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Behind the Brogue: History

Starting out as an outdoorsy shoe the brogue has earned its place as an all round shoe for almost any occasion. It’s a staple in the Maher Millions collection and we’ve looked back at its history.

16th Century

The humble brogue originated in Scotland and Ireland and its name comes from the Gaelic word bróg (meaning shoe). Intended as a farmers shoe the perforations were there for helping to drain the shoes after working in wet conditions.


English footwear designer John Lobb claimed to have designed an adaption of the brogues in 1868 for the purpose of cricket playing. It was given the name spectator and the perforation and use of mesh meant it was good for ventilation.


Jump forward to the 20s and the shoes were revitalised to be worn by a whole new kind of shoe wearer. With the emergence of machines the shoes designs became more elegant and refined. Popular in America for men and women the shoes in England however were seen as flamboyant. There they were popular with lounge musicians and men associated with adultery so adopted the name co-respondent as they were linked with divorce cases.


The opinion soon changed in the UK with the prince of Wales donning a pair of brogues for golf. Meanwhile in the states style icons adopted the two toned leather designs during the jazz age. Worn by stars such as Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly for dance routines.


Brogues were again thrown into the spotlight on the silver screen in Jailhouse rock. Elvis rocked a pair of black and whites. The style was also adopted by young kids both girls and boys often worn with bobby socks.


Black brogues made there way into dress wear. Shoe designer and creative director of McAffee shoes Oliver Sweeney helped to make these shoes popular.

1990s and Today

The tan brogues emerged as a popular choice in the nineties, worn by ivy leaguers. These days brogues have become a fashion staple.   


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