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A Welly Wonderland

Updated on August 23, 2017
Graham Brown profile image

Graham Brown is a partner at Woolsthorpe Wellies, seeking out the best in outdoor footwear since 2006

For those of us of a certain age, wellington boots were a necessary evil to be endured through snowy winters and wet summers as parents tried to keep those loosely fitting grey socks vaguely dry, but rubber has taken a turn in the 21st century.

As the only specialists in outdoor footwear travelling the UK to major country events, Woolsthorpe Wellies has seen the change first hand.

Putting aside the garish, mainly plastic-based boots that fall into the fashion category, the boots worn by the serious country set, be they farmers, walkers, dog owners, country sports enthusiasts or horse owners, used to be dominated by the British Hunter brand. Since Hunter moved their manufacture to the Far East, finishing the manufacture of wellies in Britain, and looked more at the lifestyle markets in the USA and UK, Woolsthorpe Wellies has had to rely on quality manufacturers from further afield.

The French seem to have the capability to produce the finest wellingtons, with the two leading manufacturers producing ranges that are comfortable, hard wearing and iconic. Sustaining a manufacturing process that has not changed significantly for many decades, Le Chameau and Aigle lead the way in natural rubber hand-made footwear that dominates the quality end of the British market.

Le Chameau is the aspirational brand for the country sports enthusiasts, producing a range that offers tailored calf fitting for ladies and gents in their iconic olive green. Formerly manufacturing in northern France, Le Chameau has now moved production completely to their own Moroccan factory (Morocco being a former French protectorate) where they have been producing high quality rubber boots for over 20 years.

Aigle is less well known in the UK but is the oldest producer of rubber boots in the world (1853) and enjoys a large market share worldwide with their range of superb quality wellies (and clothing). The Parcours 2 collection moves the humble welly beyond the functional to a comfort level akin to walking boots, employing the latest anti-fatigue technology and shock absorption with the best in natural rubber, all produced by hand in northern France.

The newer quality pretenders in the market place make the soft-legged neoprene wellies, with the market leader in the UK, Muck Boots, emerging with their range of warm rugged boots in a variety of colours and styles. Based in the USA but manufactured in the Far East, Muck Boots have worked closely with Woolsthorpe Wellies and have seen their market share in the UK grow considerably over the last decade. Their USP, alongside the distinctive look and comfort of their warm boots, is that the soft neoprene leg will clamp comfortably to the calf, regardless of the size of the wearer!

Despite the explosion of trading online and our own website, Woolsthorpe Wellies continues to see a healthy flow of potential customers visiting their trade stand at events to compare the best in outdoor footwear first hand and try the premium manufacturers for themselves, find the best fit and the brand most suited to their needs. It’s worth a trip if we are nearby…

© 2017 Graham Brown

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