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Clarks Originals Gallery

The Clarks breakaway brand celebrates 60 years of its classic desert boot with a six-piece limited edition

In a market which is turning back to timeless style and classic pieces in the wake of financial uncertainty, a brand could do worse than relaunch a winning style that has captured the imagination of consumers over the past six decades. It is with just such a strategy that British footwear brand Clarks Originals is approaching the 60th anniversary of its iconic desert boot.

The crepe-soled desert boot, created in 1949, was inspired by a rough suede boot that Nathan Clark, the grandson of one of parent company Clarks’ founders, stumbled upon in Cairo, Egypt.

Worn by film and music stars such as Steve McQueen in The Great Escape and Noel Gallagher of Oasis, the iconic style has become synonymous with a relaxed attitude and organic styling.

Brand director Sebastian Edwards says: “We use the best materials possible and aren’t really interested in technology and widgets. We just make comfortable shoes using materials and construction which are, for the most part, pretty simple.”

The Clarks Originals brand came into being in 1995, breaking away from Clarks to become a brand in its own right, which allowed Clarks to market its iconic, back-catalogue products more effectively to a different consumer.

Edwards says: “Clarks was a big comfort footwear brand. We really needed to make a move to target a different consumer. Now we see Clarks Originals as both our fashion and heritage spearhead.”

Edwards describes how Clarks Originals’ viral marketing and strategy compares with the mainline’s above-the-line approach: “Originals customers want to feel they’ve found the brand themselves, it’s a much more understated approach. Our look has come back on-trend over the past year, and I think that in tough times people seek out genuine products like the desert boot.”

Clarks Originals sells in 25 of Clarks’ 500 retail shops including London Oxford Street, the Bullring shopping centre in Birmingham and Manchester’s Trafford Centre. The brand also has 25 stockists including the Schuh chain and indie Hanon in Aberdeen, where Clarks Originals sits alongside brands such as Camper and Converse.

A quarter of Clarks Originals’ UK business comes via its wholesale accounts. The brand aims to raise that figure to 35% during 2009 by encouraging its existing accounts to buy deeper into the collection and increase their space and ranges.

Since the launch of its transactional website in October 2008, another 5% of sales come via Clarks Originals’ online business, a number which Edwards aims to treble by the end of this year.

To celebrate the desert boot’s 60th birthday, Clarks Originals has designed six special-edition styles to mark each decade. Each pair will be presented in a special anniversary box with a matching key ring. Prices start at £38.50 for the special edition styles. The 165-piece Clarks Originals mainline is priced from £21 to £47.

 

Essentials

  • 25% Proportion of Clarks Originals’ UK sales which come from wholesale
  • £38.50 Price of the special edition desert boots
  • 1949 Year the desert boot was created
  • 1995 Year the Clarks Originals brand was launched

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