Rain boots are definitely an essential accessory in everyone’s shoe rack when the seasons arrive, such as autumn and winter, where we have to face gray and rainy days.
This type of footwear has a very original history that has led this boot to take different paths depending on the needs of people trying to become an accessory that knows how to be elegant and sophisticated but, at the same time, also practical, functional and comfortable.
Two names, two different stories but same product
To be more precise, rain boots could be called both “galoshes” and “wellingtons.”
But why these 2 names?
Let’s start with galoshes
The term denotes a waterproof rubber garment that is worn over the shoe to better defend against cold and wet weather caused by low temperatures and rain.
Their birth dates back to around the early 1900s although there are records of similar shoe coverings as early as the time of Republican Rome under the name “gallicae.”
During the 20th century this particular but very useful accessory was made of materials that were resistant to rain and mud and was overlaid on the shoe uppers to protect the feet.
These galoshes were particularly used by the farmers of the Venetian plain, with the addition of wooden soles and leather uppers, and to prevent the sole from wearing out, they were studded.
Over time, galoshes have evolved in style and especially in the materials used. Charles Goodyear, a prominent U.S. inventor, had patented the vulcanization of rubber, which is a process by which rubber is chemically bonded to sulfur to make an elastic material. This method is still used today mainly for tire production, but when it was also applied to footwear, it completely revolutionized the world of footwear because it enabled the spread of rubber boots that were very water-resistant, much lighter and also less bulky.
Initially, galoshes had a shape that adhered perfectly to the shoe, but as they became more and more successful and widespread, even higher models were made that completely enveloped the leg up to the knee. It is from this latest development that they gradually began to be replaced by actual rubber boots that reach up to the knee or stop at the ankle.
Rain galoshes, even today, are an essential garment especially in autumn and winter to cope with rain and snow, keeping feet warm and safe.
Wellington Rain Boots
This type of boot was made exclusively of leather, repurposing the classic Hessian boots that were popular in 18th-century Europe among noblemen who rode horses.
Their history starts in the early 1800s when the Duke of Wellington, famous for defeating Napoleon at Waterloo, began wearing them.
Unlike the Hessians, the design of the “wellies” eliminated the front tassel, raised the back edge, and remained narrower around the calf. All these precise changes were specially requested by the duke from his shoemaker and allowed them to spread rapidly among aristocrats due to his fame after Waterloo and the war hero appeal he managed to bestow on them.
From the mid-19th century these boots were replaced by calfskin with the aforementioned vulcanized rubber, and the Hunter Boot of Edinburgh was the first company to take this new line and develop it.
Even during World War I, wellies were the main boots sent to troops in the trenches so that they became in effect a popular footwear among women and men.
The classic green color that still characterizes them today, however, we have them since the mid-1900s when their production increased dramatically, becoming a widely used footwear during the colder and rainier seasons of the year.
These boots, even today, besides being used for everyday wear, are also used in various industries. Reinforced toes are added for heavy industry. For example, in mining they are used to protect against mud or in horticulture and agriculture to protect against the weather in general.
Of course, they are used in many other occupations, but the ones that are most popular are the fashion-related Wellingtons.
Fashion has no boundaries
For a long time this type of boot was seen by many as unfashionable.
Although everyone has their own tastes and likes to dress as they see fit, in England, on the other hand, Wellingtons have always been very popular both because they originated there and because they also turn out to be very useful since it is one of the rainiest countries.
Their fame, in addition to their usefulness, has also been further enhanced by photo shoots where important figures such as Princess Diana with Charles are seen wearing them while walking in the countryside. Similar outfits with the same footwear have also been replicated by William and Kate and the now late Queen Elizabeth, increasing the popularity of the boots precisely because they are worn by members of the royal family.
For the past few years, however, big names in the fashion world have also taken them up, revisited them and brought them to their catwalks, making them a unique and much-appreciated garment.
Vivienne Westwood, for example, proposes them completely black and below the knee, Prada, on the other hand, finds a marriage between the boot and the beloved pastel colors typical of the 1960s.
All this shows us how influential and popular figures can change their views on an item of clothing that was initially seen as unfashionable and only useful against the rain.
A brand that brings up the reputation of Wellingtons
In addition to the big fashion brands that have succeeded in making this specific type of footwear appreciated again, it is also good to emphasize other companies that know how to be accessible to a greater amount of people by making this boot stylish, comfortable and functional.
One of these is definitely that of Hunter.
A brand born in the mid 1800s with U.S. entrepreneur Harry Lee Norris who founded the North British Rubber Company, a company specializing in the production of rubber boots. Production has always focused on designing rain boots that were extremely durable and economical.
Their boots in the “Originals” section perfectly encapsulate the characteristics of the originals with an innovative twist given by the countless color choices and in their design. Made of natural rubber, with numerous parts made entirely by hand, the original Wellington boots have a polyester lining and are totally waterproof to give comfort and keep feet dry and warm on rainy days.
The boots that never fade
We have come to understand that rain boots are footwear that have a very long and articulated history that has led them to the present day to be useful, comfortable and fashionable.
When cold weather, rain and even snow come, we need shoes that can protect us and avoid possible injuries and ailments related to low temperatures and weather conditions. Rain boots, born first as galoshes to protect the shoe that was already being used and later as a footwear in its own right, have managed thanks also to important figures such as the Duke of Wellington to make their way first to the aristocracy and then to the entire population over time until today considering them almost an icon in the fall and winter fashion scene.
And do you have a pair in your shoe rack?
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