How R.M. Williams' The Craftsman Boot Became a Fashion Icon

RM Williams' The Craftsman Boot

From American presidents to superstar performers, the handcrafted footwear born in the Australian outback has come a long way since 1932. This is how R.M. Williams became a design icon.

A star is born

Not too many clothing brands can claim to have been worn by both John Howard and Lady Gaga. But the Aussie boot brand founded in Adelaide by bonafide bushman Reginald Murray Williams can count everyone from Barack Obama to Bill Clinton, Nicole Kidman and the Duchess of Cambridge among its fans, not to mention jackaroos and jillaroos across the country. “If you make something good, people will make a track to your door,” said Williams. “We made simple things that people wanted and kept them simple.”

The Craftsman boot in a 1966 R.M. Williams catalogue

Step by step

The Craftsman is the most emblematic and popular shoe in the R.M. Williams range. Originally designed as a dress boot, its elegance belies a hardy work ethic and long-lasting grit. Each elasticised, chisel-toe boot starts as a single piece of highquality leather before passing through 80 pairs of hands, including those of the lasters, who work by feel, moulding the leather to help achieve the right size and fit. Soles are sewn with a leather welt strip, a traditional construction method that allows well-worn boots to be resoled easily in the R.M. Williams Adelaide workshop.


RM Williams' The Craftsman Boot

Each pair of Signature Craftsman boots, which retail for $1000, is personally checked, approved and signed (on a brass plaque fixed to the leather sole) by the master craftsman.

Naked ambition

Actor Hugh Jackman, who became a private investor in the firm in 2015, was named as the Australian brand’s first boots ambassador in March 2019. Appearing in a commercial wearing nothing but a pair of black Craftsmans, Jackman waxed lyrical about how comfortable his balls were – balls of his feet, that is.

Throwing out the rule book

 Courtney Barnett at the 2016 Grammys

For her Grammys debut in 2016, when she was nominated for the Best New Artist award, Australian singer Courtney Barnett eschewed a glamorous gown in favour of black jeans, a shirt, shaggy hairdo and R.M. Williams boots. Meghan Trainor ended up collecting the award but Barnett won offstage for best original style.

On loop

From red carpet to boardroom to paddock, there are endless ways to wear your R.M. Williams boots but there’s only one way to pull on a pair – slip a finger through each of the signature woven tugs to evenly spread the strain and maintain the boot’s shape.

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