When it comes to fashion trends, University of Saskatchewan students aren’t necessarily the most hip. However, when it comes to footwear, we seem to be on the cutting edge. What am I referring to? The answer appears to be right at our feet: the humble Blundstone boot.
In case you’re out of the loop, Blundstones are those slip-on ankle-length leather workboots that are worn by every Broadway Avenue hipster. A blue-collar take on the Chelsea boot, Blundstones are a little chunky, a little rustic and entirely synonymous with the city of Saskatoon. But, what makes this Australian boot so damn popular on the Prairies?
Blundstones are far from a recent discovery. The Blundstone company was established on the island of Tasmania in the mid-1800s by John and Eliza Blundstone, who had recently immigrated to Australia from Derbyshire, England. The boots broke into the international scene in the 1990s, and Blundstone Canada came along in 1994.
Although Blundstone makes several different types of shoes, their most well-known product is any of a variety of laceless ankle-length leather workboot. This specific line of boots is officially called “The Original,” but they are colloquially referred to just as “Blundstones” or “Blunnies” for short.
Today, Canada is the third largest market for Blundstones in the world. They can be purchased at over 450 retailers across the country. Sales remain the strongest along the coasts, but even Saskatoon alone has 10 separate retail locations.
However, it’s important to think about why Saskatoon has jumped on the Blundstone bandwagon. One reason could be sheer practicality. Our city is subject to some pretty brutal weather conditions, ranging from snow to sleet to rain — and that could be in a single day. Warm, grippy and relatively waterproof, a pair of Blundstones can be a smart option when dealing with Saskatoon’s unpredictable climate.
Another reason could be versatility. I’ll admit that I’m not writing this article from an unbiased perspective. I am a Blundstone owner. I love my pair, and I wear them just about everywhere — from the provincial legislature to the Ness Creek Music Festival and to lots of places in between. They can be dressed up or down depending on the outfit.
There’s also something to be said for just liking a thing because it’s cool. We’ve all bought into a trend at one time or another — maybe because it was popular, or because our friends had it or because we didn’t want to be left out. Why should the Blundstone trend be any different? There’s a good chance that the Blundstone boom can be partially credited to the nature of trends.
Not everyone in Saskatoon has taken the Blundstone trend in stride, however. For as much love as they receive, there’s also a decent amount of Blundstone backlash.
For some, the boot just isn’t their style. Blundstones definitely have a particular look to them, and it isn’t for everyone.
Cost is also likely to prevent some people from purchasing a pair of Blundstones. Let’s be real: Blundstones — at least new ones — are relatively expensive, when compared to other footwear options.
Price will vary from retailer to retailer, but a pair of adult-sized Original Blundstones sells for around $210 from the Blundstone Canada website, with other styles costing even more. That’s definitely not an affordable option for many people — particularly those on a student budget.
Whether you love or hate them, it doesn’t seem like Blundstones are going anywhere anytime soon. But, who knows? Maybe, one day, they’ll be so popular in Saskatchewan that we get our very own line — the Blundstoon, perhaps?
Photo by Lesia Karalash