Polish skinhead boots in the 1980s

rumuny

What you see here is the type of boot widely worn by Polish skinheads and punks in the 1980s due to the unavailability of Dr Martens. They were referred to as ‘glany rumunskie’ (Romanian boots) or simply ‘rumuny’ (Romanians) since they were produced in Romania for Nicolae Ceausescu’s notorious Securitate police units. However, they were also imported by the government of the People’s Republic of Poland and handed out to bus drivers, plumbers and workers in some factories. You could not buy them in shops, but had to know somebody who had access to a work clothes warehouse and would sell you a pair illegally – or swap it for 1-2 bottles of vodka. Occasionally, you might find a used pair sold in a street market.

What made them an attractive choice for skinheads and punks was their height and slim, narrow profile, which approximated the look of 10-12 eye Dr Martens – as opposed to Polish army or work boots, which were clunkier. ‘Rumuny’ were only available in black and had 10 eyelets. The toe caps weren’t made of steel, but consisted of an additional layer of thick leather. Apparently, you had to go through a few weeks of torture to break these boots in, but they were supremely comfortable thereafter.

The moment the borders opened, everybody traveled to Berlin to get their pair of DMs, and from the early 90s onward the ‘rumuny’ of old were discarded along with other vestiges of the past. However, it only took a decade or so until they became a sought after rarity. From what I gather, some were auctioned for hefty sums on Polish eBay by the mid-2000s.

Considering that many hundreds (or thousands?) of Polish skinheads, punks and workers wore ‘rumuny’ in the 80s, it’s incredible how hard they are to come by today. Indeed, it’s difficult to find photos of them on the web – see below for a proud owner showing off his pair.

glany

Matt Crombieboy

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3 thoughts on “Polish skinhead boots in the 1980s

  1. From the photo’s available here, they look 99% identical to the older IDF boots that were issued from the 1960’s (perhaps a bit earlier) up to approx. 2000. The IDF ones include on the boot’s collar one Hebrew letter and a number (in perforated form) and a dog tag compartment on the other side (facing the other boot), but the distance between the two lines of stiches on the toe cap border is smaller on them.
    Last week I found a pair of boots that look like those Romanian ones in the municipal market where I reside in Israel, which was offered for $US 8 (apparently the rate cannot go lower)… but I did not have enough cash on me and I intend to buy them tomorrow (if the merchant will show up there again as he said he would).

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    • Actually, they look like US Army Corcoran Jump boots. The same types I wore in my Army and which I still have.
      I also have a pair of Romanians as well. Bought for $5 from a merchant in Dohuk, Iraqi Kurdistan. They had several pairs available… in black and a sort of ox blood shade. They apparently issued to or purchased by Iraqi officers.
      You’re right about the breaking in though. The sole is absolute murder on the feet

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