If you’ve ever had the pleasure of stomping around in some of the footwear on offer from Clarks Originals than you don’t need us to tell you that they’re dead comfy on the toes and go with just about any bottom half attire you could think of. From the effortless sophistication of a good pair of Wallabees to the casual cool of the Weaver and the rugged charm of a Desert Trek, there’s a ‘sole’ mate out there guaranteed to fit every foot, style and formality. Well, as Spring looms on the now not so distant horizon it appears that Clarks have heard our cries for some quality suede kicks delivering a brand new silhouette that’s soon to be as synonymous with summer as a day at the beach, a cold drink in a hot beer garden or the race to eat your ice cream before it melts on your hand.
Arriving on our doorstep in both a black and beige colourway the Clarks Originals Seven takes sensibilities formed through years of knocking out instant classics and combines it with some on-trend contemporary design direction. With stitched detailing and debossed hiker to the heel tab, the sevens keep things traditional up top putting to work a two eyelet lacing system that tightens the ultra-soft uppers around the foot for an unquestionably snug fit. Elsewhere things take a more modern turn with a leather sock liner and resilient trainer-like rubber outsole supplying the goods when it comes to mid-stride support and reflective striped laces bringing with them a dash of extra functional flair.
So the question on everyone’s mind, why are they called the seven? Perhaps they derive their name from the seven individual pieces they are made up of? The 70% recycled rubber that can be found in their soles? Or maybe it’s something to do with the magical qualities associated with the mysterious prime number? No matter the reason, if we had to sum up the Sevens in seven words it would be, ‘quality shoes that look and feel outstanding.’ Get your hands on them now whilst you still can in store and online here.
You know Clarks, you know the prestige, the history,the creations. What you don’t know is that in the last two years Clarks have been killing it with new silhouettes, new technology, and a renewed vigour to their designs. This process has culminated in some of the best designs in the company’s history, and that holds true on this brand new Clarks Kiowa Sport.
The heritage of the Kiowa comes partially from Clark’s own catalogue of silhouettes and the origin of its name. Kiowa people are Native American settlers that formerly occupied the areas of Montana and Colorado before their modern-day incarnation as the Kiowa Tribe of Oklahoma. The inspiration from the name comes in part from Kiowa handmade moccasins, usually dressed with multicoloured beads. Although the Clarks iteration of the design comes sans beads, the slimline moccasin construction can easily be traced back to the heritage of Kiowa footwear, borrowing the original sensibilities of the early moccasin designs of the Native American people, commonly referred to as the creators of the moccasin and the design base for moccasin designs in this century.
When it comes to the shoe itself, the Kiowa is another hybrid design cut from the same cloth as the heralded Trigenic silhouette, borrowing the luxury sensibilities of the upper and applying a striking foam midsole that borrows from the sensibilities of Y3 with it’s sleek and eye-catching construction. The design has the audacity to take on a typically Japanese construction seen from brands like Visvim and Yuketen with it’s tonally stitched upper panels of nubuck and leather and woven detail. The block foam midsole comes sturdily designed adding an ortholite footbed on top to gift the shoe that staple Clarks comfort, finished with a durable rubberised outsole and Clarks branding. The heel tab offers a different construction to the majority of the shoe, incorporating a contrasting stitch composition with the design echoing that of the classic Desert Trek heel branding. The laces come in the form of 3M ropes that lend a more sporting vibe, finished with the classic Clarks Originals triangle tag, branding the shoe as the genuine article.
This particular release sees a use of tonal brown and beige to dress the upper, allowing the midsole and contrast rear stitching to provide the two-tone finish to the silhouette. With more to come in this silhouette from Clarks, expect further staple colourways in the monochromatic style, with the blank canvas to provide a vibrant dressing to the brand new silhouette.
Keep your eyes peeled for more colourways of Kiowa Sport, alongside further releases from Clarks Originals.
