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In the past five years wellies have made the transition from utility item to desirable fashion accessory.
Gone are the days when the boots were only used for herding animals on a mucky farm. They are now part of many city slickers’ wardrobes, and come in colours and styles that match their owners’ handbags.
Hunter, the old-school boot maker and choice of the country set, now makes boots in pink, purple, turquoise and gold, and has teamed up with designer Jimmy Choo to create wellies worthy of celebrities and fashionista’s up and down the land.
Retailers say that Britain’s festival culture is behind the rise in popularity of gumboots. Hannah Irons, Website Administrator at Wellieboots.com, believes Glastonbury 2005 was a turning point.
She told WNOL: “People saw pictures of Kate Moss looking glamorous in a pair of wellies and hotpants and decided that they could be cool.”
Only for women
However, if British women were inspired by Kate Moss, it seems that men have been influenced by her then-boyfriend Pete Doherty –who was pictured with Moss at the festival wading through muck in his loafers.
Sales of the new generation of trendy wellies have taken off with one sex only. A spokesperson for Funky Wellington Boots said that ninety percent of their customers are female and some companies, such as WedgeWelly, only make boots for women.
Neil Bawdon, Managing Director of boot retailer Jileon, says that most of the new designs are too loud, colourful and feminine to be worn by men.
And Hannah Irons believes that the failure to interest men in buying gumboots is a result of the fashion industry, “which is always geared more towards women than men”.
Certainly, many men still need convincing that boots can be worn in the city.