AP PHOTOS: Russians keep alive winter boots tradition

MOSCOW (AP) — As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering an old winter staple — felt boots called valenki.

Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country.

Dating back to the times of nomads in the windy steppes of southern Russia, valenki didn't become widespread until the 19th century, when they started being produced on an industrial scale. They were quickly adopted by all classes and everyone wore wearing valenki — from the czar to the peasant in the most remote village.

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Russians keep alive winter boots tradition
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Russians keep alive winter boots tradition
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a pair of valenki, boots on rollers, traditional Russian footwear, are displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, women wear designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, ahead of a fashion show in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, traditional Russian winter boots valenki dating back to the mid-20th century are displayed at an exhibition in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, women wear designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, ahead of a fashion show in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, dolls dressed in valenki, traditional Russian footwear, are displayed next to a photo of Red Army soldiers during WWII in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a pair of designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, are displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a pair of valenki, traditional Russian footwear, with a symbol of the ruling United Russia party are displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a visitor takes photos of designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a machine dating back to the late 19th-early 20th century used to produced traditional winter boots valenki is on display in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, Alexander Pilin, Russian creator of cutting-edge felt fashion, who has been innovating within the field of felt for more than 20 years speaks to the Associated Press during a felt boots exhibition in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a pair of designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, are displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, two pairs of designe valenki, traditional Russian footwear, are displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a pair of designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, are displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a visitor looks at designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a visitor takes a photo of old and designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
In this photo taken on Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, a pair of designer valenki, traditional Russian footwear, are displayed in Moscow, Russia. As freezing temperatures are setting in, Russians are rediscovering the old winter staple: traditional felt boots called valenki. Valenki are traditional winter footwear in Russia, prized for their ability to endure frosty conditions and a dry winter, which is typical for most of the country. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)
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The felt boots, however, went out of fashion in the 1950s, when Russians got wider access to warm, Western-style footwear.

These days, Russians still wear valenki on trips in the countryside, and one can spot a pair of "designer valenki" on a cold day in Moscow. The Russian military and law enforcement personnel still get them as part of their standard gear.

A recent exhibition in the Russian capital displayed historical footwear, like the valenki worn by Marshal Georgy Zhukov as he led Soviet forces throughout World War II, as well as the boots as cutting-edge fashion items.

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