I recently had a customer ask me to compare my brand’s chelsea boots to RM Williams and asking what separates the two being that they are both $495 and wholecut patterns? And I had to really think about this as RM Williams makes a great boot for sure. And it made me ponder deep into my previous train of thought where I used to actually dislike chelsea boots. And that was around the time that I was handling a lot of RM William ones as I was shining shoes at Gieves & Hawkes and many customers brought those in. So I started to ask myself as well, ‘what really separates us?’ Because in terms of quality or construction is there is not much to say either way. Both are well made, welted, wholecut chelsea boots. And both are $495.
RM Williams, the two above
So what finally hit me on the head was the idea of the chelsea boot itself and how it is perceived in the minds of the wearer. Is it a smart boot? Or a rugged, casual boot? Thats the actual question.
Gaziano & Girling on the DG70 last
It made me realize that I never liked chelsea boots because prior to seeing one on the DG70 last by G&G, I never really found one that suited my aesthetic criteria for elegance. Back then you tended to only find the extremes i.e. a Jeffrey West type that was overly elongated and looked like you are wearing Ski’s or the rugged RM Williams type that looks like you have to be a rugby player to wear one. Or a bad ass Aussie from the Outback. Of which neither appealed to me. It was very rare to find one that was narrow in the waist, elegantly cut without being overly elongated. And I realized once making mine that this is the only way I liked them. The rugged ones dont appeal to me at all. Mainly because, quite frankly I am not rugged by any means. And I like to dress with slim cut clothes which contradicts that look.
RM William boots above
J.FitzPatrick boots, below and this one above
So after lots of thought, I explained just that. Quality aside, these two boots are made with different ideas on how to execute their look. Our boot, like G&G, is a dressy chelsea boot. Its not to say that you cant wear it with jeans. But its sleek. Its meant to be elegant, not rugged. Its meant to be able to transition from smart to casual all in a day’s wear. It’s hard wearing but not meant for wearing overly hard. RM Williams’ classic boot is Rugged. Its hard wearing and meant to be worn hard. You can wear it in the desert. It is supposed to get beat up. Polishing it is just an option. Maybe their customer prefers it more beat up looking? So that was my answer, leaving it for him to decide. And well, I didnt make the sale, but by telling the truth at least he seemed to get what he wanted. RM, my commission please 😉 (J/K)
That being, how do you like your chelseas? Elegant or Rugged?
Links to grab boots in post: