Some boots are made for walking. Some others are made for working. The latest release from Aussie bootmakers par excellence R.M. Williams, the Yard Boot 365, lets you do both. See? Functional and fashionable.
Made in collaboration with Australian industrial designer Marc Newson (who until very recently was a key designer at tech giant Apple), the limited edition Yard Boot 365 is the first release in a series of rollouts for the iconic footwear brand, under the banner of their Undeniable Character campaign that will see R.M.Williams partner with various craftspeople and brands from around the world.
Available in six colours and three types of leather, the story of the Yard Boot 365 actually begins in 1959.
A bit of history
Delving into the archives at R.M. HQ, Newson was inspired by an original boot first made in the 1950s called the Gardener Yard Boot.
"What [Marc] loved about this was this was a very functional and utilitarian boot, and the catalogue at the described them as 'boots to work in'," says Matthew Hayward, Chief Marketing Officer at R.M. Williams.
"It became very clearly that these Gardener Yard Boots were designed to be worn in mud, water and sand working in long grass, orchards, dairies, and sandy conditions. It was a tough boot. So Marc asked 'what is the potential use of these seen through a slightly more contemporary lens?'"
The result is a modern day work boot for the modern day worker – whether your work is the hard wearing needs of farmers or the style requirements of inner city fans of functional footwear.
A new chapter
The Yard Boot marks a turning point for the iconic brand, beloved by urbanites and rural folks alike. It comes at a time when the company has more than doubled their production numbers as consumers turn their backs on fast fashion chains in favour of authenticity.
It's the first time the brand has officially collaborated with a designer. According to Hayward, the decision to work with Hewson was simply a matter of being kindred spirits: "R.M. is a 90-year-old business so anyone we worked with had to have a very specific intent and purpose.
"Obviously, for your first brand collaboration you're really hanging your hat on certain reputations on both sides. We're an iconic Australian business and Marc is one of the pre-eminent industrial designers in the world but he's also a wonderful Australian…and, like our current campaign, an undeniable character."
The more things change...
Handmade in their Adelaide-based workshops using a single piece of leather for the upper, the Yard Boot clearly shares plenty of the same DNA as their more traditional creations such as the Craftsman and the original Gardener.
It's clearly an R.M., so to speak, right down to the signature tug on the heel (that piece of fabric that bears the R.M. branding and helps you pull them on). So there's still plenty for the purists to be happy about in this new design.
But Newson's fingerprint is clearly apparent. Taking his cues from the single piece of leather used for the upper that gives the core boot it's streamlined silhouette, Newson designed matching single-piece rubber outersoles and elastic ankle pieces to create a boot that is minimalist in structure.
"These boots were two-and-half, almost three, years in the making," explains Hayward.
"And that in itself belies the complexity of such a visually simplistic boot. Using only three key components design-wise – the sole, one piece of leather top or boot itself and the engineered elastic… Marc showcased how these three very simply but complex features can be changed in both colour and materialisation to create totally different aesthetics."
The boot's versatility is pretty much a giveaway in the name – designed to be worn 365 days of the year and across an array of terrains, be it sand or cement.
While the brand may have its origins in Australia's hard yakka history, there's no doubt the company sees no small part of its financial future on the feet of the city dwelling.