Once upon a time riding boots were rarely seen outside regional and rural areas in Australia. The elastic-sided boot was the boot of choice for men and women living and working/riding in the bush and invariably pointed to a good part of life spent in the saddle. A second pair of boots were often used by bush men as a ‘going-out’ pair and were polished to perfection.
bootRelatively low-heeled, usually with a heel of less than one inch, to ensure the boot doesn’t slip through the stirrup, the elastic side boot is commonly used in Australia as both a riding boot and dress boot. They are part of the required attire for many horse competitions and for Pony Club riding but these days you are just as likely to see the polished-up version on a businessman or a prime minister as a farmer.

Riding boots have taken on a life of their own with our elastic side version gaining a place in our national psyche akin to the high-tops or Cowboy boots favoured in the American West. Rugby Union players selected for the Wallabies for example wear R.M. Williams fifty year old classic ‘craftsman’ boots as part of their business ‘off the field’ uniform. And if you ever happen to be near a parade ground take a look at the boots Australian army soldiers are now wearing. There are about 36,000 specially fitted R.M. Williams boots gracing their feet.

Now when I go to Sydney and I spy someone in a pair of elastic-sides I no-longer wonder what part of the bush they come from. They are just as likely to hail from a beachside suburb as the ‘Back of Bourke’. Riding boots have gone mainstream and if you hadn’t noticed it happened quite a few years ago.

While it’s said that 80% of all R.Ms products are Australian made it is a pity that the majority ownership has been with a Singapore equity fund owned by French fashion and champagne conglomeration Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton since 2014.

But hey, it’s all in the name of fashion.