A touch of the Outback, dropped right in the middle of Willis Street.
Scents of leather, wood and quality mingle in the Wellington R.M. Williams store on Willis. Soft light throughout the space spotlights a dominant tableau of boots. No longer solely worn for high country hard yakker, they're becoming fast fixtures on the feet of city-dwellers, too—thrusting the brand into the wardrobes of Wellingtonians since the store's launch in the capital earlier this year.
First impressions of the interior would have you guessing that you've walked into a (rather glam) shearing shed – and you wouldn't be wrong. The dark wooden beams, copper fittings and smooth stone floor evoke nostalgic memories of a time gone by and serve as a reminder that R.M. Williams is first and foremost the original bushman outfitter. Sporting a solid shearers working table for the iconic boots, wooden shelves for the elegant leather crafts and charcoal metal racks for the apparel, you might find yourself asking one of the exceptionally friendly staff for an ice-cold Speights.
The founder, Reginald Murray Williams, came from humble beginnings. Packing his swag and traversing the harsh and unforgiving Australian outback when he was young, he learnt his exquisite and unique craft from a local character named Dollar Mick. Creating saddles and riding boots, RM developed and honed his skills to perfection—evident in his masterwork and the most popular item sold today, the elastic sided Chelsea boot made from one piece of leather. The wild reception of his handiwork pushed him to open his first factory at 5 Percy Street, Adelaide in 1932 (which is still the company's HQ). NSpecialising beyond boots and leather goods, RM began to diversify into clothing. Many original styles of trousers and shirts are still available today, truly a testament to the brand's classic taste. Made from the highest quality materials, the ethics that RM instilled within his company have carried through to today, where the boots and leather goods are a personification of RM's passion.
Importantly, it is not just the boots that have made R.M. Williams an iconic household name in Australia. Crocodile wallets, hand plaited kangaroo belts and leather bags vie for attention while the classic collection of shirts and jeans satisfy a loyal trans-Tasman customer base.
The Wellington R.M. Williams store now caters to a much larger demographic than it historically has. Housing lush rubbed silk dresses, merino fashion blankets and its first exclusive ladies boot (the "Adelaide"), R.M. Williams is evolving from its predominantly "country boy" image to one of tasteful yet luxe fashion for women and men. However, the company has not forgotten its roots with its designs still encompassing the stories of the outback and still adhering to timeless, yet functional fashion.
With Wellington hipsters and burgeoning farmers embracing the brand quicker than you can say "crikey!" how has R.M.Williams managed to snag a spot in Wellington's best loved brands? Simply, it is the romance of the boot and the history of the brand. Men and women come into the store often to have a chat about how they've owned their boots for 20-25 years, making them old friends. Lives are lived and memories are made in these boots, creating unfaltering loyalty.
From the paddock to the pavement, nothing beats a pair of R.M.'s.
Now, where's that Speights?
Content by Jonathan Brumley.