Trend for rubber boots is growing stronger than ever, even as an alternative to party shoes

Could Charlie Dimmock become 2021’s most unpredictable style icon? The Ground Force star, who is a fashion icon for the wellington boot, is set to once more enjoy pin-up status.

The Row, Valentino, and JW Anderson, fashion week heavyweights, have made the rubber boot this season’s most sought-after footwear. Prices range from PS296 to PS1,120 while high-street brands Arket, Asos, and Birkenstock are jumping in at prices starting at PS20.

The trend has been growing since early this year. According to Cassie Smart (head of womenswear at Matchesfashion), the retailer has increased its order for rubber rainboots by 130%. She says, “Our customer has been very responsive to our shift towards high-low dressing. They are now investing in styles that look great outdoors and work well.”

black leather boots on brown dirt

Balenciaga is a brand known for its ugly trainers, anoraks, and blue Ikea Frakta bags. The company has now teamed up with Crocs to produce the rubber “Crociaga”, a boot that costs PS495. Bottega Veneta is the brand behind the iconic pillow-style handbags that have been everywhere over the past two years. Now, they are leading the way with new ankle styles made of glittery, slime-green rubber.

“Bottega Veneta can transform something that seems so ordinary, utilitarian, and frankly quite unattractive, into something that is utterly desirable,” Laura Hawkins, Wallpaper fashion features editor, says. She bought a pair of Puddle boots from the brand, but admits that her “barometer of bad taste immediately spun out” when she saw them.

“What [they] did that felt strikingly different, was propose the style not only for day but also for evenings, paired with shimmering, glittering sequin dresses.”

Carolyn Mair, author of The Psychology of Fashion, praises rubber boots as a comfortable alternative to high-heeled party footwear. She also says that they make one feel more free than traditional shoes.

Mair says they are a sustainable buy because they can be worn every day in any context. However, questions remain about the sustainability of this trend.

Ganni, Bottega Veneta and Jimmy Choo have made biodegradable products. However, there is concern about fast fashion brands making rubber boots from toxic materials, which are more likely to be disposed of in landfills.

Cassandra Dittmer, a sustainable wardrobe stylist, says the problem is that “businesses are churning new products at an insanely fast pace that nobody needs at low prices [that] makes the customer feel like the product is disposable.”

She recommends buying classic rubber boots like Hunter’s to “tap the trend in an economical way”, and also trying out before you buy. There are many rental companies that let us road test new trends before we commit to buying.

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