An Ode to Clarks

I have always been enamoured with the British. Anyone that has read this blog, or God forbid, got me started on the topic in person, will notice this strain of Anglophilia. This is particularly true with clothing. Whether it be my penchant for heavy Tweeds, Duffle Coats, Regimental Ties, or whatever else it may be, I have always been drawn to products of British origin. One of the first ones that I personally owned was a pair of Desert Boots by Clarks.

Like many things related to British clothing, they have a great back story that begins with a branch of the armed services. Legend has it that Nathan Clark was serving in the Burma campaign in WWII. During his time there he noticed many of the officers of the Eight Army wearing what he described as “crepe-soled rough suede boots”. He was quite taken with them, and since he was from a shoe making making family in England, thought that he make something like them. This is exactly what he did when the war came to its conclusion.

Since its inception it has been viewed by all whom have admired them as quintessentially British. In point of fact the French call any desert boot 'les Clarks'. They have been worn by many a style icon over the years, including Steve McQueen and the Beatles. Due to its global success Clarks eventually began to expand their line with the Wallabee in 1964. I am particularly smitten by the Wallabee. I will admit, these are a divisive boot. Some people see them as plain ugly, others see the beauty in their oddity. I think Oscar Wilde's quote encapsulates the feeling of the fanciers of Wallabees perfectly; 'The ugly can be beautiful. The pretty, never.' Both the Desert Boot and Wallabee have only slightly changed over the years, a testament to their classic nature.

I believe that one of the things that has made Clarks boots so endearing for so many decades is that they be worn with almost anything (that and they are ridicuously comfortable). Due a quick search on the internet and you will find Prince Harry wearing a pair of brown Desert Boots with a stone suit in the summer or finding director Wes Anderson wearing his trademark Wallabee with a corduroy suit. They are even more at home with a pair of jeans and sweater. In my mind, besides the most formal of outfits, Clarks can adapt to almost any ensemble. I myself can personally attest to their chameleon nature. I have worn both my brown suede Desert Boots and beeswax Wallabees with everything from a grey flannel suit, to tweed sport jacket and chinos, to jeans and sweater and with outwear ranging from Duffle Coat, waxed cotton jacket, and denim trucker jacket.

So you may now be asking yourself, "Why are you telling me all this?". Well, we at John McNabb Clothier are pleased to announce that we are now carrying Clarks Boots. If you have never had a pair, I do personally recommend them. One of the things I really like about them is the fact they are affordable. While a pair of Cheaney shoes will set you back $695.00 (and worth every penny) Clarks will not break the bank with the Desert boots at $150.00. Not a bad price for such a versitale piece of footwear.

Jason Byron Reynolds

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