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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 15th April 2016 > BOOT CHAMP


Viennese shoemaker Ludwig Reiter has stayed true to its traditional craft methods for more than 130 years


I RARELY WATCH Quentin Tarantino movies, but I am inclined to give Inglourious Basterds a viewing. The film features the work of two talented Austrians: the always excellent actor Christoph Waltz, who plays a cunning and sadistic Nazi officer, and the shoemaker Ludwig Reiter, who supplied the boots worn by Brad Pitt’s character, U.S. Army Lieutenant Aldo Raine.

The footwear in question is the Husaren, a high-calf boot with laces at the instep and a curious double strap that can be fastened with one hand. It is such a stylized and cinematic piece of kit that I thought it had been made especially for the film. I was delighted to learn otherwise: During the Austro-Hungarian Empire, the Imperial Army favored this boot (named after the Hungarian cavalry, known as husaren). The strap was added at the start of the 20th century, when winter sports became increasingly popular; this boot was used by skiers, and the double strap had been conceived to allow the wearer to adjust it one-handed for convenience.

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