Elvis Presley is not only remembered for his musical style but for his fashion, ranging from iconic ’50s looks to the more glitzy styles of the ’70s. But if there’s one fashion item Elvis is best linked to — it’s a pair of blue suede shoes made famous from his 1956 song by the same name.
Presley released the rockabilly hit as a tribute to friend Carl Perkins, who originally wrote and recorded the song in 1955. Ironically, Perkins’ version was the one that hit No. 1 on the pop charts, but Presley’s is the one most remembered today. Nevertheless, the idea was turned into a reality as the shoes were later made into an actual pair for Elvis in the form of a cap-toe lace-up style.
The shoes featured black soles and a dark blue suede upper and blue laces.
While Elvis wore them for several years in the late 1950s (memorably during a performance on the Steve Allen Show in 1956), he eventually gifted them to his co-best man and road manager Joe Esposito upon the entertainer’s return home from the military in 1960.
It was around this time when Elvis met former wife Priscilla Presley in 1959 when she was just 14 years old. He was serving in the army overseas in Germany. In 1963, Priscilla moved to be with Elvis in the U.S. and the two settled into Elvis’ Graceland home. They eventually tied the knot in Las Vegas on May 1, 1967. On Feb. 1, 1968, Elvis and Priscilla Presley welcome their first and only child, Lisa Marie Presley. The famous couple were married for six years before divorcing four years before Elvis’ untimely death.
In the 1990s, the shoes were on display at the former Elvis-A-Rama museum in Las Vegas. They were later bought at an auction in 2013 for $75,000. According to the shoe’s certificate of authenticity, Presley wore a size 10 and his blue suede style was the only known pair in existence.
Throughout the years, many footwear companies celebrated Presley’s fashion influence as well as his iconic blue suede shoes. In 2010, Hush Puppies created a limited-edition line of blue suede laceups with legendary Memphis retailer Lansky Bros., whose founder, Bernard Lansky, personally dressed Presley throughout his career.
“Customers have always asked for the blue suede shoes,” Julie Lansky told FN at the time of release, noting that because many pieces in the accompanying apparel line harked back to Presley’s heyday in the 1950s, a companion black-and-white slip-on and lace-up in smooth leather was also made be available.
In 2015, Authentic Brands Group teamed up with American Rebel Boot Co. on a line of blue suede women’s Western boots. The line integrated a blue suede material, as well as classic Western-inspired detailing, such as studs and fringe. Brittany Allen, lead designer for American Rebel Boot Co., said, “Elvis’ unique fashion sense inspired many of the design elements, [which include] on-trend silhouettes complemented with details that reflect his personal style.”
While there are many iterations out in the world, it will be nearly impossible for anyone to ever fill Presley’s shoes — blue suede or otherwise. Presley died on Aug. 16, 1977.
Most recently, Elvis’ story has been retold by Warner Bros. Pictures and Oscar-nominated filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. The “Elvis” film explores the life and music of rock legend — from his rise to fame and stardom to his last performance — starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks.