By Clarissa Cruz
June 29, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT

Once best known for protecting the tootsies of the feathered-hair contingent in the late ’70s, Frye boots are gaining a new generation of fans. The chunky, well-crafted footwear — which debuted in 1863 and were designed mainly for military use (generals Grant and Lee wore ’em) — are now the shoes of choice for celebrities tired of teetering on stilettos. Jennifer Aniston requested two pairs (one to keep on the Friends set and one to take home), and Meg Ryan, Madonna, Britney Spears, and Justin Timberlake are also fans. ”It’s genuine, it’s authentic, it’s the real thing,” says Frye Co. president Jim McCormick, who adds that sales are up 65 percent from last year. ”They’re the Cadillac of boots, and it’s tough to wear them out.” Which is especially helpful when dodging paparazzi.