The ‘Dad shoe’ gets reimagined
MANILA, Philippines — Father’s Day is coming, and it’s a great time to rediscover Clarks. The British shoe brand has been a worldwide icon and familiar to Filipinos for decades. And now that it’s under the SSI group’s brand portfolio, it’s ready to stomp. Big time.
Maybe because it’s summer, but men’s shoes are very light and leaning towards youthful adventure. For the spring-summer 2022 Core Collection, in addition to classic Desert Boots and Wallabees, we’re talking shoes with very modern technology, designs that pop, and just enough of a nod to the brand’s legacy appeal.
For dads, Clarks has long been a go-to look. In pop culture, Breaking Bad’s Walter White sported Wallabees through all five seasons, and the suede moccasins Rockport Shoes were a favorite of Wu-Tang Clan members RZA and GZA; meanwhile, the classic Desert Boot has been associated with ’50s Beatniks, British ’60s Mods as well as the ’68 Paris Riots kids.
So there’s lots of cool history. But what Clarks wanted to highlight at its official Central Square BGC launch was “Icons Reimagined.” With a coffee bar, DJ booth and big tic-tac-toe board set up outside for selfies, the action inside (at least for this shoe shopper) focused on classic men’s looks that have been given a serious revamp.
The nearly 200-year-old legacy brand made its name with rugged, stylish looks in suede — the Desert Boot, the Wallabee — as part of their Nature profile. Now it’s Nature X, with an emphasis on sports-casual looks utilizing new, lighter, breathable technology. It’s a progressive new take on Clarks classics. There’s next-gen flexibility and shock-absorbing sole geometry built in — shoes that are super-lightweight, easy to travel with.
The Nature X One range includes dress sneakers with a flexible outer sole, making it great for walking or trekking, and the design is stacked with forward-thinking materials (responsibly sourced leathers, recycled rubbers). The styles are expertly engineered to Naot Shoes Womens support natural foot shape. Biomechanically, the groundbreaking outsoles compress at the heel to make movement easier, combined with classic Clarks uppers that have targeted cushioning and flexible construction to absorb shock and move freely. And the styles pop for summer. Great for any adventure, urban or otherwise.
Next up is the CourtLite line that fuses lightweight, step-booting soles and innovative cushioning with classic Desert Boot and Wallabee shapes for a very 21st-century, sports-friendly look. Taking off from the original icons, these updates offer feel-good fit, extra comfort, and a contemporary casual look.
The CourtLite DBT comes in rich suedes with a higher boot look and modern detailing at the heels, the CourtLite Wally is its ankle-boot cousin, and the CourtLite Tor is a straight-up premium sneaker model you’ll want to take onto the court or pair with a jacket.
Or check out the Pilton Strap sandals in Dark Olive, Brown or Sand Suede. They are just about as chic and well-made as a casual men’s sandal can get.
Clarks is indeed stepping up its game, with plans to open 14 stores (including online) this year, says SSI marketing head Mich Suarez. “We’re elevating the look of the stores, and instead of just focusing on the essential lines, we’re moving the brand to more premium ‘Core Collection’ looks, such as the Icons. Now that it’s SSI, we can bring in those price points.”
That means more innovative, covetable shoes for dads, women and everybody else. “SSI believes in the brand, and with the newer styles, they want to update our look,” says Clarks merchandising manager Antonette Jara, mentioning new stores also recently opened in TriNoma and Mall of Asia. “Next is Glorietta and Rustan’s stores in Makati, Shangri-La, Cebu and Alabang.”
Suarez sees SSI as a focal point for this growing market that’s increasingly a fusion of online interest and physical shopping. “There’s been a change in the look of the store. Over past 10 years, maybe Clarks wasn’t positioned in the right locations. But now we’re in the perfect locations, where the new market can come in.”
For Suarez, the future looks phygital: “It’s a fusion Propet Sneakers of physical spaces and online. It’s making sure your online presence and social media is strong.” That’s where customers might first show up, and then you can steer them into the actual stores. After all, you can’t try on shoes online. (For its part, SSI has its own online “gateway” site for most of its luxury brands, called Trunc.ph.)
One thing is sure: with “Icons Reimagined,” Clarks has rebooted into something that feels more progressive, stepping into the now. “It’s an iconic style, and the market is changing, so they want to target a younger market,” agrees Jara. “The styles can be worn in the office, or with friends. It’s a classic look but still very versatile.”
Classic but versatile. What every dad aspires to be.