Could Charlie Dimmock be 2021’s most unpredictable style icon? If fashion’s current obsession for the humble wellington boot is anything to go by, the Ground Force star is once again set to enjoy pin-up status.
Fashion week heavyweights The Row, Valentino and JW Anderson have transformed the rubber boot into this season’s must-have footwear with prices ranging from £296 to £1,120, while on the high street, Arket, Asos and Birkenstock have jumped in with prices starting at £20.
With momentum building since early this year, the trend is going from strength to strength, says the head of womenswear at Matchesfashion, Cassie Smart, who has increased the retailer’s order for rubber rain boots by 130% this autumn. “Our customer has responded well to this shift towards high-low dressing, investing in styles that look great and function well when spending more time outdoors,” she says.
Balenciaga, the brand famous for making ugly trainers, anoraks and the blue Ikea Frakta bag recent must-haves, has continued its collaboration with Crocs to create the rubber “Crociaga” boot that will set you back £495. Meanwhile, Bottega Veneta, the brand responsible for the pillow-style handbags you’ve seen everywhere for the last two years, is leading the trend with ankle styles made from glittery and slime-green rubber.
“Bottega Veneta has the power to transform something that seems so mundane, utilitarian and frankly fairly unattractive in shape into something utterly desirable,” says the fashion features editor of Wallpaper*, Laura Hawkins, who invested in a pair of the brand’s Puddle boots, admitting that her “barometer for bad taste immediately spun out of control” when she first laid eyes on them.
“What [they] did that felt strikingly new, is propose the style not just for day, but for evenings paired with shimmering, sequin dresses.”
Carolyn Mair, the author of The Psychology of Fashion, also hails them as a comforting alternative to high-heeled party shoes, adding that “psychologically, rubber boots make us feel free to do what we like, reminding us of carefree times like childhood when we could let ourselves go and jump in puddles”.
While Mair suggests they are also a sustainable purchase “as they can be worn all day, every day, in any context,” questions around the sustainability of the trend remain.
Although brands including Bottega Veneta, Ganni and Jimmy Choo are making biodegradable options, the danger of fast-fashion brands producing rubber boots made from toxic materials that are more likely to end up disposed of on landfill, is a cause for concern.
The sustainable wardrobe stylist Cassandra Dittmer says that, as ever, the issue is “businesses churning out new products at a crazy fast pace that no one needs at low prices [that] make the customer feel that the product is disposable” .
When it comes to rubber boots, she advocates buying a classic pair like Hunter’s “so you can tap the trend in an affordable way”, as well as trying before we buy. “There are so many great rental companies that allow us to road test trends in real life before committing to a purchase.”