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Of all the boots venturing out into the world this year from R.M.Williams’ Adelaide workshop., the bestselling Craftsman will lead the way, and its distinct chisel toe and iconic tugs will be easy to track. “It’s the most recognisable boot in our stable, and it certainly stands out on the foot,” says R.M.Williams Head of Footwear Development, David Cook.
Originally built to withstand the highs and lows of the outback landscape, the Craftsman has become the ultimate expression of quality, style and versatility. From generations of farmers to suited-and-booted city slickers, celebrities and even global leaders, the universal appeal of heritage and tradition adapts to all manner of conditions.
Every nick, scratch and crease on a Craftsman boot tells a story; symbols of a life well lived. They become part of their owner’s legacy.
There was purposeful design behind the single piece of leather used in their construction, requiring only one seam at the heel. David Cook explains,
“It meant that they wouldn’t rub against the stirrup when you were riding your horse, and it also stopped the water and dust from soaking through, which was of course very important out in the bush.”
Their undeniable character also made them popular among city folk, and so the Craftsman was launched in 1966 to cover all bases. Handcrafted from the finest quality leather, it was an equally robust yet more refined version of the original one-piece of leather design. Durable for work, but also elegant for dress, it was the country boot that went to town.
In fact very little has changed since it hit the streets and stockyards nearly 60 years ago, apart from a slight shortening of the toe in the early 1980s when wider fits were introduced, creating the iconic chisel shape. “At the time, everything was round toe and a little heavier looking, so this subtle wedge tapering to a slender silhouette was more of a step into the style arena; a little bit edgy without scaring off our more conservative customers,” David says.
R.M.Williams is one of few bootmakers in the world to continue the centuries-old tradition of sewn Goodyear welt construction, enabling boots to be fixed if they’ve been worked too hard. This is what allows the brand to offer customers the ‘occasional tune up’ of their boots - the repair and replacement of sole, heel stacks and rubber, elastics and tugs. It’s the premium way to make footwear and also the only way to make it repairable; once you take a stuck-on sole off a conventional boot, there’s no going back.
The leather choices now include exotic NT crocodile, ostrich and ultra-tough kangaroo along with burnished seasonal colours inspired by nature, but they’re still cut and sewn as a single piece to ensure a perfect fit and lasting wear. Master craftsman, Steve Moore, says there are no shortcuts, with each pair finished to exacting standards.
“It would be much easier and quicker to make boots out of several pieces of leather, but here, you don’t make; you craft - it’s all about precision, and we feel a responsibility to keep standards high,”
RM advertised “Quality Goods made for those who are tired of the extravagance of cheap things,” and nothing has changed. Every boot is still made by hand, with each piece of leather passing through 80 sets of them before it’s ready to wear. “Human hands are the best craft tools,” Steve says.