14 June 2016 19:00:00
Clarks Originals: the legend of sand boots
We talk about one of the most renowned British footwear brands having become a true legend
The history of the brand dates back to 1825 when brothers Cyrus and James Clark created a company making rugs and slippers out of sheepskin. Through most of its existence, the company produced the footwear in the village of Street, Somerset county, having built a number of factories there. The spirit of Protestantism within the company provided its employees with housing, education, and rest. Interestingly, but alcohol was not that popular in Street, which might have played its part in the tremendous success of the company.
James Clark was the one who came up with the brilliant idea of creating the most comfortable footwear that would imitate the shape of a foot. Soft and supple sheepskin proved the perfect choice. So the shoes were dubbed Brown Petersburg, and the history of the Clarks brand began. Twenty years later, the Clarks factory was delivering a copious amount of 1000 pairs a month, which was a success then. Later on, the brothers expanded the production, developed new models and began producing various men and women collections. The footwear has had the name for its wearing comfort ever since, picking up awards at the exhibitions of all sorts. However, the true success was way ahead.
At the beginning of the 20th century, the company started having other problems, and the next generation of the Clarks focused on the matter of the sales increase. In 1900, William Clark’s second son, Roger married an American girl Sarah Bancroft. This event opened up a new market for the Clarks footwear in the USA.
Creating Desert Boots
Mid-20th century marked the new round of the brand’s history. While some Clark dynasts were running the family business, Nathan Clark served at the fronts of the Second World War. When in the Southeast Asia, he noticed his comrades-in-arms wearing suede shoes with the lightweight sole. As it turned out, these shoes were made in Cairo bazaars. Nathan liked the boots since they proved themselves excellent in the iron military environment. Upon returning in England, Nathan told his relatives about the incredibly durable yet comfortable boots, persuading them to launch a new line. To his dismay, the family didn’t share his enthusiasm towards suede shoes with the lightweight sole.
However, Nathan didn’t intend to give up on his ambitions. Realizing England was not the place to put his idea into effect, in 1949, he attended an exhibition in Chicago with the New World people being open to everything new. Desert Boot – that’s how the new model was dubbed alluding to its Egyptian roots. The boots became a true revelation for the fashion editor of the American magazine Esquire, whereat the worldwide fame was a matter of time. Following the USA, Nathan Clark’s creation became well beloved in France, where it was called simply “Les Clarks” with the model and the name of the brand kept together. After a while, the young fell in love with the “deserts” – people of various subcultures saw them as bold and independent footwear.
Clarks shoes have taken their special place in the culture of Jamaica and the “rude boys” subculture, widespread on the island in the 60s. Young boys often formed gangs sharing the same style, with Desert Boots being a part of street bands “uniform”. Those days, true “rude boys” had to wear only expensive things in order to be up to a real gangster status. Police officers happened to arrest a young man wearing Clarks since everyone knew it was a sign of a thief, and very few people could afford such a luxury then. Clarks were the best footwear, a real Rolls Royce in terms of shoes. Later on, Desert Boots became an icon among Jamaican reggae artists, often being glorified in their songs. This culture then penetrated Great Britain with Jamaican emigrants, blended with working class youngsters, and formed the “modes” and “skinheads” subcultures. The formers took a special shine to the Clarks shoes.
Following the Desert Boots success, the British brand decided to move beyond, and, in 1967, Clarks Originals delivered an absolutely fresh model, Wallabee. With the unusual appearance, the shoes met the spirit of the times. Various open-air music festivals grew popular then, people spent more time outdoors, so the footwear had to become more comfortable. The model was based on moccasins worn by the Indians while the idea behind it was to imitate the natural foot silhouette achieving the new level of comfort as much as possible. The flexible crepe sole was responsible for that, among other things, providing an excellent grip, whereat its softness allowed the wearer to be more maneuvering. An interesting fact of the modern culture – Walter White, the main character of the Breaking Bad series, wore Wallabee shoes almost throughout the whole show. These are legendary Clarks Originals. These boots are comfortable, lightweight, and universal. They can be combined with almost any casual wear. See for yourself taking a closer look at our store.
Clarks OriginalsMen's boots Desert Boot Grey/Blue
Clarks OriginalsMen's boots Desert Boot Rust Leather
Clarks OriginalsWomen's boots Desert Boot Suede Sand
Clarks OriginalsMen's boots x Stussy Wallabee Royal Blue
Clarks OriginalsMen's boots Wallabee Suede Off White
Clarks OriginalsMen's boots Wallabee Black
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