Introduction to Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boots
In 1981 something rather incredible happened, the Vivienne Westwood pirate boot was born! Westwood designed the boots as part of her Pirates collection see below.
Though this is not the reason why you can buy pirate boots today, as they soon went out of production. In fact you can thank Kate Moss for the pair of modern pirate boots you are wearing today. Kate stepped out in a vintage pair from Rellik in 1999 and due to the phenomena know as the ‘Moss’ effect, caused such a high demand for them Rellik was receiving 50 enquiries a week. Hence the boots went back into production and are now one of the most highly sought after fashion classics.
Floral version from S/S11
Cuban heeled and stiletto heel, images from eBay
I am sure you are aware these boots don’t come cheap at £370 (price correct as of May 2013), worth every penny as they are handmade and beautiful quality, but still very expensive. I know many people have tried seeking out a pair on eBay, which is a great option but unfortunately there are many counterfeit / fake pairs. By this I do not mean boots in a similar style such as ones from Topshop or Office for example, but one which are branded Vivienne Westwood but were not in fact produced by the brand. Counterfeit goods are not only illegal but are also very badly made and in some cases dangerous. My guides on spotting fake Chanel and Louis Vuitton have been very popular and I know have helped a lot of people, so after a few emails on pirate boots I decided to write this one.
I should also mention that fakes are not just sold on eBay, but also on websites which look like the real deal. The only websites licensed to sell the Gold Label pirate boots in the UK is http://www.viviennewestwood.co.uk/ (.com if you are international), the Accessories boots are available on other designer websites which stock Anglomania clothing such as net-a-porter but as the boots are seasonal the stockist can change. The best advice I can give is only use a website you are familiar with, that has a clear ‘about us’ policy and holds a secure server. Also if the price is too good to be true, it usually is!
Gold Label Pirate Boots
These are my new Gold Label Vivienne Westwood pirate boots, as you can see they are very soft suede this is why they slouch down so easily. Note the very, very pale colour of the straps. This is how all untreated leather should look, over time it will darken to a honey / tan colour as the natural leather oxidises. This is the same thing which occurs on Louis Vuitton bags. All the images of the genuine boots are my own.
The Gold Label boots come in a cream box with gold embossed lettering.
Inside you will receive ONE soft felt cloth dust bag, with a gold string and gold lettering. If there is tissue paper in the box it will be pale pink with gold orbs.
The toe piece (vamp) on the Gold label is wider than on the Accessories label.
The boots slouch as they do not have a supportive strip on the back of the boot – unlike the Accessories label ones which we will see later. The first strap and the fourth strap will go right around the boot, whilst the second and third strap go half way, the fifth strap goes around the foot.
The heel is made from a wooden piece with 3 separate layers, topped with a piece of rubber, the rubber piece goes right across the heel – unlike the Accessories boots, see later. I should also note that once the rubber section gets worn down you should have the boots re-heeled, once you get to the wooden section the heel will be irreparable.
The buckles are silver, also note the very tiny and neat stitching.
As the straps are natural leather they will be nubuck (suede) on the reverse.
Inside the boots are padded on the sole and embossed in gold writing.
The sole of the boot will also be embossed in gold, here you can also see the whole rubber heel. The square mark is where the materials sticker was removed, and the little circle the size sticker. These stickers are transparent plastic with gold writing, the square sticker will have three shoe symbols representing the outer, inner and sole then each has the leather mark next to it to show that the entire boot is made from leather. The little round size sticker will have the size in UK sizes e.g 4, 5, 6 and not European sizes e.g 37, 38, 39. The soles of the boots are also leather, it has a thin layer with a slight sheen to it which will wear off after the first wear. When the sole gets very worn and starts to look thin it should be covered with a rubber sole to protect it. Rubber soles can also be added prior to wear to make them wearable in the rain and also prevent the leather sole wearing, it also gives the sole grip. I have the rubber soles added on new shoes if they need grip, otherwise I wait until they need reheeling and get them reheeled and resoled at the same time.
Timpsons does a free reheel if you pay for the sole. I find Timpsons are great for all reheeling except for the Vivienne Westwood Gold Label low heeled shoes, those I take to Jones the Bootmaker as they make sure the new heel is correctly balanced. Unbalancing occurs when the new heel tip is thicker, and thus higher, than the old one and the VW shoes have a much thinner tip that the standard heel tips Timpsons use. Whilst we are onto care tips Office brand suede spray is the best brand I have found, as it sprays dry so you don’t get any spotting which can happen with some sprays.
Accessories Label Pirate Boots
Now we can look at the Accessories Label pirate boots. Here is the box, as you can see it is twice the size of the Gold label boots! It will be in coated silver card with gold lettering saying ‘Vivienne Westwood Accessories’.
