Underpinning 195 years of shoe innovation and remarkable history, Clarks Originals are simply an unrivalled shoe classic that has become a keepsake item to everyone’s footwear rotation. Reintroducing Clarks originals to the brand line up at Footpatrol, we are taking a closer look at the infamous backstory behind the brand.
Infusing innovation with unique craftsmanship, the Somerset born shoe company was founded by brothers Cyrus and James Clark in 1825 who used offcuts from rugs to manufacture slippers, which became the first Clarks prototype named the ‘Brown Petersburg’. Hand-made and family orientated, Clarks relied on outsourcing staff to meet growing demand for their innovative slipper silhouette, gathering leather from a tannery and taking them home to manufacture to sell for a profit. Their sheepskin slippers reigned over a time of economic and industrial growth in the mid 19th century in the UK, which allowed the Clarks business to boom- with the classic slipper silhouette adorned on the feet of many, it had become a firm fan favourite with sales averaging 1000 pairs a month by 1842.
Entering the late 19th century, we saw severe economic footfall in the UK due to a recession and James Clarks’ youngest son William took over the reins of the shoe business. In which he innovated the whole manufacturing process, creating a silhouette that was designed to fit the shape of the foot-one that is still a mainstay design today.
The beginning of the 20th century discovered a new realm for possibilities for modern advertising, such as the Clarks press ad released in 1936. Signifying physical and metaphoric change for the brand, the advertisement named the iconic silhouette as ‘The Hygiene Boots and Shoes’ taking it’s cordial place as the innovative work shoe. By 1950, the iconic Desert Boot was first previewed, indulging in an unlined suede boot profile designed by Nathan Clark (son of William Clark). The durable boots were worn by British officers in the Second World War. Clarks had also opened its first flagship store on London’s Regent Street shortly after in 1957.
The 1960’s marked the release of the signature Wallabee’s design – introducing the moccasin boot structure that became an unrivalled influence on the burgeoning New York Hip-Hop scene. Cementing it’s subcultural presence in the 80’s with rappers namely Raekwon and Ghostface inverted spits about Clarks as self-proclaimed ‘King-pins’ of the brand. With later iconographies rocking the modern day moccasin fit such as Jamaican artist Vybz Kartel’s love for the brand signified through his infamous bashment song ‘Clarks’.
Modern day and the new millennial period saw Clarks inaugural fit within the modern sneaker world. Adopting new traits of marketing and subcultural influence that has accoladed a new span of collaborators. The sneaker world has been shaped thanks to some rapper and subcultural influences of streetwear gravitating towards it. With a host of collaborations with their archives from partners such as Supreme, wutang and even Footpatrol on the Tawyer FP range. Combining the classic Clarks design with an innovative and youthful spin. The Clarks x Footpatrol Tawyer FP boot woven Wallabee design upgrade indulged in a tonal palette of blue and black 3M reflective material, meticulously crafted with a leather finish.
Clarks has also played a vigorous role in cultural influence and heritage. One of their most profound collaborations is with high profile premium football player Raheem Sterling on a limited edition Wallabee collection that pays homage to his hometown the Mavereley district of Kingston, Jamaican.
At Footpatrol we stock a range of different Clarks Original styles that cater to everyones’ sneaker closet. If you are looking for something archival and moccasin inspired, why not have a look at the Clarks x Caravan collection. If you’re a lover of innovation, the Wallabee Gore Tex collection may be the durable fit that you have been looking for. Or perhaps you could check out the Clarks Torrun for a heritage running-inspired silhouette.
Shop the latest from Clarks Originals here!