Inspiration — then, now and always... The iconic brand of the '80s is back but with a completely new take on unleashing true creativity….
Designed back in 1981 by the late Brian McFall in Christchurch, New Zealand. You may (or may not!) remember that Commando-M’s originally came in black or white, 100% canvas with a PVC injected sole. Ever wondered how they got their name? Well it’s not as you might have thought! They were originally supplied to the army and to this day, they still feature the iconic ‘M’ on the side of every shoe, which represents ‘Marathon Rubber Footwear Limited’, the company founded back in 1939 by George Waldermar Skellerup, original owner of Skellerup Footwear. Talk about finding your roots!
Commando-M’s passion for unique personal style has been there since birth. The ‘80s saw the release of limited edition ranges as well as customised shoes catering to individual’s needs. Paula Ryan, one of New Zealand's leading fashion consultants even gave fashion advice on the upcoming seasonal colours ensuring customers were on trend. The release of the Doodle Shoes meant that right from the beginning, you could wear ‘your shoes, your way’.
At its peak, 700 pairs of Commando-M’s were produced from the Woolston factory daily, but this wasn’t to last as overseas manufacturing took over and import regulations were laxed which meant making shoes locally was bloody tough! So sadly, Commando-M’s were phased out.
However, this wasn’t to be the last we'd see of the iconic kiwi brand, oh no no!
Fast forward approximately 20 years to Kris and Sarah Webster who realised there was more to Sandford Industries 2010 Ltd than just gumboots when they took it over in 2011! Whilst gumboots were their initial focus, this acquisition included moulds for Commando-M shoes and so it was their dream to relive their youth and bring back the iconic Kiwi Brand of ‘Commando-M’ to the world!
But, this dream was not to come without its challenges! Just 32 working days after their taking over the company, their Woolston based headquarters was destroyed in the Christchurch Earthquake of February 2011. Kris and Sarah were determined not to let Mother Nature ruin their dream, so with the help of their dedicated staff, machines were salvaged and a new factory was set up across town in Wigram. Production had resumed within 90 days! The team’s sheer determination (or call it pure stubbornness!) did not go unnoticed. Sandford Industries received the prestigious '2011 Champion Canterbury Award of Resilience' for beating the odds for earthquake survival, not bad for what they thought was just a ‘little old’ gumboot factory!
So with fancy new premises, it was time for a fresh outlook – the timing was right to bring back Commando-M’s, better than ever to inspire others.
BUT WAIT......the story continues........