The history of Clarks is steeped in British heritage, but the real foundation of the brand is with its subcultural impact. Adopted by movements across the world that furthered Clarks humble handmade British profile into a symbol of quality, the brand still finds itself relevant and influential to this day. They sparked a revolution, defined generations and captured the imagination. This is how Clarks were built.
Jamaican ‘Rude Boys’
Everybody haffi ask weh mi get mi Clarks – Vybz Kartel
If this was a spider diagram then the ‘rude boy’ culture of Jamaica would be at the epicentre.
The Jamaican rude boy took pride in their appearance with Clarks Desert Boots establishing the brand’s flagship silhouette as a staple item. Being expensive, stylish and made in England gave the shoe a sign of affluence, as well as a counterculture strike to the colonisation of the Caribbean country. Practically, the boot was versatile, strong and could withstand lots of wear; its crepe sole made barely a sound affording the wearer with an element of surprise that quickly earned Clarks an unsavoury reputation with Jamaican law enforcement.
Tom Austin, former President of Clarks of England, reflected that it was a phenomenon ‘transported’ from Jamaica, something he confidently claimed was grassroots-led with no Public Relations intervention,
we didn’t do anything to inspire the Jamaican market… but (Clarks) did attempt to carefully ride on the trend without alienating the rest of our customer base
The initial adoption of by these trendsetters gave the brand the go-ahead amongst the streets, leading the way for more adopters of the crepe sole paving the way for the original Clarks’ styles like the Wallabee, Desert Trek, Lugger, Natalie and particularly the Desert Boot to build a near 50-year heritage.
You can strongly argue that the migration of Jamaicans was the catalysts for Clarks, spreading Originals with their travels around the world and ultimately selling the appeal of Clarks Originals back to the country that originally developed them.
Possibly the most well-recognised piece of Mod clothing. The Desert Boot design, like a lot of Mod style, was taken from a military background. When Nathan Clark was stationed in Burma in 1949 he saw off-duty officers wearing crepe-soled suede boots leading to the brand’s creation of its quintessential shoe (more on that later). Comfort and durability have always been the selling point, and with a versatile profile that lent itself to the mod style of smocks, terrace parka’s and Jeans/Cords and the occasional suit, the desert boot became the perfect foil to the mod outfit.
With its popularity in Jamaica, the early adoption of the brand left no indecisiveness to Clarks’ legitimacy as a decidedly ‘cool’ shoe. Creating the initial wave of British ‘cool’ that would lead on to the present via the import of rude boy culture to ska, northern soul, 90s rave culture and Britpop.
The popularity of Clarks Originals continued to spread through music and, understanding the counterculture statement that a pair of Clarks Originals made, the stylistically and musically astute British ‘connectors’ such as Oasis and The Verve, amongst others. Expanding on the stylistic foundations set by their mod forefathers, the Britpop update to the Clarks subcultural magnet drew in staple styles like the Desert Boot, as well as adopting others such as the Wallabee.
UK accreditation of Clarks’ status was cemented by Richard Ashcroft’s grey Wallabees on the cover of the Verve’s 1997 album, Urban Hymns, as well as their feature in the video for lead single ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’.
Oasis remained particularly outspoken about their love for Clarks and in 2000 Liam Gallagher approached Clarks to propose collaboration with his clothing brand Pretty Green.
NYC – Rap
Jamaican influences took a while longer to penetrate America, particularly the suburbs of New York, where 90s hip-hop culture particularly took a shine to the Wallabee design. Legendary rapper Slick Rick is a noted Wallabee enthusiast, going on record to say;
Brooklyn had a lot of style. Early Brooklyn, NY had a lot of style to it. It had a gentlemen style going on there with the Jamaicans, they would be the biggest inspiration with the Clarks Wallabees, the slacks, the Kangol hats and all of that type of stuff. They would be my biggest influence like that
Wu-Tang Clan, fresh from a recent collaboration with the brand, have permanently placed the brand at the forefront of their style moments, the champions of this being group members Ghostface Killah and Raekwon (and Cappadonna) helping the Clarks Wallabee become relevant in the streets, often putting their own spin on the suede moccasins by dyeing them unique colours (see Ironman album cover for reference).
