Clarks in Jamaica: The rudeboy shoe of choice that originated in rural England

When it comes to fashion and iconic style, the Caribbean and in particular Jamaica can be said to be a major influence on British fashion. From sharp suits of West Indian immigrants in the 50s and also reggae and ska music Jamaica often comes off more as a brand than an island.

I’ve always associated Clarks with two things: school and Rastas (and now thinking about it The Wutang Clan). Taking trips there during the holidays to get my feet measured was a lot of fun despite never being able to convince my parents to buy me a pair of shoes with the lock at the bottom.

I have vivid memories of Clarks Desert boots being worn by men in my family – donning them at family gatherings (often paired with a cold beer and cigarette). Desert boots were effortlessly cool and seemed in such stark contrast to the West Country village of Somerset where Clarks originated.

“Clarks in Jamaica” tells the story of the phenomenal popularity of Clarks shoes in Jamaica – from their initial journey from the quiet village of Somerset to the West Indies one hundred years ago, through to their adoption as the rudeboy and Rasta shoe of choice during the 1960s, and the filtering of this popularity into reggae and dancehall song lyrics.

Featuring current and historic photographs, interviews and never-before-seen archival material, particular focus is on the Jamaican singers, producers and musicians who have worn and sung about Clarks shoes throughout the years.


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