I am looking forward to doing more reviews on my blog this season, as I’m the type of person who loves to read reviews of products before purchasing. I’m also a super budget buyer so if you’re looking for deals, I’m your girl; I never shell out for the expensive stuff.
Let’s dive right into this one! These are the Mondoni Aspen boots from Divoza Horseworld, an online tack store in The Netherlands.
I had been hunting for
decades months for a brown tall boot that I could wear as a daily “lifestyle” boot after I discovered the exquisite (and wrenchingly expensive) Regina boots by Fairfax & Favor, over which I thirsted for many weeks before accepting that my wallet could not justify that kind of price. Especially because the conversion from GBP to CAD is absolutely brutal. My size is also never in stock apparently, which is probably for the best because then I had no other option but to accept my fate as a non-owner of Fairfax boots.
My tall boot search was greatly hindered by my height of 5’9 and my acclimatization to riding boots which fit nice and tall; most fashion boots fit a lot shorter (like 14-16″) and those just make my muscular calves look enormous. I wanted something at least 17″ tall, brown, no heel, simple design and doesn’t cost the equivalent of my left kidney. Major points if it had tassels. I literally spent months hunting on every site I could find, checking all the local shops, to no avail – everything was less than 16″ tall and/or had a heel. It was a dark time in my life.
I first discovered the Mondoni brand when I bought a pair of used tall boots off a Facebook horsey buy/sell page, because I’d given up finding something online and figured these would be as close as I could get to my Unicorn Boot. They were too big in the foot, and slightly different colours (from sun exposure maybe? Who knows) but I was exhausted from hunting. I went online to see what I could find out about the brand as far as retail value, reviews, etc. and as I was scrolling through their online selection, the Aspen boots revealed themselves in all of their glory.
I’ll skip the part of the story about my elation and trepidation, but including shipping to Canada they cost me a total of $285 CAD. I was willing to extend my fragile budget up to $250 in order to get a pair that I loved, which was a success except for the $30 duty fee which I forgot about and was dinged with when it arrived.
Shipping was quite quick for what I expected from Europe, I think they arrived in about a week. I literally gasped when I opened the box and saw them for the first time. They were basically everything that I had been hunting for.
The full grain leather wasn’t as orangey as the online photo suggests; it is the colour of milk chocolate and I’m pretty sure I had literal heart-eyes when I peeled back the packaging. The leather definitely looked on the fragile side, like it would scuff really easily. I pulled them out and they felt super soft and more durable than I originally thought, and as beautiful as they looked. To my surprise, I discovered that the entire boot is lined with sherpa, which I obviously did not notice when ordering online. I had mixed feelings about this, since I was hoping to wear them through spring and fall and had concerns that they might be too warm. There is a stretch panel with elastic in the back which is always a yay for my calves, and a really adorable button closure at the top of the zipper. The sole is rubber and very sturdy.
I was anxious about the size, since I can wear anything from a US 8 – 9.5 depending on the brand. I ordered a 39R which comes with a height of 18.5″ and a calf width of 14.2″ (my calf generally measures in at 14.5″ so I was biting my nails). The foot bed is actually about half a size too big, but the calf fits nice and snug with the elastic panel; as much as I’d prefer a more snug-fitting foot, I could never squish into the calf of the next size down. I have a pair of Ovation paddock boots in a size 39 which fit me like a glove, so clearly Europeans have the same problem as North Americans where sizes are totally different across brands.
I immediately applied leather conditioner and waterproofing from Nikwax because these were going to be my “dailies” through the rain of winter and spring in Vancouver, BC. It turns out that they are already super waterproof without it, but I felt better being extra careful. I also had my heart set on having a pair of boots with tassels, because Fairfax ruined me, so I marched off to the nearest Michael’s craft store to make my dream come true. High five, crafty self!
So I’ve had the boots for 4 months now and can speak more to their longevity. As far as the leather goes, yes it does scuff very easily but it rubs out just as easily with some leather oil or conditioner, which leaves them a beautiful rich, chocolatey brown. Here they are after a few weeks of no conditioner:
As far as fit goes, they are quite loose through the ankle on me (did I mention my calves) and have “fallen” a bit, and they give me very minor rubs around my upper heels but only if I walk for extended periods in them. The leather is soft but the structure of the boot is still to be fully broken in; they feel firm without being uncomfortably stiff, which leaves me hopeful that they won’t drop or sag much. The sherpa lining is wonderful for cold winter days, but can be warm when our weather fluctuates into spring; wearing a thinner sock helps but the foot bed is still too large for me. I’ve been meaning to try a liner to fill space but keep forgetting! The height of the shaft is perfect for me and the sole is extremely sturdy with great grip during the winter months.
The leather strips over the elastic panel have some fraying and cracking but that appears to be inevitable based on the way they’re attached. It’s negligible to me TBH.
Overall I love these boots. They’re beautiful and almost exactly what I was looking for at something like less than half the price of the Fairfaxes. I would call them very comparable to the Fairfax Imperial Explorer which appear more sturdy than the Reginas. Considering that you can pay $250 for a pair of fashion boots at a department store that are way less durable, I’m pretty chuffed with this purchase. I do wish they didn’t have sherpa, but whatever. They’re tall, sturdy, waterproof and gorgeous. And I can interchange my tassel colours so basically I’ve won at life.
**I’m editing this to add that I went onto Divoza’s website again today and discovered that their shipping prices to Canada and the US has gone up to 75 euros standard rate, which is the equivalent of $113 CAD! Unfortunately nothing could justify me ever spending that much on shipping, so I’ll have to quit drooling over their bridles. Those of you shopping from Europe or the UK won’t have that same price to worry about, you lucky dogs.