The British shoe label Clarks from the small village of Street in the English county of Somerset is nearly 200 years old. Compared to that, a 65-year-old shoe is really just a spring chicken. Nathan Clark designed the classic model in 1949 and based it on a British Army shoe for the desert he discovered at a Cairo bazaar. The Desert Boot, with its clean, simple design and unmistakable crepe sole, truly became cult footwear among musicians and artists in the scene. It has been an iconic style of shoe ever since.
But the label is not about to rest on its laurels. After all, there are two things to celebrate: the 65th birthday of the Originals and 65 years of partnership with the English leather manufacturer Charles F. Stead. Starting in spring/summer 2015, the classic shoe model will be highlighted as a Made in England limited edition model. “There will only be 1,950 pairs of shoes produced for this edition internationally,” explains Rolf Huigen, director of Central and Eastern Europe at Clarks. Nathan Clark’s “Original” is featured in the special edition in a new style: Charles F. Stead’s signature sand colored Bronto suede with the unmistakable orange thread seam and leather soles.
The special edition is modeled after the original bazaar pair which also had leather soles. Only later was the trademark crepe sole added. As Huigen explains, “The shoe costs 220 Euro and will be supplied one season long to select large-city stores around the world.” In addition, starting in spring/summer 2015, all Clarks Originals Desert Boots in Stead suede or smooth leather will sport the Stead leather tannery logo on the insole to commemorate the shared legacy of both firms.
There is no lack of creativity at the British company when it comes to staging the Desert Boot well. In July, Clarks worked with the Canadian backpack manufacturer Herschel Supply Co. and gave the Originals a new outdoor twist: For this collaboration, the Desert Boot features blue premium quality leather, denim patches on the heels, red- and white-striped inner lining and leather laces.
“The timeless Clarks silhouette and the Canadian specialist for backpacks, bags and accessories are a perfect match,” said Auke van Alberda, head of marketing, Europe, at the presentation in the Walls Gallery in Amsterdam. The limited edition of 600 pairs was shipped to select retailers and quickly sold out. Another partner is also getting involved for the introduction of a new Clarks Originals sport collection for the spring/summer campaign.
The Desert Boot will continue to be at the heart of the Clarks shoe family, which has over 1,000 models and launches two collections a year for women, men and kids. Many types of shoes from the collection are modeled after the purist jubilee shoe. There is the classic version, but also spin-offs with snake prints, a metallic look, the heels open, with a heel, a pointed toe, with eye catching flats or a Japanese motif. The special thing about Clarks shoes is the distinctive handcrafted precision. And nobody wants to change this, either-since its inception, Clarks has successfully combined style, excellent craftsmanship, quality and design. “Comfort is, however, the most important technical quality we are known for,” says Huigen.
- Founded in 1825 by the brothers Cyrus and James Clark in Street, Somerset County, England
- 1950 Nathan Clark designs the first Clarks Originals Desert Boot
- Headquarters: C&J Clarks International Ltd, 40 High Street, Street, Somerset, with branch offices in all key countries
- Sales in over 150 countries
- 800 of its own retail shops around the world with store openings planned in Benelux, France, Spain and Germany
- With around 52 million pairs of shoes sold, Clarks is one of the world’s largest brown shoe manufacturers
- It has two collections a year of more than 1,000 models for women, men and children
- Stock availability: 5 million pairs of shoes
- A total of 15,000 full-time employees at all Locations