Infamous rapper and renown super villain MF DOOM was the first to get his Wallabees dues, being gifted a two-part collaboration from Clarks with a homage to NYC in the form of the Knicks colourway wallabee high, and a classy brown leather low top edition.
With the Wallabees crepe sole and moccasin upper, it added a ‘sneakerheads’ touch to a dressy shoe.
Finishing up his NYC style feature, Slick Rick remarked;
Shoes wise, I haven’t seen any shoes that I would say top Clarks Wallabees or old school Ballys, to me. I would say that Clarks Wallabees still rule right now as far as shoes that look like you have a little swag on you. You might have to alter them a little bit, but as far as walking into the store and getting a pair of shoes to look cool Clarks Wallabees still have it locked hands down
Army Surplus Fashion
Launched in 1950, the desert boot was designed by Clarks family descendent Nathan Clark – and almost didn’t come to fruition. Whilst on military duty in Burma, he spotted similar boots on a group of men who’d bought them in Cairo. Inspired, Nathan designed his own pair, only to be met with resistance by the rest of the Clark family who didn’t believe the shoe would sell. Nathan persevered, however, taking the desert boot to Chicago which led to them appearing in Esquire magazine and the rest is history.
It’s feature with leading figures like Steve Mcqueen aided its deployment into the fetished military surplus community. With its military heritage on full display, it remains an influence to those inspired by it’s Army influence such as Nigel Cabourn, Kanye, Nick Wooster amongst others.
Japanese Fashion Culture
Clarks’ worldwide dominance and arrival in different sectors was followed by increased interest from Japan. The popularity of the Desert Boot and the Wallabee grew amongst Tokyo retailers who wanted to satisfy a youth-oriented market craving an authentic product manufactured using original materials, in the country of origin. Unlike the catwalks of Milan and Paris, young Japanese ‘cool hunters’ regarded Great Britain the home of street fashion, regarding the Desert Boot creators as a member of the A[quascutum] B[urberry] C[larks] of British Brands
Clarks Desert Boot remains the preferred item of footwear for a sophisticated clientele in Japan whereas it is perhaps perceived as a more utilitarian product in the UK.
Atsushi Hasegawa Creative Concept Manager at Clarks
I knew about Clarks – only because of Clarks Originals – from when I was working in fashion and was a kid in the 80s. They had Clarks Originals in very good shops… I’ve grown up with Clarks Originals – Desert Boots, Desert Trek, the Wallabee, Natalie. I absorbed many famous shoes when I was young and I definitely liked Clarks Originals with their authentic, simple designs
From its inception to this modern day, Clarks continues to outfit and revolutionise cultures making it the most versatile footwear brand on the globe. From the feet of Drake to the small screen with Walter White’s iconic attire in Breaking Bad, to the brands renewed and vigorous approach to its originals archive as well as its improved collaboration work, there’s no stopping the humble brand from Somerset.
The Summer season is finally here, which means that you need to put your winter kicks back in storage for a while. It’s sometimes hard choosing what to go for when the warmer weather arrives. So we have hand-picked five of our favourite choices, taking both style and function into consideration, making for the all-around essential pair to enrich your sneaker game. We have it all here for you, so if you prefer a smarter approach, or want to kick back in a pair of trainers, your next go-to pair is just below!
The Replica sneaker from Margiela is inspired by the German Military (GAT) sneaker, constructed using a premium White Calf leather construction mixed with subtle hits of Suede dressed in Light Grey. These hold a versatile look thanks to their clean colour palette and minimal structure, meaning you can style these with essentially anything. With a comfortable wear that can keep you comfortable all day long, these are an ideal choice if you want a refined edge over the competition.
