Blundstone celebrates 150th anniversary in 2020
Footwear brand Blundstone, known for its elastic-sided Chelsea boots, is celebrating its 150th anniversary in 2020, with a yearlong series of activations, including a special microsite, a creative campaign, a limited edition #150 Boot, and a new premium ‘Heritage Series’ of footwear.
Established in Tasmania in 1870, Blundstone remains 100 percent family-owned and started with John Blundstone making fit-for-purpose footwear that could withstand the cobbled city streets, rugged farmland, dance and factory floors of Hobart, Tasmania in the late-1800s. The philosophy of durability, quality and innovation has continued and the brand now offers boots style across men, women and children.
“There are only a handful of brands that have been in existence for 150 years and an even smaller number that remain family-owned,” said Steve Gunn, Blundstone chief executive in a statement. “The success of the Blundstone brand is that we have always remained true to our heritage. Blundstone boots were born tough to weather the untamed terrain of Tasmania, they have marched in armies and they have conquered Everest.”
Gunn, added: “Today, our boots continue to work hard, exploring the world while simultaneously pounding the pavements of fashion capitals globally. We’re really excited to mark our 150th milestone with new partners, campaigns and products.”
Blundstone’s heritage drives the brand forward as it celebrates 150 years
Blundstone offers around 150 styles worldwide, with the number 1 bestseller in the US and worldwide being the brand’s iconic 550 Chelsea boot, specifically the 585 (Rustic Brown colour), which was introduced to the market 50 years ago.
The #500s set the blueprint for a style that defines the brand to this day and the expansion of the silhouette was incredibly significant. In the 2000s, the boot was only offered in black and brown, but in the last 10 years, the colour offerings have expanded, alongside an additional 500 silhouettes, such as the Lace Up and High Top.
The footwear brand, which has always classed itself as a unisex offering, has also seen a rise in its female audience who have embraced the utilitarian function, and this has driven the growth of brand forward “in leaps and bounds over the last decade”.
What is it about Blundstone that has made the brand relevant for the last 150 years and still resonate with the modern consumer?
Gunn explains: “Blundstone fits into the current fashion landscape because of the shift in practicality and function over style – there is an appreciation for an insider brand with authenticity and a genuine story.
“Additionally, we see utility is becoming more and more embraced, which aligns with the current sneaker-craze and functional-wear obsession amongst modern consumers. We pride ourselves in the fact that although Blundstones are widely known, they still have an exclusiveness to them.”
To celebrate its 150th year, Blundstone have a year-long series of activations planned to take place across the globe, including the unveiling of an all-new creative campaign celebrating those who have worn the boots in the past and those who wear them today, which will be the hero piece for the 150th microsite that will showcase the brand’s history and heritage, as well as serve as a platform for a UGC competition taking place at the start of the year.
In addition, Blundstone is also releasing brand new product lines in celebration of the milestone anniversary, which will be revealed in the second half of the year. This will include a limited-edition ‘#150 Boot’ to mark the milestone along with a new premium ‘Heritage Series’ in autumn/winter 2020, inspired by its history, that the brand explains will bring together “elements of past and present through two new lace-up and elastic pull-on styles for men and women”.
Blundstone targeting expansion growth in 2020
2020 will probably also see the brand continue to expand internationally, as, over the last three years, the US market has seen a 66 percent increase year over year. This lead Blundstone to open its first first-ever brick and mortar shopping experience at a pop-up in Brooklyn along with a significant expansion among third party retailers such as Nordstrom and REI.
Expanding its retail reach is a goal for the brand, however, it notes that they have to be the right partner and those that “align with the brand’s audience”. In the next five years, it's estimated that US sales volume will be approximately four times larger than it is today, added the brand.
As Blundtone turns 150 this year, the brand explains that it is also celebrating being four times the size it was just ten years ago, and adding that by the time the brand turns 160, it is hoping to be three times larger again. Currently, the brand is available in 70 countries, with over 10,000 points of distribution.
Blundstone Fun Facts:
- Fans and the brand lovingly refer to the boots as “Blunnies”
- Someone in South Africa used their well‐loved Blundstones to grow a plant in the boot. A very rare pair of birds, Cape Wagtails, started using one of the boots as a nest. These birds travel from the Southern Hemisphere to France and Spain annually. These birds have returned seven years in a row to their same Blundstone nest
- Blundstone has reached dizzying heights and were used in an expedition to Mt Everest in 1977
- The brand’s current longest-serving staff member has been with Blundstone for 38 years
- During World War I, Blundstone was contracted by the Department of Defence to be one of the boot manufactures enlisted to shoe the Aussie soldiers. The brand helped to deliver 100,000 pairs of boots per month. During World War II it providing half a million pairs of boots to the Defence Force. The Army boot style would later become the blueprint for work boots
- Blundstone’s collaborations extend to the arts, too. In the mid- 1900s, Blundstones were re-purposed as tap shoes for the Sydney Dance Company’s Tap Dogs stage show and support continues to this day as they perform in packed theatres around the world
- In 1981, Blundstone fulfilled an order of 8,000 pairs for the Papua New Guinea police force and a Royal Australian Air Force order of 21,000 pairs
- The old Blundstone Factory in Campbell Street in Hobart was acquired by the State Government in the late 1970s and today acts as the City Courthouse
- Blundstone has always been headquartered in Tasmania, and the company has been in the exact same site for the last 40 years
- The Lumberjack safety boot, which received a design award from the Industrial Design Council of Australia, was praised for being a high left field boot featuring a nylon outsole into which are fitted high tensile steel spikes
Images: courtesy of Blundstone