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Comfort Down Under

Forget UGGs, Foster's and Akubra--the brand that defines the Australian character is R.M. Williams, a company that has clothed generation after generation of bushmen. So ingrained is the company in Australian culture that IP Australia (the PTO of down under) named it one of the country's 10 most important brands.

One of R.M. Williams' most popular products is the Craftsman boot, which can be found on the feet of everyone from moleskin pant-wearing ranchers in the outback to Armani-clad businessmen in Sydney. The handmade Craftsman is a slip-on, elastic-sided boot--a style indigenous to Australia.

R.M. Williams is now exporting that style to the U.S. in the form of the Comfort Craftsman. This made-for-North-America boot is identical in appearance to its popular namesake. The only real difference is that R.M. Williams replaced the leather sole with rubber to help the boot better weather snow and rain. The Comfort Craftsman also has a more cushioned heel, which should appeal to the more comfort-minded U.S. consumer.

There's little doubt these boots are built for comfort and durability. I wore mine through the Chicago winter, and they emerged as good as new. They also are among the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn. And although they aren't designed to turn heads on the runways of New York, they have a hip, tailored look that makes them at home with either a suit or jeans. That tailored look is enhanced by a classic, chiseled square toe and polished leather uppers made from one piece of yearling hide. This fine-grained leather comes from a one-year-old calf. For added comfort, the company lined the interior with goat leather.

That kind of quality and attention to detail, though, comes with a price. The boots retail for $375 and are available in both men's and women's sizes. But don't bother searching for them in your local department store. They are only available in the U.S. from the R.M. Williams store in New York at 212.308.1808.

staff Writer

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