Here are the black with tan straps and the all black versions (these aren’t mine, wish they were). The toe is rounder and narrower, they are taller and they have a leather strip along the back. The straps are originally slightly darker than the Gold label boots, but these here have also naturally darkened – you can get them to darken faster if you massage them with clear leather beeswax polish or teabags for a darker stain.
The back strip will be embossed ‘Vivienne Westwood’
The buckles are silver and again note the neat stitching.
The soles are leather but will have a slight sheen from the coating, this will wear off after first wear. The heel is different as it only has a section which is rubber, it will be embossed with ‘Vivienne Westwood’, ‘Made in Italy’, the size in European sizes and the orb logo.
How to spot FAKE Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boots, by comparison
Spotting Fake Bondage Boots
Just let me know if there is anything else you want to know,
hope this was helpful,
Watch my companion video to the guide on Youtube
You can now download my FREE eBook ‘A Guide to Spotting Counterfeits: including Chanel 2.55, Louis Vuitton scarves and Vivienne Westwood Pirate & clothes’ HERE
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38 Responses to Vivienne Westwood Pirate Boots: History & How to Spot Fakes
Really interesting post!
Oh! to own a pair of pirate boots. Oh! to own any Viv footwear. Yum!
Just a little note – it’s not Margherita Missoni in the photo, it’s Bianca Brandolini
What a fabulously written post, Pearl! I love those black Pirates you’re wearing and those bottom ones are just fantastic. The ones above look so cheap and tacky by comparison. xxx
PS We should arrange a date when we both watch the DVD and compare notes.
Thanks, I must admit that now a pair of pirate boots is now at the top of my list for my 40th birthday pressies (my favourite being the cuban heel), all thanks to your posts, You should really be working for Vivienne Westwood! I found it really interesting on the comparison with the fakes, I know of someone who has bought ‘Jimmy Choos’ and ‘Louboutins’ from China and I haven’t the heart to tell them that they’ve spent a few hundred quid on fakes which they geneuinely believe are the real deal. xx
@ Ginta – Gosh you’re right!! Don’t they look alike! Thanks will go edit that x
@ Vix that is a great idea! I may have to watch it on my laptop in bed, with 8 dogs I never get to watch a film all in one go!
@ CameronPoe – That is what breaks my heart, I mean if you are knowingly buying fakes (and contributing to people trafficing, child labour, drug dealing) then whatever, but when people are fooled into it thats just awful, especially as you point out they are still paying near enough the price of a genuine pair!
Fascinating post Pearl. x
brilliant post, I have always wanted a pair of VW boots, ever since I first saw the Pirates collection way back when I was about 11! After all I was, and still am, a massive Adam Ant fan which has obviously influenced alot of what I like! I’ve blogged about it before and your post has made me thing that I will dare to spend some money I recently got on a pair of my very own VW’s!! I might have to run some ideas past you Pearl.x
Fantastic boots, and fantastic tips Pearl.
Today I saw on todays news that there is a new mobil phone coming to the market that will spot a fake item of clothing…
Wait and see.
I’m so glad you are sharing this with us.
OOoooh, what a gorgeous post! I have a Viv boots, Bondage…J’adore! All in black and unique…
You are the queen of pirate boots. Just think when you were born I’d saved up my pocket money to buy similar ones cheapy ones from Kings Rd market!
Great post Pearl – I just got a pair of all black suede pirates from the Accessories label and will be returning again to this post again! Thanks for the invaluable care tips. You’re right, they are very narrow but I couldn’t bare to part with them – do you think getting a cobbler to stretch the suede a bit would ruin them?
Fabulous post. I still have the cuban heeled boots (like Keira), but have moved on my red patent pair and my rubbish print pair. They are the most comfy, versatile pair of boots that I own and just get better with age.
That being said, I wouldn’t say no to a new flat pair!
@Veshoeius – you know I would definately go and ask, Ive had vintage boots stretched out before which worked very well. I never thought to try!
@ Pooka – its funny isn’t how you just go off things, Ive had black suede and white cuban ones in the past and you just want a change after a while I find.
Hi my dear-a really fabulous post, congratulations on your latest purchase and I am so coveting a pair now, they really are such an awesome fabulous boot, whatever colourway or style you go for! xx
Great post Pearl. The difference between the real and fake is so noticeable when you directly compare the photos but it’s easy to see how people might be fooled if they don’t know exactly what the real deal looks like.
Yes it was very helpful thank you! So helpful that I might have to sell my car to buy a pair of both Gold Label and Accessories boots in all colours;))).
I love posts that give heaps of detail shots of highly-covetable goodies – thank you so much!!! xo
You sure your Ph.D. was not in fashion?? Thank you for schooling me. As always you’re full of knowledge!