Clark’s recent innovation of the Trigenic Flex has completely reshaped the sneaker industry, fusing footwear engineering technologies with their classic moccasin construction. The Trigenic finds a perfect blend that makes for the ultimate smart-casual appeal, giving you endless wear thanks to its three-part Vibram sole that offers paramount flexibility. Matched with the monochrome colour palette, you’re in for a treat this summer when you step out in these.
These Chelsea Boots are built for Off-Duty wear, with a sumptuous construction that can last season after season. These are great for those brighter afternoons when you are off out for a meal or chilling in the beer garden, these should be your first choice thanks to the oiled leather upper offering a durable wear.
Red Wing Weekender Chelsea 3311 – Copper Rough and Tough
This one is for all you devout sneaker lovers out there, Nike Air Max is a must have for the summer, with a bouncy air cushioning response in every step they are the best on this list for comfort. The premium rendering adds this to the choice of staples thanks to its versatile styling elements, the buttery suede upper offers a clean tonal rendition with a light Grey colour scheme.
Switch it up this summer with the EQT Support from the Three Stripes brand. Rocking a full Primeknit upper with premium Nubuck accents. With a moulded sole unit offering exceptional comfort with an embroidered heel support cage. These are a great lightweight & breathable option keeping you feeling and looking fresh on those hot days. Mellow hits of Yellow inject a summer vibe into the clean Black upper.
Clarks Originals are well known for their history and shaping British style and the culture; they have both feet on the throttle and are set to revolutionise your spring wardrobe. We have been blown away with this season’s Clarks Originals Weaver Suede Shoes in Sage, they are sure to add a well needed colour pop to those dull days. Constructed in a true moccasin way, with unique tonal whip stitching to the suede upper, all of which is sat to the signature crepe sole unit.
The fun doesn’t stop there, buckets of pizzazz have been mixed into their collection this season, whilst keeping design elements from their classic styles, like the Desert Trek. The Ashton comes in a more traditional colourway for those who aren’t ready to jump out of the box yet. The Ashton shoe has been crafted from a luxurious soft suede upper and lining, with the iconic Trek man emblem to the leather heel, all of which is sat on their signature crepe sole unit.
No piece of footwear gives off an air of nonchalant cool quite like a pair of desert boots. Their simplistic, daresay minimalist style has been a perennial favourite since their inception in 1949, their distinctive crepe sole setting them apart from both casual and formal styles of the time. Easy to wear, comfortable and effortlessly stylish, they’re the perfect go-to shoe for any occasion, and are always a wise investment. But, as with any classic style, it can sometimes be a struggle to figure out how to work them into your wardrobe. Not to worry! Aphrodite are here with some style tips for a little inspiration.
A Little History
The desert boot is such a ubiquitous and timeless style today that it’s hard to imagine that it was considered a radical design when it was introduced by British shoe maker Clark’s in 1949. The famous origin story of the desert boot goes like this: Nathan Clark, great-grandson of one of the brand’s founders, was stationed in Burma with the British Army, where he was taken by the casual suede boots worn by some of the off-duty officers. After finding out they were purchased from a street market in Cairo, he sent some diagrams and hastily-constructed models back home to England. Clark’s then debuted their desert boots at the Chicago Shoe Fair in 1949, where they were told “It will never sell!” Suffice it to say, that wasn’t the case: 68 years and over ten million pairs later, the Clark’s desert boot is one of the most popular shoes of all time.
How to Wear Desert Boots
So you have your brand-spanking new pair of desert boots, now you need inspiration on how to wear them. To kick off our style guide we’ll take a look at the classic way to wear such an iconic style: as a happy medium between a smart shoe or brogue, and a casual trainer. Their slender profile and mid-height ankle lend themselves perfectly to being worn with a pair of slim jeans or chinos teamed with a slim white tee, polo or a casual shirt. Whether for a night out with mates, a first date or just weekend lazing, a desert boot in suede or beeswax leather is a quick fix to sharpen up your casual look.
