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That fad created by Arthur Wellesley, the First Duke of Wellington, continues to thrive some 200 years after its birth. Wanting boots that were both dashing and utilitarian, the Duke of Wellington commissioned his shoemaker, Hobie of James’s Street, London, to create what was the early prototype for the modern wellie. It was leather and paid homage to classic military styling. But, enough history! Flash forward to 2014 and we find that this boot style that has at times been the choice of dandies, the upper crust and labourers alike on the feet of celebs throughout the world. It has evolved and diversified and is not the same boot that was based on those of Hessian soldiers. What would the duke think of his boot in rubber with painted-on neon flowers? Wellies in all colours and with all manner of designs on them are in much demand at better clothing stores both online and off. All you have to do is a quick search for wellies on ebay.co.uk to get a sense of the wide variety of styles and demand for these boots.
Some have traced the resurgence of the boot as a fashion statement back to the 1980s and a picture of Lady Diane Spencer. In the picture, she is wearing her rustic green wellies while standing with her fiancé, Prince Charles, just after announcing their engagement.
According to an article by author and journalist Iain Hollingshead in the Telegraph, The Sloane Ranger Handbook reported that two years after that photograph, “London Sloane’s sprout green wellies in wet weather like a plague of frogs”. And, purportedly, a craze begins. (In the same article published in January 2012, Mr Hollingshead wrongly reported the wellie trend was waning. Hollingshead, who shows obvious contempt for the wellie as a fashion statement, was probably guilty of wishful thinking.) Who knows if Princess Diana was the one who brought wellies back into the fashion world? Who knows where these things start? Whatever, it’s a good story.
To judge how strongly the wellie craze is thriving, consider that the wellie boot is now indispensable at Glastonbury and other music festivals. Kimberley Dadds of the Daily Mail calls green wellies “the ultimate footwear of Glastonbury”. If you see a photograph from the festival, chances are you will see attendees in willies of every hue style and pattern you could ever imagine and some you really couldn’t!
Whether you are in London, Paris, New York or Los Angeles, you’ll find men, women and children choosing wellies as their footwear. The list of celebrities who wear the boot provides a directory of who’s who in the entertainment world. From Katy Perry to Kate Moss to Reese Witherspoon to Beyoncé to the members of One Direction; the craze remains strong among the fashionistas and other trendsetters. There are complete Pinterest pages dedicated to nothing more than showing celebrities and notables wearing their wellies. Love for the boot has touched the entire world.
And as trends go, the wellie craze has all that it takes to give a fashion item longevity. They are comfortable and easily worn all day. They are practical. They provide proper protection from the weather. Celebrities consistently make it a part of their wardrobes. They are adaptable to many moods and suitable in many settings. Most of all, no matter which style you choose, they just look great. Expect them to be around among the well-dressed for the foreseeable future.