Padi New and his offending Rossi boot

Blundstone boots are an iconic Australian bootmaker with a history reaching back 150 years.

Over that time they’ve developed a reputation for toughness, comfort and reliability that’s made them a favourite of farmers and workers of all sorts alike.

They’ve been celebrating their  anniversary in some style, even scoring some free coverage recently on the ABC’s 7.30 report, no less.

But while the company may be celebrating, many of its customers who have been faithful to the brand for years definitely aren’t.

To put it bluntly, Blundstone boots arent what they used to be.

With the exception of its gumboots, Blundstones are no longer made in Australia but come from factories in Vietnam, China, Singapore, India and Europe.

They’re made to a price and the quality has deteriorated makedly if online reviews are anything to go by.

Blundstones have developed a reputation for poor quality,  disentegrating soles and lousy customer service.

A pair of Blundstones I bought recently didn’t even last long enough for the soles to peel off – the toe caps collapsed inside, making them unwearable.

Rossis rubbish too

But it’s not just Blundstones. That other famous Aussie bootmaker, Rossi, is no better. The boot that Aussie soldiers marched in throughout WW2 loudly proclaims those good old Aussie origins, yet makes most of its boots in China, Vietnam and India.

Rossis, too, have a reputation for the soles disintegrating and stitching that falls apart.

Bridgetown retiree Padi New is a loyal Rossi wearer but the last pair he bought split right across the sole on one boot within two years.

He reckons that’s not good enough from a bootmaker with a reputation for boots that didn’t give up on you until the soles just about wore out.

Mr New expected that would be about four years, given the moderate duty around the yard he asks from them.

Despite that he’s sticking with Rossis.

“They’re comfortable as long as they don’t split, otherwise I’ll go with something else,” Mr New said.

“At the end of the day who wants to spend four-to-five hundred dollars on a pair of RM Williams,” he said.

Paddi New isn’t alone. The soles on the pair of Rossis I bought started peeling off within weeks and were headed for the bin within a few months.

Bootmakers blame the collapsing soles problem on the polyurethane they’re made from.

 It’s prone to hydrolysis – “the chemical breakdown of polyurethane (PU) with moisture/water”, according to Rossi’s website, which makes the extraordinary claim that “This is not considered a manufacturing fault with our product; it is a property of PU.”

Wear them regularly from new and don’t get them wet seems to be their suggestion.

So if Blundstones and Rossis are both rubbish these days who can you turn to?

Better boots

Well anecdotally at least Mongrels and Redbacks seem to have a good reputation for reliability and comfort and both are Australian-made.

Mongrels in particular  get some very solid online reviews in quite big numbers and the company’s response to its customers suggests it’s a business that takes customer service seriously.

That’s quite a refreshing change from Blundstone.

 *Blundstone and Rossi were approached for comment. Blundstones did not respond. Rossi responded but ultimately did not answer questions.