While the desert boot has long been a staple in the smart-casual menswear uniform, there are plenty of alternative ways to wear it within different silhouettes or styles. On the more casual, street-ready end of the spectrum, the desert boot works as a great alternative to sneakers with a more relaxed pair of jeans or work-style trousers in earthy shades like olive. Roll your hems up a little to keep things crisp or just leave them as-is; the timeless shape stays stylish either way, so the choice is yours. If you ever feel like you’re growing out of wearing trainers all the time, or just want to sharpen up your street look without the bulk of a work or hiking style boot, then give the desert boot a try; they retain the comfort and hard-wearing nature of your favourite trainers while adding an extra twist of low-key sophistication.
A Formal Twist
At the opposite extreme, the Clarks Originals Desert Boot is also a great way to add your own touch of laid-back personality to your business or evening wear. The classic beeswax leather or cola suede finishes make the perfect match for a less-formal navy or charcoal suit with a crisp white shirt as a base, with or without a tie (occasion permitting!)
Wearing boots with shorts might sound like an eccentric choice, but that’s actually how they were first worn — as part of the British Army uniform in the warm, humid climate of Burma. The look still works perfectly well today as part of a casual look for the warmer weather. The lighter suede styles are ideal to wear with shorts and no (or no-show) socks, teamed with a simple plain or striped tee or button-down shirt.
Part of the desert boot’s appeal is in its soft suede construction, keeping it a lighthearted alternative to more formal boot styles. But as any footwear aficionado knows, keeping suede looking clean day to day can be a nightmare. Personally, we think the desert boot looks just as good with a bit of wear and tear, but if you prefer the box-fresh look, spray before first use with a suede protector such as Crep Protect. This not only protects from every day dirt and grime, but has the added benefit of preventing the dreaded ‘denim bleed’ – the blue stains left behind on suede through prolonged contact with the indigo dyes in raw denim. Otherwise, just wear them and enjoy them! Read more about how to use Crep Protect on our blog including a useful video tutorial.
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. Clarks Originals History
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.
Now 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 in 1950- a tannery named Charles F. Stead, which has been crafting fine materials since 1893. Clarks Originals Popularity
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.Clarks Originals Master Of Your Craft Video
The following video has been taken from the Clarks Orignals Youtube channel, which shows “a little insight into how the craftsmen celebrate what they do and feel about their craft.”
One of Britain’s most cherished and historic brands, Clarks has retained their penchant for truly authentic style, whilst still managing to keep perfectly balanced for a modern day look. Famous for their iconic styles such as the Desert Boot and Wallabee’s, the brand also like to keep up to date with British Culture. The newest addition to hit the street is the innovative Trigenic Flex.
Developed with the help of the brands extensive archive collection, the Trigenic utilises the silhouette of an old find and meticulously follows the shape of the foot for an extremely comfortable shoe. With a classic moccasin constructed suede upper which has been inspired by the Clarks Wallabee with obvious stitch detail for a hint of timeless Clarks design. The three part decoupled Vibram sole unit offers superior flexibility for a premium quality shoe.
With the rise of all things sneaker related, now is the perfect time for clarks to release the Trigenic Flex to the world and these are a perfect shoe to close the gap between shoe and trainer
With the break in the clouds we can nearly see the summer rays, but you glance down and your footwear isn’t living up to the swanky roof terrace look you had in mind? Don’t worry we have the answer to your prayers. This week we shot our lookbook at The Dun Cow, catering to your SS15 footwear needs, showcasing our finest H By Hudsons, Clarks Originals and the iconic Grensons.
Shop Our Clarks Originals Collection Here, Our Grenson Selection Here, And Our Hudson Pieces Here. Shop All Our Fancy Footwear Here
Samantha Carruthers is an Online Editor at Aphrodite. Find her on Google+