Many years ago, I bought a pair of amazing ankle boots for $15 from Vinnies. They were Country Road, bone suede, the perfect amount of heel for comfortable, everyday use (i.e. almost none), with a pointed toe. With such a perfect, neutral tone, they went with any outfit and they gave the much-needed optical illusion that my legs were just that little bit longer – and you can’t put a price on that.
Like many good things though, their time recently came to an end. The suede had become quite damaged; many of the seams had burst and they weren’t looking or feeling as they once did. In a way, I feel sad that their original owner gave them away when they still had so many years of life left in them, but that’s the impact of fast fashion for you, isn’t it? I’m glad they got to see out the end of their life with me.
So, I have recently been in the market for a new pair of shoes, and now my #SYWchallenge for April had finished up, I was ready to make a purchase. It was tougher than it sounds. I went back to Country Road and had a look around, but they no longer make that style and I didn’t feel confident about the way they source, produce or treat their leather products. That ruled them out, and I started to research some more ethical brands and options. The chances of finding another pair like this in an op-shop is a million to one. My criteria included:
- Ankle boots
- Good quality – the longer they can last, the better
- Very small to no heel
- Neutral colour
- As ethically produced as possible
I decided I didn’t want suede again as it is too easily ruined and too hard to fix or clean. I considered vegan options, and although as an animal lover these would be the preferred option, the truth is that a lot of the vegan options were not so kind on the environment and many of them looked or felt as though they would not last as long as I want them to last. An honourable mention here goes to the awesome vegan brand Matt & Nat, whose ethos and style were amazing but whose boot options are very limited and didn’t fit the style that I need to wear daily.
Finally, I settled on RM Williams, as I fell in love with their Yearling Adelaide ankle boot, in GOLD. Although I am not super proud of myself for choosing leather (I truly believe that no leather product is truly ethical, for many reasons. Check out Eco Warrior Princess’ thoughts on this, if you want some more info), I feel that I can honour this product by wearing it with love and care and enjoying it for many years (possibly decades) to come. What I learnt about RM Williams, that cemented my decision, was that:
- They are Ethical Clothing Australia accredited and recommended
- They are 100% Australian made, using high-quality craftsmanship (each pair of boots takes five days to make, using a signature 23-step process).
- Their boots are built to last, and the brand is renowned for its strength and longevity
- Each component can be repaired or replaced (a boot can be pulled apart and put back together like a jigsaw puzzle).
- The designs are timeless
The cost is high, but I see these boots as an investment: they will last me a long time and I plan to get a lot of wear out of them. I could buy a cheaper pair, but if they only last one season, then it works out more expensive anyway. And, as it turns out, I saved quite a lot of money doing my #SYWchallenge, so I was able to put this to good use!
Plus, they are GOLD.
We all know I can’t say no to a little sparkle. And this style is brand new: the salesperson told me that there weren’t many pairs that had been sent out to stores yet and the only pair they had in stock were in my size (what are the chances?)! It was serendipitous.
I haven’t had a pair of new shoes in a very long time. Normally, buying secondhand shoes means they are often already broken in and the leather is supple. These are stiff and a little tight and need some lovin. I better wrap this up and hit the streets!
Expect to see these feature a LOT on my Instagram OOTD posts over the coming months.