Glastonbury Festival Fashion History: Remember when Kate Moss wore rain boots?

Oscar Holland, CNN

Remember when Kate Moss wore wellies (i.e. rain boots for those outside the UK) at Glastonbury?

As the historic festival returns to Worthy Farm for the first time since 2019, we look back on one of its most memorable fashion moments. After all, no British summer would be complete without copious amounts of mud.

And no one has conquered it like Moss.

Around 17 years ago, Britain’s best-known supermodel broke fashion’s proverbial fourth wall and joined mortals in their muddy misery. Of course, she’d probably spent the weekend glamping in the festival’s VIP area. But a dirty field is England’s great leveler – and on those short, well-photographed walks through the grounds of Glastonbury, cigarette in hand, she was just like us.

Until his choice of practical shoes transformed festival fashion and helped save a heritage bootmaker from the brink of obsolescence.

It was the summer of 2005 and Moss was near the peak of his powers. Media interest in the location of his festival was amplified by a fixation on his then-nascent banter with Pete Doherty. But while the Libertines leader certainly seemed more comfortable in these conditions, it was Moss who caught the eye.

Matching a pair of classic black Hunter rain boots with a vest, short shorts and a studded belt (and later a sparkly tunic), the model was a picture of understated glamour. Below the knee, his look was interchangeable with that of a Somerset pig farmer. But above, she could have easily walked out of a Chelsea mansion for a well-placed paparazzi ambush.

The images quickly went viral (or as viral as it gets in the pre-social age of media). The bastion of mid-’90s “heroine chic” had become the face of its slightly older and more respectable cousin: mid-’00s festival chic.

In the process, wellies secured their place in the popular imagination. No longer the preserve of farming, they had become a rubbery status symbol that went best with trilby hats, ties and other questionable accessories of the 2000s. This once practical boot had transformed into a bourgeois badge of honor indicating that the wearer was ready to “rough her up” and stay fabulous (the drug-afflicted rock star boyfriend remained an optional part of the look).

Suddenly, festival outfits became a clothing category in their own right, something much more than an amalgamation of items you didn’t want to mess up. But an even deeper transformation was also underway – that of the then struggling Hunter Boot Limited.

The true heyday of the Scottish brand may have been during the World Wars, when it produced huge quantities of waterproof boots for the front lines. But never before in the company’s 149-year history have its sensible shoes been so desirable. While the power of the Moss effect shouldn’t be overstated (its endorsement didn’t stop the bootmaker from entering administration in 2006), it helped spark a remarkable turnaround in the fortunes of the company. ‘company.

In 2007, the company was under new ownership and saw an 85% increase in sales year-over-year. It has since become a festival staple, producing rainwear, outerwear and boots in all sorts of colors and styles.

Once prized for keeping gangrene at bay in the trenches, Hunter has completed the ultimate 21st century transformation to become the rainy day boot for celebrities from Rita Ora to Rihanna, Cara Delevingne to Alexa Chung.

And to think that all Kate wanted was a pair of dry feet.

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Jan G. Gilbert