Off she goes, Iain Oughtred's slightly foreshortened Penny Fee, at 15ft. Sails by Jeckells, spars by the wonderful Jeremy Freeland at Collars. The rest by Messrs Burke and Morgan (that's Jonny by the way...)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A Load of Old Cobblers...?

I have an old pair of Dubarry leather boots, which are past their best, and leaking badly. They have served me well and once, on the foreshore of a Caribbean island I was offered the entire contents of a fruit stall (and the rights to the business) by a rasta smoking a suspicious looking roll-up.

I like the idea of wearing a pair of boots hand crafted by some time-served bootmakers in Ballinasloe, County Galway, "shoe and boot makers since 1937". No wonder they are so expensive; labour even in the recession-hit Irish Republic cannot be cheap. These ones are 200 quid...

Then I had a thought: maybe they are not made in Ireland? What does "For over 70 years Dubarry has been associated with producing high quality footwear..." suggest to you? Associated? Does that mean boot making, or does it mean an association with boot making.  And  producing  is that the same as "making"? If I imported my boats from abroad, would I still be "producing" them?

I re-read the words, and detected a note of uncertainty. Heaven forbid they should be made anywhere other than in cosy little cobblers' shops in Galway? Maybe "for over 70 years" does mean what it says: that boot making in Ireland began in 1937 and stopped soon after 2007. My old boots were made around 2000, in Ireland I assume. Where would my new boots be made, then?

Call me cynical, but I have my suspicions. Just wish manufacturers could be up front.  Where do Prada make their bags, or Gucci their watches or Louis Vuitton their trunks? Possibly in little artisan shops in the backwaters of Paris, perhaps not. Who cares. Well I do, not so much about quality (the Far East produces fantastic quality) but I do care about honesty. If Dubarry boots are not made in Ireland these days I would like to know, and dispel my suspicions that they are now simply "associated" with boot making.

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