The Clarks and Reggae Long-Therm Love Affair.


Iconic record covers, such as those of Barrington Levy and Augustus Pablo, show the artists with Clarks in the foreground; 7 reggae songs have been dedicated to the brand, and countless are the quotes from 1976 to 2020.

“You can’t get a girlfriend if you don’t wear Clarks”

There is a historical and indissoluble link that connects Kingston and the Reggae music with Somerser (UK): its name is Clarks.

The brand’s fame on the Caribbean island goes far beyond shoes: the beginning of its rise can be traced back to the colonial period, which lasted about 100 years. Clarks were imported and sold by the British in the 1920s, and took on an almost aspirational significance among the Jamaican population, as they came from Britain.

In Kingston, there were only two shops that retailed Clarks, and both were located on King Street, the street considered to be the street of luxury shopping. The two stores initially sold only women’s and children’s models, before the men’s Desert Boot arrived in 1949.

The popularity of the Clarks was slow but steady, so much so that by 1970 weekly sales in the country were up to £100,000. In short, one in five Jamaicans wore Clarks.

Between 1955 and 1968, some 200,000 thousand people emigrated from Jamaica to the United Kingdom and the United States. This huge community brought with them – of course – their Clarks: this mass phenomenon was matched by the spread of the brand in NY.

Jamaicans bought the most popular models in their host countries and then sent them to friends and relatives in Jamaica at a much lower cost than on the Caribbean island.

Some tell of a coffin factory in Miami that imported coffins full of Clarks into Jamaica, to escape controls and high taxation, which after the election of Jamaica’s Prime Minister Michael Manley in 1972, became a veritable ban on importing foreign footwear into the country.

Jamaican boys living in the UK would travel to Street, the small Somerset town where the Clarks factory was located, to buy directly in models to be shipped to the Caribbean Island, which gradually became a veritable pilgrimage.

From Jamaica came Reggae records that sold in Europe and the States, and in return they bought Clarks: the whole phenomenon of the brand is closely linked to the Reggae music industry.

Iconic record covers, such as those of Barrington Levy and Augustus Pablo, show the artists with Clarks in full view, and 7 songs have been dedicated to the model, while countless are the quotations, in Reggae production from 1976 to 2020.

Reggae producer Bunny Lee said: ‘Clarks stand the test of time in Jamaica. All other shoes come to bow at the feet of the Clarks’, while DJ Trinity once said: ‘In the 70s you couldn’t get a girl if you didn’t wear Clarks.’

Clarks are still deeply rooted in Jamaican culture, which is why the British brand wanted to pay homage to the incredible connection with the Caribbean Island with a dedicated collection.



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