Clarks Originals: A Jamaican Love Story

From Richard Ashcroft to Wu Tang Clan many musicians have often been seen sporting a pair. However, no music scene shows as much love for Clarks Originals than the Jamaican one.
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Despite the release of Vybz Kartel’s hit song ‘Clarks’ in 2010 not many people had written about this Jamaican love of everybody's favourite footwear brand apart from a few select blogs. That is, until the London based DJ, and general ‘Jamiaca-phile’ (his words, not mine,) Al Fingers decided to write a book on that very subject.

Luckily, I got chance to catch up with Al and have a quick chat with him about his new book, Clarks in Jamaica’, and Jamaican music in general. Obviously, I had to ask him what drew him to the subject of Clarks in Jamaica. “As a long time fan of reggae and dancehall music... I have always been aware of, and intrigued by, the Jamaican love of Clarks shoes” I was soon to learn that this interest in Jamaica developed into a book when “Vybz Kartel released his three hits about Clarks in 2010.” In his own words, Al decided it was time somebody “documented the story.”

Like many people I couldn’t understand why a quintessentially brand such as Clarks is so big in Jamaica. According to Al there are many reasons, they are regarded as a luxury item, they are highly durable and as all Clarks owners know, “they are also very comfortable – important in a country where walking is, for many, the main mode of transport.” Fingers also noted that before trainers Clarks were the first company to offer a casual shoe to the mass Jamaican market, “prior to the release of the Desert Boot, the idea of a casual shoe was a suede brogue.”


The Classic Clarks Desert Boot

If you’re wanting to listen to some Clarks wearing musicians Al recommends Little John, Jah Thomas, Dillinger, Vybz Kartel and Popcaan... Although he assured me that the list was endless. And if, like me, you were wondering what his favourite model of Clarks is, “I am not sure I could choose between the Desert Boot and Wallabee.”

Clarks in Jamaica is released this month at £30 and is published by ‘One Love Books’.

Al Fingers:
One Love Books:
Mark Read Photography:

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