppe looked for an alternative and found what he was looking for at a small manufacturer in Portugal. Since then, our Creepers have been handcrafted there, are called BBCs in homage to the first store, are available with and without platforms and in various leathers and colors. Chris is also involved in the designs, so the new generation Pick Up stays true to the store's origins, bringing passion and individuality together with a love for quality.
Today you see many sneakers that have a similar sole or shape and are clearly inspired by the first creepers. Rihanna's Puma collection is a well-known example of how the classic can be adapted for hip hop street style.
Creepers have thus also become a household name for the generation whose grandparents wore the first versions of the cult shoe. Creeper show how fluidly the different scenes, music and fashion are connected, how they influence and develop each other.