Professional British-Jamaican footballer Raheem Sterling, who plays for Chelsea and is described as one of the best-dressed players in England’s Premier League, is making his mark on the footwear industry with the presentation of the new Wallabee collaboration with Clarks Originals. In his third collaboration with the iconic Clarks brand, Sterling’s connection to his birth nation of Jamaica is made clear through the Wallabee’s design.
New Wallabee Reflects Love of Jamaica
The new Wallabee, which was introduced under Sterling’s fashion line, Sixteen Ninety Two, is a high-top show made for the outdoors with uppers of technical quilted nylon and lace toggles that can be adjusted. Its upper is quilted and is similar in appearance to a puffer jacket. The Wallabee features the “Est 1692” embossed on its branded fob, a nod to the year in which Kingston, Jamaica, was founded. Jamaica’s coat of arms is stamped on the shoe’s heel tag, and its rubber outsole displays contrasting earth tones to set off the design.
Sterling’s Jamaica Connection
Raheem Shaquille Sterling was born in 1994 in Kingston, Jamaica, and spent his early childhood on the island. At age five, he moved to London with his mother, a former competitive athlete with Jamaica’s national athletics team, and attended Copland School in Wembley. He signed with the Queens Park Rangers at the age of ten after spending four years with Alpha & Omega, the local youth team. He was then scouted by various academies, including Arsenal, Chelsea, Fulham, Liverpool and Manchester City. He became a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) at the 2021 Birthday Honors for his service in working for racial equality in sports and was listed as one of the 100 most influential Black Britons by Powerlist in 2020 and 2021. He founded the Raheem Sterling Foundation in 2021 with the goal of empowering and inspiring young people to prepare for the future and embrace opportunities for achieving better social mobility.
Clarks’ Long History in Jamaica
The Clarks company, founded in 1852, became a popular and iconic brand in Jamaica. Reggae producer Bunny Lee said the shoes stood the test of time on the island, and DJ Trinity noted in the 1970s that women would not date with men who didn’t wear Clarks. Jamaica’s dancehall star Vybz Kartel has dedicated three hit songs to Clarks shoes, which have been the brand of choice for Jamaican men for some 70 years. In Jamaica, Clarks represent more than footwear: they tell the story of the relationship experienced between the island nation and the United Kingdom for more than a century. Clarks were perceived as an aspirational brand because they came from Britain, and by 1970, hundreds of pairs were sold each week, and yearly profits for the company were high. As reggae music evolved, Clarks shoes continued to represent its style, and many songs and lyrics featured mentions of Clarks from 1976 to 2020. In the 1970s and 1980s, young men wearing Clarks may have been targeted by police because the brand was linked to the “rude boys.” Today, everyone wears Clarks, even Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who wore them during his 2020 election campaign.
Photo – Instagram