There aren’t too many shoes in Australia with a profile as high as the RM Williams boot. The retailer – which is Australian-owned once more – has been making its durable signature shoe for nearly nine decades, and these days it’s a coveted piece of clothing whether you’re traipsing rugged Australian terrain or the concrete jungle of New York.
The boots take centre stage at the company’s new Melbourne flagship, which opened today at Chadstone. In the middle of the store is the “boot table”, which is as it sounds – a table with the label’s boots on display for shoppers to peruse and try on.
But these aren’t the only shoes available in the moodily lit shop; earlier this year the iconic Aussie brand released a leather sneaker range (with styles named Fitzroy and Surry Hills after the Melbourne and Sydney suburbs), which you’ll find here. There are also racks and display cases featuring the label’s range of men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, including jeans, shorts and jackets.
The store was designed by Melbourne company E2, and project director Julian Marocchini says the Australian outback – things such as rusted, coppery roofs and shearing sheds with timber trusses – was the inspiration. “The Australian outback influenced the palette and materials used throughout the store,” he says, “and the leather from which the iconic boots are made is paid homage throughout in furniture and detailing.”
RM Williams was founded by Reginald Murray (RM) Williams in 1932. Earlier this year mining magnate Andrew “Twiggy” Forrest and his wife Nicola bought the brand from Louis Vuitton-backed American private equity firm L Catterton for an estimated $190 million. The purchase means the iconic Adelaide-based bootmaker is once again owned by an Australian company. Aussie film star Hugh Jackman sold his his five per cent stake for an estimated $10 million but remains a brand ambassador. The business employs around 400 people at its Salisbury workshop in Adelaide and another 500 across the country.
RM Williams store is now open at Chadstone.