Flemish family business now makes these popular British rain boots. “Much more than a fashion item” | Nina


The green wellies with a frog face, Wellipets or Wellies, were a hit with British children for a long time. Even the little princes Harry and William wore them in the 80s. But when the British owner of the cult brand retired in 2005, production stopped.

About three years ago, Alain De Vreese from the Flemish leather and shoe company Diffumo from Aalter was given the opportunity to buy Wellipets. And he didn’t pass it up, even though it was a big risk and investment. Now the green rain boots in the shape of a frog have become an indispensable part of the fashion scene, much to the surprise of the new Belgian owners.

The little princes Harry and William in 1987. © Julian Parker/UK Press via Getty Images

“The frog boots are a nod to our wonderful childhood”

At the end of 2023 or the beginning of 2024, they plan to launch an adult version of the beloved children’s boots on the market, says Vincent De Vreese (26), the son of the manager. A project that has been going on for almost a year. And that did not go unnoticed. “Our boots have also been booming in Belgium for a few days now, thanks to the extra media attention,” he says.

“Our mission was to evoke those nice, rosy thoughts from childhood in people. The frog boots are therefore a nod to the playfulness of being a child, but elevated to the world of an adult.” The price tag? “About 180 to 200 euros.”

Left: Vincent De Vreese from Wellipets with the frog boots for adults. © Christophe De Muynck / Wellipets

There are already tens of thousands of candidates, says De Vreese. The nostalgic British in particular are already eagerly queuing. So you’ll have to wait a few months to get your hands on a pair. In the meantime, the British can admire the boots in London’s Victoria & Albert fashion museum.

But rain boots are also very popular among fashionistas in Asia, America, France and Italy. Designer Jonathan Anderson, creative director at Loewe and owner of his fashion label JW Anderson, has something to do with that.

“Anderson draws a lot of inspiration from Great Britain’s heritage,” says fashion editor David Devriendt. The boots reminded the Irishman of his own childhood. “He also likes to design footwear for Loewe that is a bit out of the box. This is how the frog clogs came into existence clogs in yellow, blue and green. We saw them during the Milan fashion weeks at the beginning of this year. And that put Wellipets back on the radar of adults and the biggest celebrities in the world.” Although you pay 395 euros for such a pair.

JW Anderson clogs.
JW Anderson clogs. © Getty Images

“The list of celebs who are fans is almost too long to mention,” says Vincent De Vreese. “From ASAP Rocky, Rihanna’s husband, to models Emily Ratajkowski, Alexa Chung and Bella and Gigi Hadid. Even singer and creative director of Louis Vuitton, Pharrell Williams and Romeo Beckham, the son of Victoria and David Beckham, have a pair.”

Revolutionary ugly shoe with a fun and comfy side

“In the past, such boots were anything but cool and for a long time only for children. Yet it is a classic in British or European history and brought about a whole evolution,” says our fashion editor. “At that time, farmers wore clogs in the countryside, but thanks to the rubber boots their feet stayed cleaner and drier in the mud.”

Trendy rubber boots from Chanel (left) and Dorothee Schumacher (right).
Trendy rubber boots from Chanel (left) and Dorothee Schumacher (right). © Getty Images

“Now the rubber boat is really on the rise. Or yes, outdoor clothing in general,” he says. “For example, Maison Margiela is now releasing a Wellington boot with the tabi, the split toe. It has now become a real winter classic, a must for a weekend in the Ardennes. But such a shoe is also perfectly suitable for festivals. From a coffee bar to a day in the city: celebs now wear it with all outfits and for all kinds of occasions.”

This content contains cookies from social media or other external platforms. Because you have disabled these cookies, this content remains hidden. Accept cookies from social media to still display the content.

“Wellipets gave the iconic British boot a playful touch with its frog eyes. The mouth and logo are still hand-painted in Italy. In addition, they are made from recyclable material and part of the revenue goes to supporting the natural habitat of the frogs and their population. The boots are therefore not only a playful and comfortable fashion item, but a high-quality, sustainable and artisanal product. They fit so completely into our society.” That also only contributes to their popularity.

This is how you style them

Is it really beautiful? Opinions are divided on this, says Devriendt. “It fits perfectly within the ugly shoetrend of recent times. Think of the success of the Crocs and the cartoon boots. All designers used to focus on silhouettes and clothing, but now shoes and accessories are just as important. You definitely look twice when you see someone with boots like that.”

This content contains cookies from social media or other external platforms. Because you have disabled these cookies, this content remains hidden. Accept cookies from social media to still display the content.

So how do you wear these iconic boots? “A bit like those other ‘ugly’ shoes,” says the fashion editor. “That can be worn under jeans, a skirt or even dungarees. Or just under a long coat as JW Anderson shows.”

“Also consider the ‘wrong shoe theory’ that lives on TikTok, a simple fashion trick where you wear shoes that don’t match the rest of your outfit. For example, you can make your classic suit funky by wearing boots like this underneath. In the meantime, the theory has already been extended to: wrong coats, wrong everything.”

Also read:

Free unlimited access to Showbytes? Which can!

Log in or create an account and never miss anything from the stars.

Yes, I want free unlimited access

The article is in Dutch

Tags: Flemish family business popular British rain boots fashion item Nina


NEXT Fashion designer Jan-Jan Van Essche wins jury prize of Belgian Fashion Awards 2023 | Domestic