R.M. Williams is the timeless leather boot brand with a regenerative attitude

Introducing R.M. Williams – a timeless leather boot brand

R.M. Williams is the timeless leather boot brand with a regenerative attitude

By Fiona Ward

Australian bootmaker R.M. Williams may be a heritage brand that dates back to the 1930s, but its spirit is firmly focused on the future. Founded by the late Reginald Murray ‘R.M.’ Williams back in 1932, the company has come a long way to the global status it enjoys today. Back then, it all started with R.M.’s timeless riding boots, which were crafted from a single piece of leather for a durable yet timeless look.

The brand’s famous founder was a proud bushman, with roots deeply ingrained in the Australian outback and those who work it – so it’s no surprise that his legacy sees the brand take on a regenerative outlook by partnering with carbon-neutral farms in order to drastically reduce environmental impact.

In fact, R.M. Williams aims to redefine the environmental ‘bootprint’ of leather, too, by sourcing all its hides from Leather Working Group gold-certified farms and choosing 100% traceable suppliers. It’s something the brand has put a real focus on – boosting its C-suite of executives with sustainability expert Angela Winkle in 2022, who has brought in countless new initiatives to prioritise positive change.

That includes teaming up with carbon-positive cotton supplier Good Earth Cotton in 2022 and becoming members of LWG, which has seen the brand pledge itself to crucial campaigns such as the Deforestation-Free Call to Action for Leather.

While R.M. Williams’ core values are based in quality products that last, Angela has been open about the harsh reality that that isn’t enough. “The most beneficial thing we can do is create products that last, that can be worn year after year; avoid that overconsumption in the apparel and footwear industry,” she said in a recent interview. “We’re very proud of that legacy, and [craftsmanship] is a true sustainability, but we also need to take responsibility for the impact of the products we make and sell.”

Explaining why looking at the whole manufacturing chain is so crucial, she added: “Sustainability challenges the whole system. For apparel, footwear… we’re making the most progress when we engage with our full value chain. That’s going right back to the growers, like Good Earth Cotton; also going to farming collectives around leather. Working with the whole supply chain on how we transition to more sustainable materials.”

R.M. Williams has counted the likes of U.S. President Bill Clinton as a customer, as well as Daniel Craig, Cillian Murphy and even Lady Gaga – but something tells us that the brand’s tenacious creator would have been most proud of its continuing pledge to use honest materials in innovative ways, in order to protect the land it came from.

R.M. created the single-leather boot almost a century ago, to provide something that would work hard and last a lifetime for even the hardiest of bushmen – and since then, its legacy has grown into one of Australia’s biggest business success stories. Even so, the brand is still open to implementing big change, which might just be the most impressive thing.