RM Williams Chelsea Boots

Updated February 10th, 2018: In Layer Cake, Daniel Craig’s character XXXX wore a pair of RM Williams Chelsea boots, reportedly the no longer available Henley Model. Since then Mr. Craig has been seen on multiple occassions out and about wearing his personal pair of RM Williams. Obviously, they’re some of his favorite footwear. The closest style I could find offered today by RM Williams is a model now called the Classic RM Craftsman in Chestnut. These are available to U.S. buyers directly from RM Williams for $495.00.

affordable alternatives RM Williams Chelsea boots

I don’t usually geek out over footwear, but my God, that is a really beautiful pair of boots!

Footwear in general is a tricky thing. Often finding the right shoes or boots is a balancing act between paying for quality vs. what we can actually afford. To help with that, I’ve divided the options into three price categories: under $100.00 U.S., under $200.00, and under $300.00.

 

Features wanted for the RM Williams Chelsea boots
  • Double gore style (i.e. elastic panels on both sides of the boot)
  • Over ankle height
  • Minimal decorative stitching; as simple and plain in design as possible
  • Slightly elongated, chisel toe shape
  • Slightly higher profile out sole, but still dressy
  • Dark brown color, with little to no burnishing

 

Best Option for the RM Williams Chelsea boots
Meermin 101475 in Expresso Antique Calf: $220.00

 affordable alternatives RM Williams Chelsea boots

Full grain calf leather uppers. Full leather lining. Closed channel leather soles. Goodyear Welt construction. Minimalist design with the dressier, chisel-toe shape. Yep, the 101475s check all the boxes! And for less than half the price of the R.M. Williams. All in all, a good deal. The problem? If these don’t fit you, you’re paying for the shipping back to Spain to return them. That makes them a risky purchase. So I strongly recommend you contact Meermin and get your size as dialed in as possible for ordering.

 

Under $100
ASOS Chelsea Boots in Brown Leather: £35.00/$56.00

affordable alternatives RM Williams Chelsea boots

If you’re not quite ready to commit to the whole Chelsea boot look, these can be a good, low-cost test pair. Genuine leather uppers on a rubber sole. ASOS offers 2 to 4 day free shipping and free returns worldwide. Which is nice. They have most sizes in stock and they also offer them in wider sizes.

 

Under $200
Marks & Spencer Collection Luxury Leather Elastic Chelsea Boots in Brown Mix: £79.00

affordable alternatives RM Williams Chelsea boots

We’ll tackle the elephant in the room first. Yes, they are a lighter color. But applying some darker polish will help take care of that over time. What makes them worth sharing is the shape. Whereas the majority of less expensive Chelseas have toe boxes that look like blobs, these have a subtle chisel shape which helps dress them up. M&S offers sizes 6 to 12. Sadly, these are not available on their U.S. site.

 

Cole Haan Eddington Waterproof Chelsea Boots in Chestnut: on sale for $129.97

affordable alternatives RM Williams Chelsea boots

Nordstrom Rack is stocking these at the sale price. And that means sizes are a little scattered and we have no idea how long they’ll be available. If you’re looking for a waterproof boot, the Eddingtons aren’t a bad choice. Full grain leather uppers, rubber sole and a “topstitched welt” construction (I honestly don’t know what that is). Nordstrom Rack offers free shipping on purchases over $100 and you can return them within 45 days if you’re not happy.

 

Under $300 
Velasca Malnatt in Dark Brown: $235.00/€235.00

affordable alternatives RM Williams Chelsea boots

Full grain leather uppers attached to the studded Vibram Eton sole using a re-craftable rapid blake stitch construction. Velasca gets points for the construction. And for its excellent customer service, if the reviews are to be believed. The Malnatts definitely have a more rounded toe box than the R.M. Williams Chelsea boots. But that could be a bonus for those of you with a wider forefoot. And since Velasca offers free shipping on purchases AND returns, there shouldn’t be a problem if the initial sizing is off.

 

Herring Shoes Coltham Chelsea Boots in Brown Waxy Calf: £225.00/$259.00

affordable alternatives RM Williams Chelsea boots

A waxy, full grain leather upper on a leather/rubber sole. And they’re made in Northampton, England. The Coltham has the slightly chiseled toe box shape we want. Plus, the gentlemen at Herring Shoes are just a pleasure to deal with. At the time of writing, they have UK sizes 6 to 13 in both medium and wide widths in stock.

 

I’ll keep adding options as I find them. In the meantime, if you find a solid option, share it in the comments!

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3 thoughts on “RM Williams Chelsea Boots

  • March 3, 2017 at 7:01 pm
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    RM Williams used to be an incredible deal at around US $250. LVMH bought out the company and decided to market it as more of a luxury brand, raised the prices, and removed the Made to Order customization in favor of a fancy “Bespoke” program. The main draw to RM Williams is that they they are a whole-cut boot meaning the vamp is one piece of leather with one seam at the back of the boot. The second feature is the pre-formed ridge running down the front of the boot which prevents crumpling and pressure on the foot. Look at almost any other Chelsea boot and you will a seam underneath the elastic insert and no ridge in the front. These features combined with the kangaroo leather option you can order make RM Williams still one of the best Chelsea boots when they can be found online under US $400. The best cheaper alternative to an RM Williams is another Australian brand, Baxter, http://baxterfootwear.com.au/products/henry-baxter/

    Reply
    • March 3, 2017 at 7:05 pm
      Permalink

      Thanks for the insight! I actually own 2 pairs of RM Williams. And I couldn’t agree with you more about the quality to price ratio before the LVMH buy out. But now that they’re $480 +? Thanks for the link to Baxters. I need to check those out.

      Reply
  • May 28, 2016 at 4:14 pm
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    I am not a show off or a snob, I am a normal working class person,I have just seen the above artical and I know that the idea is to look for an alternative!!! But R M Williams are worth every penny , I have 2 pairs of Comfort Craftsman Chestnut and Dark Tan, not only are they a nice simple looking boot but if you want comfort you have it, as they get older they get better, they are just a complete pleasure to have on your feet, They go with any cut of jeans from boot cut to skinny and suits, my advice would be to not bother with a cheap boots save up and go and get yourself a pair of R M Williams boot you will have them forever it’s worth the money in the long run !!!!

    Reply

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