Clarks me prefer
Clarks shoes have enjoyed a cult status in Jamaica for over sixty years. The quintessential British brand has become synonymous with Jamaican street style, fed in the early years by enterprising characters such as Smithy, who began to buy up all the Clarks he could find in Somerset, returning to Kingston laden with “all sizes, colours and styles of the shoe.”, whilst a brief glance through the list of songs that continue to reference them confirms that Clarks are still very much a permanent fixture of Jamaican pop culture.
The phenomenon of a seemingly staid or unfashionable brand being subverted, taken out of it’s original context and repackaged into a fresh, new look is nothing new, of course (boat shoes and barbour waxed jackets, anyone?) What is most surprising is that rocking Clarks as an essential component of street style has endured in Jamaica for so long, bucking the usual pattern of ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ trends which are seen elsewhere across the globe.
Clarks in Jamaica is a beautiful, insightful and fascinating exploration of a social history; a nation’s enduring love for a brand which has far outlived the crushingly predictable life cycle of fashion ‘trends’ in the UK.
Clarks in Jamaica by Al Fingers (One Love, £30) is out now. Go buy it.