The Australian boot-maker R.M. Williams is opening a six-week pop-up store in East London, stocking its apparel and signature Craftsman boot – recently reimagined with new types of oiled-distressed, pulled-oiled and burnished leathers.
The brand was founded in 1932 by Reginald Murray Williams, AKA “R.M.”, in Adelaide. Williams observed the need for hard-wearing products that could endure the rigours of working in the harsh, Australian bush. He thus spent months adapting a single piece of softened hide into a boot he felt was suitable.
In 1934, Williams was advertising his Elastic Side Boots in Adelaide’s Chronicle newspaper. The boot, made from one piece of leather, was both tough enough for the outback and also easy to repair. Thus people from the outback started heading to Williams’s store on 5 Percy Street to purchase his footwear and the brand was born.
Today, R.M. Williams’s original boot styles incorporate more than 80 processes, each performed by hand by craftsmen and women with multiple years of training. The brand also produces hand-plaited belts, made with 1000 plaits using a skill handed down from bushmen to Williams himself.
Another key feature of the R.M. Williams brand was that it built its business around making-to-order. The brand’s museum in Percy Street, Adelaide houses Williams’s metre-long Remington Rand card machine, which included all the names, addresses, sizes and fabric preferences of his customers, dating back to the 1950s. This was done long before today’s data-marketing and loyalty programs existed.
Now, the brand is keeping with the times but also sticking to its roots. Its online bespoke service means that customers from around the world can order R.M. Williams footwear in the exact material they want.