It’s hard to believe the history behind what was once a slipper, and how it has grown over the years from its initial establishment in 1825. What started in Somerset from the small village of Street, James Clark was working in a tannery with his brother, he founded the ‘Brown Petersburg’ slipper by a revelation of using the off-cuts from the sheepskin rugs that were in production. This ‘eureka’ moment quickly became a huge success and what was once a family affair, now seeked outworkers to keep up with the growing demand.
The recession in 1863 meant that C&J Clark Limited looked to their connections in the Quaker community for a loan – which was paid back in full after William – James’ youngest son took over as part of the agreement. The business then saw a groundbreaking evolution with the introduction of machinery using the traditional Singer sewing machine.
The new millennium brought continuous growth after further inventions came once again and the 1900s saw an increased interest in fashion which also meant more could afford to indulge. 1930s was the first decade which word began to be spread through advertisement and their first chain of shops called Peter Lord were opened, which remained on the high street up until the early 1990s. During the dark days of war, british industry was thrown in to play its part, and during the Second World War the Clarks factory was used to make Torpedoes. Leather became hard to come by and innovation forced the design of wooden soles which became a determined approach to the shortage of everyday essentials within the factory process.
It was this determination that led to decades of contineous success. The great-grandson Nathan Clark invented the classic Desert Boot, which I’m sure will need no introduction, and in 1950 it made it’s debut. The first flagship store was opened in London’s Regent Street in 1957, and forced expansion introduced 15 new factories in neighbouring villages to supply the growth internationally. Today it is the 4th largest footwear company in the world and the admirable passion that has created unmistakable character continues to live throughout the generations and the ‘footsteps’, as it were, of Cyrus and James Clark.
This Autumn / Winter’s collection keeps the originality of the dress casual footwear which has been developed over almost 200 years, the partnership with the tannery that still exists still supplies the ever recognisable suede. Nathan Clark’s creation of the Desert boot is reflected in the alternative silhouettes we can see this season – the distinctive Wallabee and Desert London. The change of the seasons has shown modification with the moulded crepe textured rubber sole and shades of colour inspired by AW. The tailor made tradition of this pure and simple footwear collection is the go-to quality investment shoe that every gent needs in his wardrobe.