Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The humble Blunnie

Fashionably unfashionableAndrew Anthony
Friday February 3, 2006


There was a time, not so many years ago, when just about everyone - skinheads, postmen and right-on professionals - wore Dr Martens shoes and boots. They were the bold footprint of a new democratic age: practical, classless and, though they were designed by a couple of Bavarian physicians, quintessentially British.

Then something terrible happened. They became fashionable. Which is to say, they became self-conscious, ironic, jokey. Before he became an expert on TV shows about the 70s, the designer Wayne Hemingway began doing groovy things with Dr Martens for Red or Dead. Style diversification became the norm, and very soon the boots lost their distinctive identity. Now you can find 78 types of Dr Martens on the company's website, and none of them looks like required wearing. Not even my postman wears Docs these days.

However, there is a boot that remains true to itself, functional, simple and a thing of understated beauty. Step forward the Blundstone, which, as the company likes to say, is Australian for boots.

Aside from Errol Flynn and the devil marsupial, Tasmania has not given the world much to celebrate. But if for nothing else, it deserves global approbation for the Blundstone boot. Its style is as imperishable as its material is indestructible. I've had a pair that I've worn most days for about seven years and they show no sign of wearing. Indeed, I've noticed that if I leave them to their own devices, they seem to clean themselves. What more could a man want?

Blundstone has not been immune to the pressure of diversification, yet, while it has developed a number of ranges, it has managed to retain its classic appeal. All the same, Blundstone wearers should be wary of the company's boast that the boot is "as likely to appear on Parisian catwalks as it is in the mines of Pilbarra". Fashion: it really is the pits.

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