Kirstie Clements: Believe it or not, gumboot chic is on the rise


I’m a fan of functional shoes. I like a sneaker, an espadrille, a ballet flat or a flat sandal.

But one style of footwear I can hand over heart say I have never worn is the gumboot, otherwise known as the Wellington.

Big, moulded rubber rain boots have been a huge trend for the last couple of seasons, seen at brands such as Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Jimmy Choo and Chloe, with prices nudging $1000 and over.

I noticed they had become a high fashion thing before the first lockdown, but I mentally said, “Pass, thanks”, and never gave it another thought.

But over Christmas, I spent some time in the country with friends and the weather was bad.

“I’m going for a walk over yonder to the dam,” I announced to my host, who quickly advised me to put on some gumboots, several pairs of which were lined up at the back door.

“There’s a lot of snakes around in the wet grass,” he said.

So there were two things in one sentence that alarmed me, snakes and the idea of putting on a gumboot.

What socks do you wear? Don’t your feet get sweaty in all that rubber?

And what is considered the ne plus ultra of gumboots?

I had a vague memory of seeing some very chic Hunter gumboots in a store in Milan, so I figured they must rate on wet days by Lake Como.

But what about here in Oz?  I have always been a city person, not a country one, and I don’t even have a garden so gumboots have never been a must-have.

I needed guidance, clues, reassurance, comparisons.

“There are many gumboot brands Aussies have been wearing to date, mostly international brands, Including Hunter, Le Chameau, Isle Jacobsen, Muck Boots, and Aigle,” says Danielle Holloway, founder and CEO of the Australian brand Merry People.

Merry People has created a really fabulous range of ankle length rain boots in lovely colour combinations in soft, natural rubber.

Gumboots, but make them fashionable. Photo: Merry People

“Many working Australians just wear plain, tall rubber boots from their local hardware store,” Ms Holloway says.

“Our customers are both country and city folk, who love the outdoors, and appreciate quality and practicality, but also want to look and feel great as they go about their day”.

I would never have considered that a gumboot was the answer to this style conundrum, but Holloway now has me completely convinced that this was one item my urban wardrobe lacked.

Gumboot chic is on the rise – Merry People now has a team of seven based in Collingwood, Melbourne, with third party warehouses in Australia, the USA and the UK.

“I wanted to create a quality, everyday boot that could be worn as a winter staple year-on-year and would pair with most items in your wardrobe, not just be that cumbersome pair of boots you only pull out a couple of times a year,” says Holloway.

The boots are 100 per cent waterproof and have been tested to be worn in a sub-zero climate.

“I personally think they are the most practical item of footwear to be worn in winter, and I am just trying to do them in a fun way that fits in with the everyday person’s life, like walking the dog, watching sideline sport on a wet footy oval, or walking to work through the rain.”

And navigating snakes in wet grass.

We’ve Already Come Too Far To End This Now.

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