Stylish rubber boots to accompany you in all weathers
Not just for Glasto, virtually every fashion house has its own take on wellies these days.
Ever since Kate Moss chose to negotiate the typical mud and slurry of a British summer music festival 17 years ago, wearing micro shorts and a pair of black wellington boots, they’ve been fashionable .
The boots she wore at Glastonbury thrust traditional British brand Hunter into the fashion spotlight. No longer the preserve of country fairs, farmers and royalty (Hunter held two royal warrants – essentially a seal of approval from the queen), boots became a fashion status symbol. Such is the power and influence of La Moss.
But rubber boots and style icons have a history. When the fashion-favorite carefree rocker chose such practical boots, she was following stylish precedent. They were first brought into fashion by the Duke of Wellington (which is why in the UK they are known as Wellington boots, or rubber boots). Very demanding in his clothing, he had his shoemaker imagine a low-heeled boot that was more fitted to the leg, elegant but resistant.
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During the 1840s, Wellington’s distinctive boots were worn by leagues of men eager to emulate their style idol: the war hero who defeated Napoleon at Waterloo sparked his own fashion.
While the Duke’s boots were made of leather, Wellington boots evolved into rubber boots in 1853 when the French company Aigle bought the patent for making vulcanized rubber shoes and released a similar style.
Rubber boots these days aren’t limited to the high, flat, black style adored by Kate Moss. Virtually every fashion house has its own interpretation.
Bottega Veneta’s Puddle Short Boots have an exaggerated, cartoonish bulbous shape and are available in 14 colors; The House Check Panel rain boots from Burberry have the signature beige tartan reaching to the knees; Gucci’s Horsebit ankle boots are loaded with the signature netting most commonly found on their loafers, and ultra-luxe cashmere brand Loro Piana complements their short rubber and leather boots with chunky, toasty cashmere cuffs (I can already imagine them splattered with mud). And, of course, all of the above comes with matching price tags.
How many would risk buying over $1,000 worth of boots in a muddy field decorated with cow dung, even if it’s rubber? I imagine city dwellers are more likely to opt for decorative options. Annah Stretton’s short boots have rubber arches and would make short work of puddles on the sidewalk. Short, neater boots also make sense around town. The thick Drizlita shorts from Ugg feature a comfortable sheepskin insole.
Melbourne-based brand Merry People, who specialize in colorful footwear for tackling wet weather, have teamed up with designer Karen Walker to create a pair of her best-selling Bobbi boots in a green and yellow color combination. “I’ve always liked a utilitarian, performance color contrasted with a flash of something intense and fun,” says Walker. “In this case, forest green for high performance in muddy puddles with sunshine yellow to help break up clouds.”
For the kids, look no further than local brand Crywolf, who make the softest, lightest rain boots in beautifully subtle colors.
While the fashionization of the rubber boot will no doubt continue, Kate Moss was onto something when she chose the trad tall style. As we saw at Chanel’s winter show where they were paired with chunky tights and tweed miniskirts, rubber boots can work as foil. There’s a lot to love about a traditional design that does the job well, not least because it looks familiar and reassuring.
The leagues of Kiwis have grown up with the classic Red Band boots. Simple and distinctive with its red rims and toes, Skellerup’s first gumboot was made in Christchurch in 1943. These were the boots I was directed to when I arrived in Auckland during a particularly savage winter.
Not fancy but down to earth and seriously sensible, I can now spot them at 100 paces (admittedly not that hard), much like the rubber boots I grew up with that come with a bunch of my own references familiar, including the time a model wore them at Glasto.