Fashion

For Blundstone, Consistency is Key to Change

The Australian footwear brand is celebrating 50 years of its 500 series Chelsea boot, which has transcended time and lifestyle with minimal aesthetic changes.
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Photo via Instagram

It takes a powerful pair of shoes to last 150 years without any major aesthetic overhaul. New trends emerge all the time, and most lifestyles drastically change alongside technological advances and societal evolution. Yet Australian footwear brand Blundstone has managed to stay successful since its founding in 1870, and its boots still look largely like the original. The brand’s functional, understated design became a hit among Tasmanian farmers and builders and only expanded across locations and lifestyles as time passed and globalization spread. While fashions and trades have changed, nothing has been able to beat a practical, classic boot whose versatility transcends place and activity.

In all its history, Blundstone’s biggest revolutionary moment was the introduction of its Chelsea boot, the Original 500, in 1968. A unisex series that arose alongside social movements across the West, the style has become synonymous with the brand and vice versa through its use value and timeless appeal. The only changes over the years have been technological, so though today’s Blundstone wearer can comfortably take their boots through more activity than ever, the aesthetic has proven to last over a half-century as the world around it evolves.

Photo via Instagram

To mark the anniversary of its most iconic product, the footwear brand recently launched a new campaign, “Live in My Blundstones.” Celebrating the boots’ universal appeal, it highlights individuals who integrate their pairs into a range of lifestyles, from rugged labor to tap dancing to a leisurely hike. Blundstone encourages its wearers to participate via social media, and a quick scroll through the accompanying Instagram hashtag shows a worldwide fanbase that takes their shoes everywhere, from picturesque natural settings to concrete jungles. The brand doesn’t need constant seasonal evolution or a viral gimmick; the boots’ look and feel are just that versatile.

With 50 years of the 500 series’ success behind them and the 150th brand anniversary on the horizon, Blundstone has a lot to celebrate. To reflect, Kate Shevack, Managing Director at Brand Initiatives Group and Head of U.S. Marketing for Blundstone, talked with L’Officiel USA about the label’s longevity, individualism through universality, and her favorite pair of Blunnies. It’s clear that an adventurous future is ahead, both for Blundstone and for all its wearers.

Photo via Instagram

Your boots have developed from a functional purpose but also have gained popularity with their classic look and rugged charm. Who does today’s Blundstone wearer look like?

The 500 was originally worn by generations of Tasmanian farmers and builders. However, today we find our boots have an affinity with different people, from different walks of life and countries. There is no one set Blundstone wearer, as the all-rounder’s understated, unisex style has propelled the boot to cult status among creatives, adventurers, and tastemakers around the world.

 

What is your favorite pair of Blundstones?

Blundstone Style #063, the women’s dress boot. Where form meets function, with a lean profile and chiseled square toe.

 

This Original #500 Series is unisex. In a time of major conversations surrounding gender, what do you hope the boots bring to the wearer’s look?

Blundstone boots are practical with a timeless design that can look great with whatever you’re wearing and guaranteed to feel as great as they look every step of the way. The majority of our styles are unisex, and we hope to bring confidence, comfort, and style to all our wearers, regardless of gender.

 

What are some inspiring stories from the “Live in My Blundstones” campaign?

The Live In My Blundstones campaign shines a spotlight on unique individuals and their craft. The common thread tying these stories together is, of course, that they wear their Blundstones proudly and daily. Like our friends from Tap Dogs, an Australian dance production. It’s a high-energy experience that is rugged and raw. The show is set on a construction site in the steelwork town of Newcastle, Australia, and the dancers perform against all challenges in their custom Blundstone boots. Regular tap shoes wouldn’t hold up against the scaffolding, metal, and wood of a construction site, so the Tap Dogs took the Blundstone boot and put taps on the bottom to protect the dancers’ feet. We met with five Tap Dogs dancers to talk about their love of tap dancing and Blundstones and incorporated that into our Live In My Blundstones campaign. We’ve already completed a few segments and are excited about the upcoming releases.
 

Photo courtesy of Blundstone

What is something you want the world to know about Blundstone that they may not know already?

A spectacular thing about Blundstone is that it remains not only Tasmanian but family-owned. The organization comprises a highly integrated group of companies that operate under a family whose history traces back to the 1840s. This family purchased Blundstone in 1932, merging their footwear manufacturing operations under the Blundstone name. And despite the company’s success and global recognition, it has remained family-owned with the same values it has always had.

 

Can you discuss the technological and design improvements over time and how they have enhanced the boots in action?

Of course! Our boot outsoles have gone through a few transitions over the years, and today is a durable, slip-resistant TPU. We also have maximized comfort by adding a cushioned midsole and an SPS Max Comfort System in the heel strike zone to maximize shock absorption.

 

In a world of constantly changing style, what do you think gives the Chelsea boot its longevity?

Blundstone Chelsea boots were built from the ground up. Their rugged, all-rounder charm appealed to farmers, builders and workers who toiled on their feet all day. As the decades rolled by, the all-day comfort, slip on/slip off ease and timeless design have seen our Chelsea boot audience grow to adventurers, creatives and functional fashion wearers globally. The 500 has remained relatively unchanged since the '60s, which is a testament to the craftsmanship and longevity of the Blundstone brand.

 

What are some of the best places to wear a pair of Blundstones?

These days you will see Blundstones virtually anywhere – from Brooklyn to Tel Aviv. They are designed to fit your lifestyle, go where you go, and do whatever it is you do. So, whether you're navigating the rugged terrain of Tasmania or simply walking down a city street, you’ll look and feel great.

 

What do you hope to see with the Live in My Blundstones social media campaign?

We hope the campaign inspires people to do what they love every day. When you pull on a pair of Blundstones, you become part of something greater—a community of people who share in a passion for doing things in life. While our boots certainly won’t change the world by themselves, the people who wear them just might.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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