Marathon gumboots

"If it weren’t for your gumboots, were would you be, sang Fred Dagg in 1976. The satirical Kiwi bloke wore a mismatched pair of Marathon gumboots that are now part the Te Papa collection. Skellerup’s footwear business grew from Marathon Rubber Footwear Limited, formed in Christchurch by Danish-Australian George Skellerup in 1939. Initially Skellerup produced tennis shoes, however, they expanded their production to footwear and civilian gas masks, to aid the war effort. In 1943, Skellerup secured the services of a Canadian footwear expert, who extended manufacturing to waterproof footwear. Soon after, New Zealand’s first original tall gumboot, the Marathon, was produced. It was named after the company and later remodelled and renamed the Perth. It's estimated that Skellerup was supplying
 60% of New Zealand’s total footwear requirements in the 1980s. The company produced 25,000 shoes daily, employed around 700 people operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. But major and rapid economic changes led to the closure of the Skellerup footwear factory and forced production off-shore. Today Skellerup owns and operates its gumboot manufacturing plant in Jiangsu, China. Read more about wearing the colour black in the New Zealand Fashion Museum publication Black: The history of black in fashion, society and culture in New Zealand.


Credit: Image from Te Ao Hou, September 1959
Copyright: Image © Skellerup
Copyright: Image © unknown
Material: Natural rubber, cotton canvas
Colour: Black
Label: Skellerup Perth
Date: 1943