Celebrating the traditional and infamously illustrious history of one of Britain’s most cherished footwear brands, Clarks Originals shoes are a homage to style that has come to pass, but manages to remain as relevant to your style now as it was in its heyday.
With iconic styles that have been worn by some of the most iconic youth cultures and fashion movements in British history, Clarks Originals give you the platform to extend your look beyond fashion, and into timeless style that transcends decades of infamous design.
Perhaps a truly cherished home grown brand due to its longevity and memorable history, the Clarks brand originates from the 1800’s, when two brothers invented the sheepskin slipper in a sleepy village in Somerset. The hard wearing casual style stuck, and by 1842, the Clark brothers were producing over 1000 pairs a month as demand for their slippers grew nationwide. By this point, the likes of factories and mechanical production didn’t even exist, so to keep up with demand, nearly the whole village of Street were employed to craft the Clark brothers famed ‘Brown Petersburg’ slippers. Business boomed until recession swept the country in 1863. All of a sudden, the Clarks brand began to falter. The two brothers took a loan to save their beloved company, only to be told by the men behind their salvation that they must step down and allow one of their sons to take the reins of the Clarks empire.
William Clark stepped in, introducing Singer sewing machines to the business. The machinery was revolutionary at the time, and a huge gamble-which paid off with great prosperity as the label began to flourish once again, as it released one of Clarks most cherished innovations; the Hygienic footwear range, which featured the first ever shoes that were designed to fit the shape of the foot. Fashion moved forwards, and so did Clarks. With the times moving to make stylish footwear more and more important, Clarks developed, increasing their production through factories and assembly lines.
When war hit Great Britain, Clarks’ factories were used to create torpedoes. With raw materials like leather and rubber becoming rationed, Clarks were the first company to pioneer wooden soles on shoes, ensuring that the nation remained austerely stylish.
The decades following the war were of real significance to Clarks. The people of Great Britain had never experienced such freedom. They were travelling to new places and embracing new experiences; and they desperately needed new footwear to take them there.
Clarks responded, opening their first flagship store on London’s Regent Street and introducing brand new materials to their production lines, as well as styles such as the now beloved desert boot in 1950.N ow one of the most iconic footwear styles ever created, the Desert boot was the design of one of the original Clark brothers ancestors; Nathan Clark. Drawn in 1949, the Desert boot was the first ever casual shoe made, and took its inspiration from a crepe soled, rough suede boot that was sold in a Cairo bazaar to off duty British Army officers.
It was this crepe sole that became the basis of some of Clarks (and now Clarks Originals) most sought after styles. One of the best natural shock absorbers and water repellents, the material used for the crepe sole is completely recyclable and natural, making it one of the most sustainable materials used in any piece of production.Similarly, all of the suede used on the Clarks Desert boot is sourced from the original supplier of the style released n 1950- a tannery named Charles F. Stead, which has been crafting fine materials since 1893.
Thanks to the intimate attentions that Clarks have paid to their designs, their name became synonymous with classic craftsmanship, style and quality, as it became the footwear brand of choice for a huge majority of the fashion forward community.
The Clarks Originals label has since become an extension of this iconic brands fine past, preserving some of their greatest styles to ensure that they forever remain, as they deserve to be, pillars of timeless style. With updates on traditional Clarks styles, the Clarks Originals range protects the unique look that Clarks has always stood for.
With Clarks now becoming an international label and the fourth largest footwear brand on the planet, taking their iconic classic silhouettes to every corner of the globe, Clarks Originals ensures that the brands deep rooted heritage is never forgotten, by providing the same time tested and cherished look that gained them so much acclaim during their early years.
Wrote by Sarah Kearney