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Comeback kid: Here's how Clarks plans to recapture your soles

With a revamped store at Ion Orchard, a new concept, and new designs, Clarks wants to be everyone's idea of the best casual footwear brand
 

Photo: Clarks

 

For the last decade-and-a-half, Clarks has had the unfortunate (or fortunate, depending on the way you see it) rap of being the go-to for comfy shoes our parents might wear. The brand your weathered feet will want to rely on when you finally decide to hang up your stilettos, but not any time before that.

But like our parents, the 193-year-old Brit brand was never always out of touch. Its iconic Desert Boots had (and still has) serious cultural pedigree, being rarely seen off the feet of Oasis frontman Liam Gallagher in the ’90s. The equally-recognisable Wallabee also found its place in hip hop: all nine members of the Wu-Tang Clan were fans in the ’90s, and it is worn even now by stars the likes of Drake, LeBron James, and Kanye West.

 

Photo: Instagram / @clarksshoes

 

And while Clarks is already synonymous with comfort in most of our minds, fewer of us also know that the brand is one of the oldest footwear brands in the world, possesses an archive of over 22,000 shoe styles, and “was the first footwear brand to create complex cushioning systems for shoes - even before today’s sportswear brands have heard of them”.

 

Photo: Instagram / @clarksshoes

 

This is how Clarks is winning us back

But counting on its rich history is, of course, not enough to recapture the hearts of the fickle 2018 consumer. Clarks is now taking wide strides to change what we know and think of it. Since the brand’s chief brand officer Jason Beckley joined in 2015, Clarks has added new product lines and rethought its designs for the large group of people it has previously neglected - people aged between 10 and 40.

It has also created a new retail concept based on clean lines and modernism “with the shoe as the star”, and is in the process of refreshing its stores worldwide to offer an improved shopping experience.

 

Photo: Clarks

 

Singapore’s Ion Orchard store was the first in South-east Asia to be re-launched with the new concept just last month. Next year, new stores will open in Changi Airport and Suntec City. And for homebodies who still want some Clarks, the brand has also recently partnered Lazada to make its products available on the latter’s platform.

 

Photo: Clarks

 

There’s something for everyone

Its expanded product range is now also split into different lines for different age groups and needs, so that the brand has everyone covered.

On top of its regular dress, casual and sports shoes, one exciting addition is Clarks’ new Cloudsteppers (pictured above) range of athleisure-inspired shoes. The millennial-oriented line offers comfortable and lightweight sportswear styles at an affordable price point - and got its name for a reason.

“Cloudsteppers are made with four layers of cushioning within. Most people who try on a pair end up buying it. It’s that comfortable,” says Guillaume Nagy, president of the brand’s SEA and Oceania operations.

In fact, the brand is so confident of Cloudsteppers that it promises we will be able to see more of it next year. The upcoming Suntec City store will feature a unique dual concept - a regular Clarks store on one side, with a linked Cloudsteppers store adjacent – the first in the world.

And if layers of cloud-like cushioning don't suffice, Clarks also has Unstructured, a premium range made with its very best tech, offering maximum comfort, movement and support - great for older feet.

While children get Disney-themed shoes. “Parents want comfort for their children’s shoes, but kids want cute designs. We also think kids should wear comfortable shoes, but they don’t need to be boring. We have signed a license agreement with Disney and can now offer shoes with Disney designs for kids, including the latest movie franchises such as Star Wars and Avengers”.

 

Photo: Instagram / @clarksshoes

 

Tapping on its own history

It’s quite obvious by now that yes, like many others, the new Clarks has the millennial consumer in mind. But no, the brand is not planning on getting their attention by imitating the competition. Instead, it is proudly embracing and adopting its near two centuries worth of know-how to set its own trends today.

“We are all about daring to be different - we don’t need to follow competitors and trends. Jason Beckley spent weeks in our archives to study Clarks’ past creations and reinterpret them for the needs of today’s consumers. Using our expertise as a shoemaker, we want to make our products more than ever relevant to the present day”, says Nagy.

 

Photo: Instagram / @clarksshoes

 

“It’s not about the number of shoes we sell at the end of the day. We just want to be the world’s greatest casual shoe brand - as many of the shoes we create define what casual shoes are - and to be seen as one of the best footwear brands at this price point.”

A shoe brand that has historically focused on making shoes that are good for our feet, is now also making them look good on our feet? Count us in.