Everybody Asks About My Clarks!
Today I saw my brother wearing a pair of Clarks that he has had for at least four years. Yea, they’re a bit stained from construction work, but they still look decent. When I asked him how he’s managed to keep them for so long he said it was because he hardly wears them. He did mention though, that they’re simply strong shoes. He reminded me that he had a black pair of leather Wallabees (high tops) that he wore until he gave them away (in good condition).
I too have a pair of Wallabees (with the L-stitch). I was partly inspired to buy those shoes when I was going through a period of ‘enlightenment’ and positively identifying with the Rastafarian movement. I bought those shoes in ’06 and was positively shocked at how expensive they were, but I still wear them today.
What can I say? Not only are Clarks fashionable and trendy, they are strong and durable as well!
Below, I have added excerpts from an article written by Jesse Serwer on the 30-year love affair between Jamaican ‘rudeboys’ and Britain’s premium sensible footwear.
Clarks Originals have long been a staple of Jamaican fashion. Back in the spring, the Jamaican dancehall artist Vybz Kartel released a single paying tribute to his favourite consumer goods. He was, he says, recognizing a great Jamaican tradition. The song was a huge hit on the island, and stores across Jamaica reported selling out of the very thing Vybz Kartel was hymning. Vybz Kartel’s single was called Clarks, and its cover carried pictures of his favourite Clarks shoes – the Wallabees, Desert Boots and Desert Trek shoes of the Original “heritage” range – of which he claims to have more than 50 pairs.
If Clarks have long been in Britain the shoes of schoolchildren and pensioners, in Jamaica they are a long-standing symbol of upward social mobility, valued for their versatility and – important in a tropical climate – their breathability.
“The generation who had immigrated to England to work in that period after the Second World War would return to Jamaica wearing these Clarks, and people developed a fascination,” Ranx says. “You go back to Jamaica on holiday, the first thing they ask you for is: ‘Bring back a traditional Marks & Spencer string vest, or a pair of Clarks.'”
By the time reggae exploded internationally in the 1970s, Clarks were the preferred footwear for Rastafarians and “baldheads” alike. Rummage through LPs from reggae’s golden era, and you’re likely to turn up at least a few photos of rude boys with their trouser legs rolled up to reveal ankle-length desert boots. But it was in the 1980s, as the social consciousness of the Bob Marley era gave way to dancehall’s rampant materialism, that the shoes gained iconic status.