OUR ORIGINALS HAVE HIT THIRTY.
Three decades of serving up the most authentic, rock‘n’roll inspired shoes to voracious Subcultures. Three decades of the rebellious, British style uniquely donned by the length and breadth of the globe, from Manchester to London, Paris to Tokyo, Berlin to Beijing. Three decades of Underground’s Wulfrun, Barfly and Apollo Creepers , Steel Cap Commando Boots and Winklepicker Blitz Boots.
1987, and already an iconic purveyor of the commodities of Casual cool within the city- Underground had grown the same expanse as Manchester in the six years we had been open. Rewind to 1981 and the city was bleak and depressed from industrial post war decline. Sulking in the aftermath of the febrile Punk scene and questioning the future of Post Punk having just lost Ian Curtis, the scene was dazed and confused. Nightclub dance floors were uniquely populated with Football Casuals mingling with everybody from Goths to Glams, Punks to Post-Punks, Northern Soul to New Romantics. All contently co-existing for the greater love of Bowie or Bryan. Here, they found solstice to experiment and cross-pollinate- a breeding ground for underground culture like no other. This was the zeitgeist Underground first channelled in 1981- and like Pips dance floor- the sportswear of the Casuals that lined our shelves were soon joined by the Creepers of the Post Punks, Steel Caps of the Goths and the Winkle pickers of the New Romantics.
At the time it just seemed obvious, harmonious. On one hand you have a community of fearlessly non-conformist individuals misunderstood by society. On the other, a selection of fearlessly unique shoe and boots, additionally overlooked and underappreciated. The common thread that strung us all together was the defiant spirit we all manifested from our indifference to the ‘norm’. Knowing our own humble beginnings, we had finally found a family in these rebels and mavericks.
Over the first six years, we invested vitality back into the shoes, trialling the boundaries of silhouettes and materials. Steel Cap Boots- once the functional footwear of the working man- were updated with new leathers, shrapnel and soles that caught the attention of burly Bikers, the original Metalheads and Grunge slobs in their infancy. The Winkle picker- with its sharp toe that defined the angular, guitar-driven, glittered-spattered androgynous heroes from that fell to earth- caught the heart of every Glam Rocker and New Romantic around.
And of course the Underground Originals are probably best known for a style that had been largely forgotten and humoured by many- yet relied upon so profoundly by few- the Creeper. We saw it to be the absolute symbol of subversion, of non-conformity, of rebellion, one that cements and transcends Subcultures all over. It had fallen out of favour, forgotten and uncared for. A fusion of imagination, commitment, and variation on sole height was all it took for Underground to reedit the entire history of this renegade shoe and ensure it remained relevant for the future.
Thirty years ago, we captured the essence of this Subcultural alchemy and presented our curated collection of Originals. Driven to become the archetypes of Subcultural uniform, they swiftly became the mainstay of any wardrobe that seeks for meaning, subverted style and resistance. Beyond the desire for keepsakes of defiant British rebellion, the need for such wardrobe was a commodity sought after the world over. Now that Underground had found it’s feet- the Originals was created for the ever-shrinking globe in mind. They became the commonality between the Punks in Harajuku to the Punks in Hull; the Goths in Milan to the Goths in Macclesfield; even the Rockabillies in Taipei and those in Leeds. Always consistent, forever evolving, the Originals are shoes that the unruly wear when they do what they do and do what they love.
Here are what some of our Original’s fans have to say about their favourite shoes:
‘These shoes are made for walking. My creepers are the ultimate conversation starter. It’s amazing how many people I’ve met and talked to who love these shoes from New York to Northampton they are guaranteed to get you attention. They are shoes with style and rock n roll history. They are for Punks, Rockers and individualists. These shoes are made for dancing, carousing, for beautiful gadflys and giddy aunts. No poseurs or pricks allowed.’
BILLY F. GIBBONS OF ZZ TOP
‘Underground does again…and again…! Pointy-toe Apollo, buckle-over in black suede cain’t be beat…! Single sole, double sole, any sole… them stomps gotta lotta soul. And, for the shoe-series stalwarts in the midst of us all, let’s take a moment to sift through the remarkable lineup of stylin’ styles that make any and everyone smile for miles. Wear up…! And…get down to pound the pavement in fine fashion. Underground be IT…!’
‘The thing that made me fall in love with underground apart from the brand just being cool as fuck was noticing that the clothes carry a message and stand for something that i think is so relevant to young people today. The right to express yourself and not give a shit about what is normal. That to me is where true heart of rock n roll lies. As a kid I was always obsessed with teddy boy fashion and when I found a brand that made proper no bullshit creepers I lost my mind!’
‘When I first saw the Apollo model, I fell in love with it from the first sight. UNDERGROUND is my number one footwear brand forever! I wear UNDERGROUD for almost 4 years, and they are good for summer, winter, spring and autumn! I feel very comfortable in any type of weather in them! This brand has a real history and it goes from reality of 80’s to the modern times, and I am happy to be the one who supports the freedom of style nowadays and the beauty of subcultures in 80’s ! Forever inspirational and forever the best, I love you, UNDERGROUND !’
‘Underground is one of our favourite brands, the creeper in particular being our go to shoe. We love their punky colourful spirit and designs. We feel badass wearing them on stage!’
“I grew up in a small village on the western edge of the Peak District and by the time I was fourteen, I was spending every weekend with my friends/ collective of regional misfits in Manchester’s city center- predominantly in the northern quarter.
I must have been fifteen when I first saw pair of creepers in Ryan’s (a now defunct second-hand superstore) and had a compulsion to own a pair. Before that moment I had only ever seen them in music videos or online. I vividly remember my best friend scoffing at them and telling me how hideous they were and how she wouldn’t be seen with me in public if I bought a pair.
The only place you could buy creepers in Manchester at the time was Rockers- a small rockabilly boutique on Oldham Street. I saved up and just after my sixteenth birthday bought my first pair of creepers. I bought the single sole wulfrun in black suede. I have quite narrow feet and foolishly decided to take a pair two sizes too small and completely crushed my toes when breaking that first pair in. I loved the shoes and religiously wore them every day for at least three years.
You can imagine what state they’re in now.
By the time I was started my art foundation after college I was wearing the double soled classics in stiff black shiny leather. My hair was optic white and everything I wore was ludicrously tight and black, so the elderly population of my village must of thought I looked ridiculous in my massive shoes.
I still have a strong affinity for creepers and underground. I think the shoes are classic and want to start wearing them again- I think I would benefit from the extra inch of height.’