Newscorp journalist Eliza Barr sparked debate on Twitter today, with an observation about RM Williams. She remarked upon how often people wearing the iconic Australian boots gathered in flocks, in places like North Shore pubs, the security checkpoint at the Qantas terminal and Adelaide.
“Which destination do you reckon has more pairs of RM Williams, a north shore pub or the security checkpoint at the Qantas terminal?” Barr asked her 15.8k followers, followed up by: “This is not a dig, it’s a nice shoe, it’s just amusing how they congregate” and “Can’t believe no-one has suggested just ‘Adelaide’ yet.”
Standing in a queue of about a thousand people (heavily male) this morning at qantas security I’m going with Qantas terminal : fact— Cecilia Storniolo (@Cecilia_St) April 5, 2022
Other Twitter users were quick to add their two cents, with Samantha X writing: “Urban cowboys on way to Brisbane.”
Anything during a Canberra sitting week trumps both those options (the Qantas terminal clique obviously feeding into that). Good boots though!— Marc Snape (@SnapeMarc) April 6, 2022
Twitter user Alistair Grinbergs wrote: “Any decent stock auction or regional/state cattle show,” adding that “Blundstone, Mongrel, Baxter & Harold’s all make Chelsea riding boots that are virtually indistinguishable from RMs on casual observation.”
“Anyone saying they’re no longer worn out in the country isn’t from the country.”Alistair Grinbergs
Another Twitter user, Alex Mckinnon, wrote: “Young labor caucus.”
South Australian private school reunions.— Royce Kurmelovs (@RoyceRk2) April 6, 2022
Further suggestions included: “A first 15 rugby game at Toowoomba Grammar” and “fridays riverside after a Queensland reds game.”
Easy, it’s a salary worker in South Yara trying to be all about that farm life.— Rob Frank (@rob2victory) April 6, 2022
Honourable mentions must also go to the shouts of “The ABC Gold Coast newsroom” and “a LNP presser in toowoomba.”
Any kind of “official” visit to a Northern Territory remote community where media is present— Polly Maeve (@PollyMaeve) April 6, 2022
Finally, another good three suggestions were: “The Oaks when the rugby is on,” “Mount Isa Rodeo” and “The office floor of an accounting firm, particularly if it contains the audit or legal teams.”
Others pointed out that there are more family-owned Aussie boot makers out there than RM Williams.
This kind of commentary comes after RM Williams was bought out in 2014 by Louis Vuitton-backed private entity L Catterton. At that time many disgruntled customers believe the brand betrayed its country base, marketing itself as urban fashion, and becoming too expensive.
RM Williams was bought back into Australian hands in 2020, when an investment company owned by Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest and his wife Nicola purchased it.
The ABC reported at the time that the sale sparked calls for the new owners to take RM Williams back to its country workwear roots.
“But that could be a challenge as Julie Newton, who runs a clothing store in the Northern Territory town of Katherine, said sales of RM Williams had declined over the years,” the ABC reported.
Apparently many people in the country prefer to wear cheaper, more comfortable, lace-up boots, for working, and might wear RM Williams to go to a nice dinner or something.
Sales appear to still be going well in cities though. According to the AFR RM Williams’ online sales doubled in the “pandemic shift.”
According to Adelaide Now, “R.M. Williams sold a record 250,000 pairs during the 2020-2021 financial year.”