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I’ve owned these fast fashion boots for nearly 10 years, this is why they’ve lasted the distance

words by cait emma burke

Loved boots last.

I’m an unfortunately fussy shopper. It’s something my friends and family lament – if you’re shopping with me, you’re going to witness me agonising over a decision. Often I go back and forth between stores that have virtually the identical striped button-up until I decide on the shirt that feels the most ‘me’. A slightly too short sleeve or the wrong button placement is enough to put me off. A bit neurotic, yes, but sometimes it really pays off.

Case in point: I spent years searching for the right pair of ankle boots. I was under the impression I’d need to drop at least a few hundred on a brand that made them their bread and butter in order to get a pair that would last the distance, like Dr. Martens or R.M. Williams. But nearly a decade ago, an unassuming pair in a bustling Topshop on Oxford Street in London caught my eye.


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They were slightly unusual, and maybe not exactly the boot I had in mind, but there was something memorable about them. Made out of black, patent-looking leather and adorned with an almost sparkly, reptile-like pattern, they weren’t the most conventional choice. But they had a fun loafer-like look about them – sort of like a less chunky version of a Loewe loafer boot – and the heel height was perfect (tick). So was the ankle-length (another tick) and they felt more comfortable than any other ankle boot I’d tried (three for three!).

But aside from all of these factors, they just seemed very me – as I mentioned, they were a bit unusual (thanks to their shininess and ankle-boot-meets-loafer flair) but simultaneously had something very classic about them. And that’s how I’d probably sum up the core of my style.

I have a longstanding love of timeless items thanks to years spent working with secondhand clothing (think striped shirts, vintage Levi’s, bomber jackets and tailored pants) and a penchant for mixing them up with more eclectic styles (zany printed long sleeve meshes are layered under slinky dresses and worn over pants, and a lilac macrame style dress is paired with silky Adidas trackpants).

Of course, in my usual fashion, I ruminated at length over the decision before purchasing. I’d probably tried on over 50 pairs of boots by this point, and I’d been living in London for a month. The weather was absurdly cold and my Docs and Adidas sneakers had taken a pounding – a good pair of boots was fast becoming a necessity. After two weeks of these boots keeping me up at night, I bit the bullet.

And so, the boots and I unassumingly entered what turned out to be one of the longest relationships of my life. They took me all over Europe in my early twenties, were worn to too many job interviews to count, have definitely been puked on, and survived numerous subpar dates – I even walked part of the Great Wall of China in these babies.

 

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A post shared by Cait Burke (@caitemmaburke)

And while I don’t wear them on constant rotation, they are an item I’ve never even considered parting with. Yes, they’re a fast fashion purchase, and 28-year-old me in 2022 would try her very best to only buy shoes either secondhand or from a sustainable label. But they’re proof that loved items last (even when they probably weren’t intended to). I put this down to a few things.

Firstly, I didn’t make an impulse decision. I shopped around like an absolute madwoman, and I tossed and turned for weeks, weighing up whether these boots really were the one for me. Social media encourages us to add to cart without a second thought, but often you’ll find that if you revisit an item a few weeks later, you don’t want it nearly half as much. And if you do, then that’s a sign you may actually get a good amount of wear out of it.

Secondly, take note of the materials the item is made out of and its style. Is it made of poor quality fabric with stitching that looks like it won’t last beyond a season? Then it’s a hard pass. Is it too tied up in the trend cycle? Again, it’s a hard pass (you can almost always find a version of trend-based pieces in secondhand stores, anyway). My Topshop boots were well made and they weren’t overly trendy, but they weren’t un-trendy either – they were memorable and interesting, but regular enough that nearly a decade later, they haven’t dated.

I say all this because fast fashion is popular for a reason. And as much as we harp on about ‘slow’ and ‘sustainable’ fashion, its uber-fast counterpart isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s accessible and affordable, which makes it a go-to for millions of customers who are priced out of the ethical fashion space.

But if you find something that’s quintessentially you, slow down the purchasing process, and consider how many times you’ll wear an item and whether it’s made to last, then these items can remain in your wardrobe for years to come. So no, it wasn’t love at first sight for me and the boots. But, just like people, often it’s the ones you least expect that end up playing a prominent role in your life (or in this case, my wardrobe).

For more on making your fast fashion purchases last, try this.

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