As much as I live in my Clarks Desert Boots, I have to confess to an ambivalence towards Clarks themselves. For decades an arrogant and monopolising business (for years stockists of Clarks shoes were controlled by Clarks as to what else they were allowed to stock), their lack of attention to their own history is astounding in these times when every company with a vague legacy of product claims ‘heritage’ this or ‘vintage’ that. Most ‘new’ desert boot models seem to be made out of some kind of carpet, gimmicky cheap leather, or just plain naff colours. Someone there is obviously half-smart as alongside these horrors you can find the reissued cola and wolf colours. The otherwise nice Oakwood was spoiled by some hideous and unnecessary ‘J-cloth’ lining. Unlike in Italy where there is no such thing as too many shades of tan, someone corporate probably thought they needed more ‘colour’ and less ‘beige’ in their range.
But in a time when the single greatest phenomonen in footwear for the last decade or so has been the ubiquitous Ugg boot, how many brain cells do Clark’s ‘designers’ need? Their own history has the perfect foil for the Ugg – the Clarks Shearling Desert Boot.
Now, there were some blog postings earlier in the year about Shearling boots being reintroduced (albeit only in womens’ models) for September but they are nowhere to be seen. Maybe the all important price point didn’t pass muster in the UK focus group?
Some of the tiny Italian manufacturers like Astorflex often sell a shearling range for winter but these can usually be found only in Northern Italy.
Shame about Clarks, as I’d buy a couple of pairs in a flash.
As an update, I saw this morning that Clarks have introduced their shearling desert boots in sand and dark brown – but ONLY for women!
There is the alternative suggested by Bryan in the comments section, but that is oiled distressed suede. If you search online for images of Clarks Taupe Distressed it’s hard to work out exactly what colour it is – in some images it looks OK, in others really nasty.
Shearling desert boots are not so difficult to find in North Italy for men and women. Plantation crepe soles included!
I have also seen some made in Spain, not really nice honestly, and not sure about the sole.
The Weejun says
Exactly Gabriele, I just need to go back to Italy in the winter next time! I know Astorflex make some – I remember seeing them in Verona some years back.
Haven’t checked for other colors, but there you go.
The Weejun says
Thanks Bryan. Interetsing though, that it’s for North America only. We see this time and again with old British makers – the good stuff is ordered by those in other markets and the ‘designers’ of those companies just produce third rate product or fashion for the home market. And why only in that pre-distressed leather? I’m quite capable of wearing out my own desert boots!
I’ve got a pair of sheepskin-lined chukka boots in a lovely tobacco suede colour from Morlands. Established in 1870 in Glastonbury, they are still going strong but sadly concentrate on slippers and women’s boots these days. Great heritage – Edmund Hilary took Morlands boots on his Everest expedition.
My Morlands Winterset 328s look like they are from the 1960s. Lovely and warm on days like this, they have a rubber sole that grips well in the snow and ice.
The Weejun says
Yes, Morlands used to make some great stuff – classic coats too. My stepmother had a lot of their stuff in the late 60s/early 70s. Snowing in London today, and I’m missing my vintage Loake curling boots that are being used as a template for a modern version ( that are not likely to be of interest here, I must add).