My dahlings! As you well know, I’ve expressed my warm feelings towards Hunter rubber boots more than once. Actually, I happen to think rubber boots are excellent footwear when it comes to rain, mud and even snow (if paired with the right socks).
You might argue with the above, especially if you live in the city, but don’t get me started about normal rainy days, countryside (and I’m not talking about horse riding, just normal dogs walks, school runs and small errands)! Fact is, rubber boots were pretty unknown to me until I bought a pair for the eldest boy – he was around 2yo and he had a real hobby from running off – path. Needless to say that at the end of the day he wore a second outfit, made of mud. His feet – dry and warm, though. And all that because he was wearing rubber boots.
Noted. After that, each of our kids received a trusted pair of rubber boots when the walking – age came. Mom and dad ensued. This year, doubling my quest for the perfect pair of city casual boots, I wanted to buy a sturdy, reliable pair of rubber boots also for cold winters’ moist as well as quick errands across city puddles. As such, I normally turned to Hunter. Because, let’s face it, we rarely say ‘wellies’ without implying ‘Hunters’.
‘Wellies’ – come from ‘wellington boots’, a specific type of boots replicating the Hessian 18th century military boot. The wellies, made popular by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington who was a passionate hunter, were initially made of leather. That until Charles Goodyear invented the rubber’s vulcanization some 50 years later and there begun the rubber’s road to wellies success. The ever – busy countryside population was happily returning home after a long hard day’s work with dry feet. Hurray! During the WWI, the British Army fought heavily in boots made by the North British Rubber Company (yep, today’s Hunter Boot Ltd) and by the end of the war, everyone was familiar with the Wellington boots.
You know I love a good history lesson every now and then. For the sake of accuracy. Let’s forward things to present days: in 2006, the Hunter Rubber Company was placed into administration, and then restructured. Although they started making serious profits, in 2008, Hunter relocated its production in Europe and the Far East, also leaving out the vulcanization process in the said move. Serious financial growth ensued but Hunter slowly and steadily lost its original customers and purpose. Hunter boots became fashionable and less reliable.
The Hunter label now reads Made in China and not Made in Scotland anymore and you’re most likely to have your Hunters leak through their first year of wearing. I’ve done my homework, I can assure you of that, and country attire specialists don’t swear on Hunters anymore. Because you can’t count on the original Wellies anymore. (sad, sad face)
What was I to do? Give up the quest for the perfect rubber boots? Nope, that’s so not me! I went deeper into research instead. Naturally turned to Aigle boots. A French rubber boots company just as traditional and long lasting as Hunters. Except they kept it in the family. Also, many of the disappointed Hunter clients became Aigle rubber boots owners. However, the kids had a pair of Aigle boots (each) and not even after a year, the rubber split inexplicably. As gorgeous and as catchy their catalog images may be, I still have doubts regarding Aigle’s boots.
Another brand towards which Hunter wearers flocked is Le Chameau. Equally a French label, just like Aigle, Le Chameau swears on excellent workmanship and advanced technology all designed for the country passionate who likes the nature. And you’re rightfully questioning the ‘traditional Scottish rubber boot company’ (aka Hunter) when the very Kate Middleton, now Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge is wearing Le Chameau (Vierzon) rubber boots (and more than on one occasion)!
Now I’d like to close this piece by asking you what your experiences with rubber boots are. Chances are I wouldn’t have been so thorough in my research if I had to buy a regular pair of rubber boots under $10. But when I intend to spend a lot more, I expect to get a lot more from my purchase. Living up to the Hunter hype may just be a wrong expense. Turning and choose either Aigle or Le Chameau (or any other brand I’d like you to share if you’re familiar with the wearing & tearing experiences) requires proper thinking and evaluating (a pair of Le Chameau Vierzon Lady goes for an almost $200 price tag – and that buys me a lovely pair of Fryers too).
Why they don’t have a testing option in place? Like for cars – test your wellies before buying them? I know, it’s a lot to ask for, but so is trust. A three – figures price tag doesn’t automatically translate in confidence and quality. Although I wish it did, Hunter proved me wrong! Especially when I go by the philosophy: ‘buy less often but more quality’. So please, help a lady in wellies – distress! (all the images come from Hunter, Aigle or LeChameau)