If you think gumboots belong in two places only – on the farm or on kids’ feet – think again. The humble waterproof shoe has come a long way since its 19th-century beginnings on European battlefields, making its way onto hustling, bustling city streets, as well as the feet of style icons like Kate Moss and Sienna Miller, circa Glastonbury 2005.
It’s a similar story to Crocs. Remember how we all once said we’d never wear them – that the comfort level wasn’t enough to trump their looks? Then normcore happened, and it wasn’t long before they became not just mainstream, but cool. The gumboot has evolved in much the same way. Who doesn’t want to be comfy, dry and stylish all at once? Trust us – once you go gumboot, you never go back.
Self-proclaimed “farm girl” Dani Pearce can attest to this. After a weekend trudging through mud at Meredith Music Festival, she recognised a gap in the gumboot market. Apart from farm- or kids-only boots, nothing much existed between the cheap and cheerful and the uber-expensive ends of the gumboot spectrum. The thought popped back into her head years later, during winter commutes to her desk job in Melbourne’s Docklands.
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“I kept wrecking my work shoes,” she says. “I needed a durable and comfortable pair of boots that could withstand my commute and still be suitable to walk into a corporate office.” And so Merry People was born.
“People need to think of gumboots as they would any boot,” says Pearce. “The style is very similar to lots of other leather boots that are out there, while giving you the practicality of appropriate footwear for winter.”
Merry People boots don’t look like the gumboots of yesteryear. They’re slick and modern – ready to wear not just in the outdoors but to work, to catch up with friends, and anywhere else your adult life takes you.
Take the label’s newest style, the Tully Boot. It marks the first new style from the brand in two years and is a playful nod to the ’90s, with it’s platform-style sole, chunky heel and wraparound neoprene cuff. It also currently comes in four colourways: teal, sunshine and black and the recently released plum. It’s definitely office-appropriate, and it won’t look out of place at the pub either. All Merry People boots are 100 per cent vegan, and the Tully Boot is the first to be made of FSC-certified rubber.
Plus, when you buy a pair of Merry People boots, you’re not just buying shoes, Pearce explains. A lot of the time, she says, “if you’re wearing gumboots, you’re doing something that makes you happy”. And she’s right – we wear them while walking the dog, gardening, watching the footy, and wandering through nature. “Being able to get outside and connect with nature is a happy space and so great for your mental health”.
Merry Boots enable you “to do the things that make you happy, and not have cold, wet feet”. Being able to wear them to the bar is just another win.
This article is produced by Broadsheet in partnership with Merry People. Merry People boots are available online.