CLARKS' WALLABEES: DON DELILLO V/S PAUL WELLER & A BIT OF HISTORY


After building a relationship with Peter Sapper, a German with a small moccasin business called Sioux, Lance (Clark), while working at Padmore & Barnes in Ireland (part of Clarks Ireland Ltd), was responsible for ‘Project M’, which came to fruition in 1967 with the launch of the Wallabee. 

This iconic shoe – a lace-up with crêpe sole, inspired by classic men’s moccasins – was at first regarded as too radical for the British market but enjoyed almost immediate success in North America. To advertise the Wallabees, the largest billboard ever seen up to that time on the North American continent (it measured 185ft by 45ft) was erected in Toronto, Canada, next to a highway used by more than 250,000 motorists every day. 

By 1973, the two Padmore & Barnes factories – in Kilkenny and Clonwell – made little else other than Wallabees, producing some 18,000 pairs a week.”

Mark Palmer
Clarks: Made to Last (Profile Books, 2013) 


1967 | Clarks' Wallabees billboard in Toronto
Source: Clarks: Made to Last (Profile Books, 2013)

“She took off her dress and put it over a chair.

“I never thought I’d end up in bed with a man who wears Clark’s Wallabees.”

“I don’t wear them in bed.”

“At least they’re not Hush Puppies,” she said. “Good Christ, think of it.”

Lomax stood up to get out of his pants.”

“What’s wrong with Clark’s Wallabees? They’re a damn good shoe.”

Don Delillo
Running Dog (Alfred A. Knopf, 1978)


You can say that
1970 | WALLABEE the shoe that's noticeably different


One summer’s day in 1989 I was out shopping for Wallabees. I'd been told there was a shop down King's Road that sold them. Evidently, half of London had also heard months before me. The queue stretched down the road and inside the shop was a shoe frenzy - a whole new generation of Modernists were getting theirs. You could see there was a new look emerging.

Paul Weller
From: The Soul Stylists by Paolo Hewitt (Mainstream Publishing, 2000)


1974 | Out-Wallabee the Wallabee
Source: NY Magazine


“A stroke of good fortune came Clarks’ way when Richard Ashcroft, frontman of The Verve and not exactly the institutional type, wore a pair of Wallabees – first launched in 1966 – on the cover of the band’s massiveselling 1997 album, Urban Hymns. And it could have done no harm that Parker, with his shock of curly hair and propensity for wearing jeans and no tie – and who played the flute in his spare time, and drove a Porsche – was something of a dashing figure.”

Mark Palmer
Clarks: Made to Last (Profile Books, 2013) 


The Verve ‎– Urban Hymns
(Hut Recordings/Virgin, 1997)


Hip-hop fans tended to gravitate toward timberland boots or sneakers for their footwear. But Wu-Tang Clan members, particularly Raekwon and Ghostface Killah, wore Wallabees because not only did they find them aesthetically pleasing and comfortable, since no one was really wearing them, they also weren’t succumbing to trends…

In the mid to late 1990’s Wallabees suddenly became a hip-hop stable. Ghostface justified calling himself the Wally Champ when Ironman’s album cover was littered with dozens of custom-dyed Wallabees shoes. But alas, purported overtures to Clarks about teaming up with Wu-Tang did not materialize. 

Alvin Blanco
The Wu-Tang Clan and RZA: A Trip Through Hip Hop's 36 Chambers (ABC-CLIO, 2011)


Ghostface Killah - Ironman
(Razor Sharp Records, Epic Street - 1996)


People such as Sarah Young nurture relationships with rap artists, who they lure into wearing certain clothes items. When the company that makes Hush Puppies was looking to increase their presence in the urban market, Young helped persuade Wyclef Jean, a singer with the Fugees, to wear powder blue Bridgeport chukkas, which bear a sneaking resemblance to the Wallabee shoes familiar to members of my generation.

Alex Kotlowitz
False Confessions (1999, taken from The Consumer Society Reader - New Press, 2000)


Out-Wallabee the Wallabee again
Bridgeport


… I’d have to say that the most unforgettable thing about Junius Sparling had been his Wallabees. He’d had them a long time, they fit his smallish feet perfectly, and they’d been very well taken care of. They’d been brushed and brushed and there wasn’t a spot of coffee stain or pump grease or anything else on the suede leather uppers; even the nubby rubber soles seemed clean and evenly worn down. You could just tell that these shoes were important to the man.

Patrick Fox
Hell’s Creek - A O’Toole Novel (Iuniverse Inc, 2003)


Into the future/1
Clarks Two-Tone Wallabees for NY's Supreme

Into the future/2
Breaking Bad's Walter White (Brian Cranston) | Faithful to the Wallabee
Source: FilmGarb


 

Archive

Follow by Email