Clarks, Jamaicans’ favorite footwear brand, has created a new shoe collection inspired by Jamaica. The brand has held a special place in the culture of the island for almost 60 years, and to celebrate the connection, the company has reworked three of its most iconic styles in a limited collection that reflects the individuality and uniqueness that Jamaican is known for and to thank Jamaicans for their continuing love for the brand.
Clark’s “Jamaica Pack” collection for spring in 2021 features its iconic boot styles enhanced with some island flair. The collection comprises the Desert Boot, Wallabee, and Desert Trek. Each of these styles is available in shades of yellow, green, and black, the colors of Jamaica’s national flag. They also highlight the gold saltier emblem of the flag throughout their designs. The premium suede styles utilize Clark’s signature crepe sole and feature soft and breathable leather linings. The styles will be available in April 2021.
Clarks’ connection to Jamaica began in the 1960s when the Desert Boot style was the favorite of Kingston’s “Rude Boy” culture. According to local lore, Joe Williams, the infamous police enforcer of the time, regularly broke up outdoor dance events held in his Spanish Town Road jurisdiction. He is said to have separated groups of people at these events into those who wore Clarks and those who did not in order to separate the Rude Boys from other people. When Clarks Wallabee design was made available in 1967 and the Desert Trek launched in 1971, both of the styles were snapped up by many of reggae music’s most influential artists. In the 1970s, Jamaican banned foreign-made footwear from entering the island market, but secret trade routes from Somerset in England to Kingston in Jamaica were created so that islanders could still get their Clarks shoes.
Why are Jamaicans so enamored of Clarks? The answer lies in their combination of quality and comfort with their reputation for being “cool” and a symbol of social rebellion. They became imbued with the “badman” spirit as they were favored by the Rude Boys in Jamaica, the Mods in Britain, American actors like Steven McQueen, and reggae musicians. By the middle of the 1980s, Clarks were perceived as the choice of rebels and outlaws and reflected a trend among Jamaicans to identify with the glamour of “bad” men. Clarks are embedded in Jamaican culture and reach into all professions and demographics.
There are references to Clarks in hundreds of Jamaican songs. The earliest song to mention the iconic brand was released in 1976 when Dillinger mentioned them in the track “CB200.” Over 200 reggae tracks are known to reference the brand, including “Clarks Shoe Skank” by Trinity in 1978, “Clarks Booty Style” by Ranking Joe and “Put On Me Clarks” by Scorcher in 1980, and three songs from Vybz Kartel that referenced Clarks in 2010.
In summary, Jamaicans love their Clarks because they provide both comfort and durability, have a long and romantic history that features fighting men and endurance, have associations with the glamour of rebels and outlaws, and have been made immortal through the lyrics of reggae and dancehall music.
Photos Clarks Originals