Loud-mouthed liberal feminist. Anarchist knitter. Tequila-drinking artsy-smartsy fat chick. Bluesy folk-rock singer-songwriter. Rebel with too many causes. Quirky eclectic pagan poet. Paradoxical intuitive smartass. Sarcastic brainiac insomniac. You know, for starters.


Review: Boots for Broads

So, I know this is woefully late, but better late than never, yeah?

Awhile back (like, say, practically four months!), I followed a link and discovered Boots for Broads, an Australian company that sells custom-sized boots (and other footwear). At the time, the exchange rate was such that I could buy a pair of boots for around US$150, including shipping from Australia. Helluva deal, says I - and I took it!

Measurements duly taken and sent off through the interwebs, I commenced waiting on tenterhooks for the boots to arrive (took about a month). Things did not start well - when I tore into the package, the overwhelming smell of some sort of petrochemical immediately made my eyes water and my nose run. Then I pulled out the boots and tried them on....which did not go well. The calf was too tight, the foot was almost comically big.

Great, I thought. I spent $150 on fucking clown boots!

Additionally, I noticed that the customs label listed the country of origin of goods as Vietnam. Say what? I thought these were handmade in Australia, where I felt there might be a chance they were *not* made by sweatshop labor.

The bad feelings, they just kept on coming.

So, I waited a couple days to calm down, then got in touch with the company. They had a money-back guarantee, and so I explained my concerns - the smell, the origin, the non-fitting part. They were actually very understanding and helpful, and explained that the smell came from the glue used in the soles (which would fade quickly once the boots were aired out a bit), that they worked with a small family business in Vietnam to manufacture the boots (and would post this to their website to make it clear that it was not a sweatshop), and that they'd happily send me a refund or a new pair of boots.

I was still a little dubious, but the odds of me finding custom-sized boots for this price ever again led me to go ahead and return the boots, and to re-send my measurements in the hopes of a better-fitting pair.

Six weeks or so later, the new pair arrived. The smell still overwhelmed. The boots, however, fit. I tried them on, walked around in them a bit, and they fit. They weren't as cute as they seemed on the website, but they fit and weren't hideous. I decided to keep them.

Over the next few weeks, I wore them a couple days a week (I love boots and skirts, man, and with spring creeping slowly in, I wanted to get them in as much as possible before it was too warm for boots!). The fit continued to be great. The smell faded a lot, but never left entirely (in fact, still hasn't disappeared).

Less than three or four days in, though, I noticed something awful: the tread started coming off the sole. I assume this is part of what the horrid stinking glue was supposed to hold together...and it was clearly not doing so. In fact, I've had to glue it back on in several places on each boot at this point. Eventually, I suspect I'll just get them re-soled and be done with it.

At the end of the day, even paying $150 and the additional cost of re-soling the boots is still probably a better deal on custom boots for my giant feet and calves than I'm likely to find many places. Short of learning to make my own boots, this is probably the best I'm gonna do, and it's not all that bad. But it certainly has been a freakin' hassle from Hell, and I'm not perfectly pleased with the product.

I don't want to trash Boots for Broads, as I suspect mine is not a typical experience, and I found them very nice and helpful and accomodating, and that their product, even if imperfect, is still something that fills a huge void for people who have trouble finding boots that fit their feet, ankles, and calves. I don't find it to be much more of a compromise than I wind up making with other boots I've bought that don't *quite* fit, but I can make work with a little finagling.

And, at the end of the day, I'm pleased enough that I can see a time in the future where I'll order another pair of boots from them (red boots = yay!). So, you know, I guess I recommend with caveats.

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