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Founder of iconic Desert Boot passes away

Nathan Clark, original designer of the iconic Clark’s Desert Boot and great grandson of Clark’s founder James Clark has passed away aged 94.

Clark, who was born in Street, Somerset on July 16, 1916 joined the Clarks footwear business which had been started by his great grandfather in 1825, in 1933.

After spending some time in the Clarks factory he attended Queens College, Oxford between 1935 and 1937, but left for Spain during the Spanish Civil war to drive in an ambulance unit.

He later worked again for the family business in Dundalk, Ireland before joining the Royal Army Service Corp during WW2. He left for Burma in 1941 to help establish a supply route from Rangoon to the Chinese forces at Chongqing.

It was whilst fighting in Burma against the Japanese, that Clark came-up with the design for the iconic Desert Boot. In Burma, he was seen by his comrades squatting on the floor cutting up newspaper with a pair of scissors.

When asked what he was doing he said: “I’m cutting the patterns for boots to send back to my brother in England.” These were the first patterns for the desert boot.

The Desert Boot continues to be a best seller for Clarks and has sold in excess of 10 million pairs, in over 100 countries worldwide.

During his time with the business Clark also introduced a number of shoemaking technologies, including the Cema vulcanising of the sole onto the shoe, which enabled Clarks to produce a significantly more durable children’s shoe.

After the war Nathan travelled extensively for Clarks between 1947 and 1950, organising, managing and developing their overseas services, setting up business agreements in countries including Canada, Australia and South Africa.

In 1951 he left Clarks to pursue his own interests, but still retained a strong link in the design of the Originals range that he had helped develop.

Melissa Potter, Clarks chief executive said: “It was Nathan who was responsible for the design in 1949 of the iconic Clarks Originals Desert Boot which was launched at the Chicago Shoe Fair a year later and since then has sold in excess of 10 million pairs. The Desert Boot is still a best seller today and is recognised as a worldwide symbol of Clarks. Nathan will be sadly missed by all his friends at Clarks and throughout the footwear world.”

Clark continued his interest, and his passion, in the shoemaking business up until his death on June 23, 2011.

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