Urban Industry

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Brand Focus: Clarks Originals

April 01, 2015

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Clarks Originals have become a staple in the British wardrobe, with a line up of iconic silhouettes that have seemingly never gone out of fashion. Whether revived or reinterpreted, Clarks use their rich heritage, knowledge in design and premium materials sourced from across the globe to continue to be one of the most relevant footwear brands of the here and now.

The Clarks story starts back in 1825, with two brothers Nathan and Cyrus at their Tannery based in a small village in Somerset. The off-cuts and cast-off’s from their hand made sheepskin rugs were worked into a pair of slippers following a brainwave from James and voila the first Clarks shoe was born. This moment would kick off a legacy that continues to develop to this day, through fashions and trends that have come and gone, a pair of Clarks have always stayed a popular choice for the youth and older generations.

The beginning of the 1800’s saw exceptional economical and industrial growth in the UK, bringing booming business for Clarks and their unique slipper design that were gracing the feet of people across the country, with sales reaching up to 1000 pieces in a month in 1942. At this point the slippers were entirely hand made in Street without a factory with most of the production kept in the family, occasionally outsourcing workers to meet with the demand.  The system worked well for many years and the company prospered until the recession hit in 1863 which caused the brothers James and Cyril to look for help from their Quaker associates leading to Clarks receiving a loan that would help them out of their troubles.

Through adversity came opportunity, with a condition of the loan being that James’ son William had to take the reigns of the company. Somewhat of a visionary of the time, William modernised the manufacturing process bringing in factory systems and introducing the ‘Singer’ sewing machine, which was a groundbreaking piece of technology at the time. Cyril and James remained part of the company and saw the business begin to pick up once again. In 1883, Clarks developed a piece of footwear history in the Hygienic range that saw the first shoe designed to fit the shape of the foot. Amongst this resurgence, William continued to invest in the community, paying his workers fairly and building homes for them to live – many of which can still be seen in Street today.

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The turn of the century saw advancements in technology and new inventions were arriving thick and fast, with mass production cheaper and inexpensive fabrics available, fashionable items were becoming more and more accessible to the general public.  Clarks continued to prosper and grow, with new product additions moving into the Women’s and Children’s footwear market and eventually introducing their first advertising campaign and also the now iconic Clarks ‘foot gauge’. Even through troubled times Clarks continued to find ways to develop and provide for the public, the most known example being the introduction of the high wooden sole during the war, despite the shortages in material and labour, the brand continued to supply the nation with their footwear needs.

The decades following the war saw change for many including Clarks. 1957 brought the opening of their first flagship store on London’s Regent Street, and in the years to follow there was further expansion both home and abroad, as well as the introduction of new materials and footwear technology such as Active Air that would solidify Clarks status as the worlds premier footwear brand. This era also brought the introduction of some of Clarks most iconic and popular styles including the Desert Boot, that captured the imagination of millions and continues to do so to this day.

The 90’s and the 00’s once again brought change for the popular UK brand, with major changes in world trade causing the company to make some serious decisions in terms of production. Clarks initially chose to part produce their products in a factory in Portugal, however this soon turned into them moving their whole production process overseas. Despite this, Clarks to this day still maintain their high standards and unrivalled levels of quality, and because of this continue to be one of the worlds largest footwear companies. With new silhouettes mixed with some of their classic shapes, Clarks continue to deliver solid collections consistently, season after season, and that was a huge part of us bringing the brand into our range.

Whether you are looking for smart or causal, or something in between, we have a great selection of Clarks that cover all possibilities including their iconic Desert Boot and Wallabee shapes. You can shop the full range HERE.

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