Le Chameau: Wellington’s Waterloo

160901-oliverbrown-aw-181113 It isn’t hard to imagine the Duke of Wellington popping across Green Park from Apsley House one afternoon to see his bootmaker, Hoby of St James’s, with something rather particular in mind. He wanted, so the story goes, a custom pair of Hessian cavalry boots. He wanted them made from soft calfskin, with the trim removed and with a tighter fit around the calf. He wanted, had he but known it, a pair of wellies. The following century, the welly boot would come to be fashioned from rubber and play an essential role in the trenches of the First World War. Over the course of that war and the next, word of the Wellington’s rugged practicality spread to every arena of life, to fishermen, factory workers and farmers as well as fox-hunters. But Wellingtons, of course, have always been primarily associated with the latter and with British field sports in general. We’ve come to accept the idea that wellies, though wonderfully waterproof, were cold, generally uncomfortable, ill-fitting and desperately difficult to get off (hence the widespread popularity of those V-shaped platforms by the back door). Ask anyone who owns a pair of Le Chameau boots, however, and you’ll find that all-weather, all-day boots can now be incomparably warm and comfortable and as easy to remove as they are to slip on. With leather or neoprene lining, a zip or gusset at the side, solid support and proper grip, Le Chameau’s Chasseur, Chasseurnord and Vierzonord boots are what The Iron Duke would have wanted – even if they are French.