The humble All Weather Gumboots had royal beginnings, or at least aristocratic ones. The first Wellington boot was in fact designed by the Duke of Wellington in the early 19th century. It seems the Duke did not like Hessian boots available at the time so he made some out of soft calfskin leather, to fit more closely around the leg, come up to mid-calf and with a low cut heel of 2.5 cm.
So how did the leather Wellington boot go from an English gentleman’s fashion statement to a practical rubber gumboot worn around the world, and more recently become again a fashion item?
The first rubber gumboots (Still known as Wellingtons) were made in 1853 in France by the company now known as AIGLE. Rubber Wellies were supplied to soldiers in both WWI and WWII. By the end of 1945 the rubber Wellington boot was popular among men, women and children.
The term gumboot appears to have originated in New Zealand, from the 19th century Kauri-gum diggers who wore this footwear, or perhaps because the boots were made from gum rubber.
So what would you call them?
Whether you call them gumboots, gummies, rainboots, wellies or Wellingtons, you can’t deny that they have come a long way from their rather auspicious beginnings.