I remember as a small kid being taken by my Mum down to the local Clarks shoe shop to get my little pinkies shod for school. I distinctly remember their foot-measuring machine, which looked like a mini scrapyard crusher. You took off your old shoes and put your stockinged feet into this polished aluminium monster (which was the height of technological innovation in its day). The smooth metallic walls whirred and clicked and squeezed your toes and heels one way, then the sides of your feet the other. The shop lady took the measurements and off she went, to come back with a new pair of boring black school shoes – much like the old pair you came into the shop with, only slightly bigger.
Needless to say “Clarks” were seen as naff by all schoolkids, only to be worn with school uniform or seen on the feet of your unspeakably uncool (and bearded) geography teacher. In other words – you wouldn’t be seen dead in a pair of Clarks outside of the school gates.
So, how did this staple of stuffy British schoolwear become such a big hit with terrace dressers? Two reasons. First, we became nostalgic for the sturdy old things. Secondly, and more importantly, the Clarks Originals range of sensible footwear look good, I mean really good. You can dress up or down in a pair of Clarks, you can’t do that with a pair of Trimm Trabs. Clarks are also reasonably priced, not good in itself, but if you’re shelling out in excess of £200-£300 for a good jacket, you might be a bit too brassic to fork out another £150 for a pair of shoes to go with it.
My favourite Clarks shoe is the Desert Trek. You can pick them up in sand too, but the dark brown suede pair I own are a lot easier to keep clean – piss japs, spilt ale, kebab, etc, don’t show up as much.
It’s a shame they don’t still have the old metal foot crusher in the shops, or maybe they do, just for the naughty kids that Mum brings in.