I adore these boots! getting obsessed over them! haha
Bloody fascinating!!! Jeez,I thought there were suddenly a lot more of those around! I quite like the Accessories version.Nice. Viv does lovely footwear,she really does.Not that I could ever afford it! The only pair of Vic’s I’ve seen in NZ are the vintage Pirate boots that Alannah from the Thompson Twins owns!
Great research,love!Appreciate it!
cool boots. don’t know if I could pull them off as well as you
LOVE THIS POST ! I really want a vintage pair as the toe shape is more of an almond shape compared to the new version also the buckles aren’t square and more rounded like the pair which Kate Moss or Sienna wears, I found a pair in Rellik but not only they were not the right size the asking price was £648 !!!!
Vivienne westwood mens pirate boots for sale (the vintage leather ones) in dark brown leather size 10/11 any interest email me firstname.lastname@example.org thanks
thank you so much for you post!! I have a question: Are these boots on hervia.com (the grey suede ones) the gold label or the accessories label? because i want to weare them like sienna miller did, so i want gold label boots. I think i have to fly to UK for this boots, here in switzerland you have no chance to buy them…
@ Anon – Hi, Yes the hervia.com grey suede are the ones I have also, the same as Sienna, they are the Gold Label ones. Hervia also post internationally so you can buy them online x
Here is the international postage info for hervia.com http://www.hervia.com/delivery-returns-i17
thank you very much for your help! Yes i know that they deliver also to switzerland. but the problem is that the customs duties are so expensive… with this money i can take a flight to london
Do you know if this site sells real VWs? http://www.viviennewestwood-store.com/
@ Maggie – NO viviennewestwood-store.com IT IS NOT A GENUINE SITE!! Only Hervia.com and viviennewestwood.co.uk are official Westwood sites selling the gold label pirate boots. There are a few genuine online stores selling Anglomania and Melissa ranges such as Blueberries, My Theresa, Net a Porter etc.
Hiii Pearl I m so excited I got my own pair of black leather one now!!! But its been almost 1 week n its sitting in my closet. I am not sure what kind of sole I should have the on the bottom of the shoe. I have never been to a cobbler in my life What should I do? And does the boots feel very fitting w/out socks or leggings, is normal right? this is my first time buying such an expensive shoe, i can;t wait till the leather strap turns to yellowish brown…. THANKS AGAIN
@Maggie – Hi I am so excited for you!!! I didn’t get rubber soles put on my new grey suede pirate boots as they will only be worn for summer really and you can always have soles added when they are looking a bit worn. I know Tipmsons do an offer when you take them to be re-heeled and re-soled. If you look at this post: http://fashionpearlsofwisdom.blogspot.com/2010/01/bootlylicious-tips-on-caring-for-new.html it shows the rubber soles look like on a pair of my Viv heels. If you ask your cobbler for a ‘thin rubber sole’ they should know what you mean. They soles are what you need if you will wear them in the rain for sure.
The boots are a fairly narrow fit but they should be comfortable with a thin pair of socks – I covered my feet in plasters (band-aids) the first couple of times I wore them to stop blisters and thy are fine now. If they are too tight cobblers can stretch them out a bit too to save you wearing them in. Im not sure where you are located but in Manchester Cravens, Jones the Bootmaker and Timpsons King st are all used to dealing with designer shoes. If you want the straps to yellow faster just keep polishing them with a beeswax leather polish xx
hey there! do you know in which store i can buy the pirate boots “grey suede” from the Gold Label in London? my dad will fly to London and will buy me this boots, but he doesn’t have time in his business trip to go in each shop to search them… is the shop in the 6 Davies Street ok? i am happy for any tips… and i have another question: is the size 7.5 wright if i wear 41 in european size? or is the shoe smaller/bigger? i mean, did you buy it a size smaller or larger than normally? i havo no chance to try them on and see if they fit, so it’s important that my dad will buy the wright size… thank’s for any help!! greets from switzerland, Fabienne
@ Fabienne – Hi, I would go to Conduit Street store first as it is the largest and most likely to have the stock. What I would do is phone the store first and ask for the manager, explain that your dad will be coming form Switzerland for then and ask them to hold a pair for you. It is best to do this as they do not stock every size and if they have to be made for you it can take upto 10 weeks. Personally I find the boots fit true to size if not large in the length, but they are a fairly narrow fit and do take some wearing in. I am usually a 38.5 but take a 38 in Westwood shoes, in smaller designer shoes like Chanel I have to take a 39. The sizes are in UK sizes so a 41 is UK 8 they don’t do half sizes unfortunately. Hope this helps!
Oh I forgot here is the store details:
Vivienne Westwood Flagship
44 Conduit St
t: +44 (0)207 439 1109