Celebrating the traditional and infamously illustrious history of one of Britain’s most cherished footwear brands, Clarks Originals shoes are a true staple when it comes to the modern day wardrobe. Packed to the brim with heritage construction, luxury materials and cultural notoriety, iconic styles such as the Clarks Wallabee and Clarks Desert Trek have catapulted the label to cultural success. In an ode to perhaps one of our countries most treasured exports, we’ve put together a deep dive on what exactly has went down on over 200 years at the top.
When Was Clarks Originals Founded?
Clarks Originals was founded in 1825 in the village of Street, Somerset, where to this day you can still find their headquarters. Starting out making sheepskin slippers, the hard-wearing casual style stuck, and by 1842, the brand found themselves producing over 1000 pairs a month as demand 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 famed ‘Brown Petersburg’ slippers.
Who Started Clarks Originals?
A family business through and through, Clarks Originals was founded by the Clark brothers, Cyrus and James before being passed down from generation to generation.
How Do Clarks Fit and Are Clarks True To Size?
This question is largely dependant on both personal preference and the shape of your foot. For example many people to choose to size down in the Clarks Wallabee due to their generous proportions and to take into account the natural give as the fabric is gradually broke in from repeat wear. To help you find the perfect size, you can find both width and length information below.
F – Narrow width
G – Standard width
H – Wide width
History of Clarks Originals
Following their initial success, business boomed until the 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 was 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 traveling 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 and styles to their production lines.
What materials are Clarks Originals Made From?
Using only the best fabrics at their disposal with a commitment to sustainability, Clarks footwear are most renowned for their use of suede, nubuck and leather. Having experimented with a variety of textures, colours and combinations, fan favourite styles such as the Clarks Desert Boots still come constructed using the same suede sourced from Charles F.Stead, the original tannery which has been in operation since 1893.
This dedication to excellence continues below with many of the brand’s most sought after styles boasting the now unmistakable crepe sole. Used for its natural shock absorbing properties and water repellency, the materials come completely recyclable, making it one of the most eco-focused materials used in any piece of production.
Clarks Most Iconic Styles
It’s no secret that Clarks footwear come with more than their fair share of instantly recognisable silhouettes. From the Wallabee to the Desert Boot you can read about just a handful below.
Clarks Wallabee Shoes
The Clarks Wallabee and Clarks Wallabee Boots were originally released in 1964 and have since become a staple in footwear rotations around the globe. With its design dating back to 1880’s during William Clarks time at the company, the shoe quickly gained notoriety for its traditional mocassin style construction, Crepe sole and squared off toe. Still standing as a cornerstone of the brand’s output, the style has seen countless iterations over its almost 57 years in production.
Clarks Desert Trek Shoes
Initially known as the Clarks Hike, the Clarks Desert Trek released in 1972. Set apart from its peers thanks to its unique central seam toebox and embossed heel emblem, elements such as a two eyelet design, crepe sole and suede fabrication
Clarks Wallabee Cup Shoes
A new style for 2021, the Clarks Wallabee Cup borrows classic elements from its predecessor, merging them with a subtle modern twist. Widening its crepe sole for more material underfoot, it boasts webbed detailing to the heel and customary assembly.
Clarks Desert Boots
Designed by Nathan Clarks, in 1950, the Desert Boot is now one of the most iconic footwear silhouettes ever created. Lifting its inspiration from a crepe-soled, rough suede boot that was sold in a Cairo bazaar to off duty British Army officers, they are known for their effortless visuals, comfortable wear and quality craft.
If you have anymore questions about Clarks or if we missed anything be sure to let us know in the comments below!
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