Clarks Originals, the UK-based shoe manufacturer and retailer, recently singled out for highlight, another Jamaican who has been repping their footwear big time.
This time they have turned their attention to Reggae singer Lila Ike, who donned a lavender-colored Wallabees for a performance in France., during her Europe sound system tour. In a post on the Clarks originals IG page, the company shared four photos of Lila Ike, in the footwear and captioned the post: “Lila in Lavender performing live in Paris #WallabeeWednesday.”
Some Reggae fans who responded to the post, called on Clarks to do more than just post photos of Jamaican artistes wearing their gear, but to also engage them in promotional contracts. In July, Clark’s had re-posted Jahvillani’s song ‘Clarks Pon Foot,’ dubbing it a summer anthem for Clarks and Jamaica.
“Cut her a sponsor deal. Jamaica culture runs off Clarks,” electric_jani said.
“Clarks Origanals need to give yu a deal, cah u making dem Clarks look so cool and fresh…,” one of Lila’s fans wrote.
The commenters are well within their rights to make the sponsorship deal call. Clarks has been an all-time favorite of Jamaican men, and was popularised by numerous Reggae and Dancehall artistes who glorified and immortalized the brand in their songs dating to as far back as the 1970s.
In fact, Clarks has been such an iconic footwear for Dancehall and Reggae artistes that One Love Books founder Al Fingers, was even prompted to assemble a compilation of tracks dubbed Clarks in Jamaica, in celebration of Jamaica’s love affair with the shoes, which documented the enduring relationship between Jamaica and the British brand.
That compilation featured 21 tracks from artists including Supercat, Little John, Dillinger, Trinity, and Ranking Joe.
Al Fingers also published a book of the same title in 2012, attributing his fascination with the shoes’ popularity to his early days growing up in England where he noticed and got deeply interested in “the Jamaican love of Clarks shoes and the way the brand is referenced within reggae and dancehall music.”
He had also said he decided to publish the book and assemble the musical compilation as even though Vybz Kartel’s Clarks single brought the phenomenon to many people’s attention in 2010, the relationship goes back a lot longer, “and I wanted to bring attention to that, highlighting the work of artists such as Dillinger and Little John who sang about Clarks many years before.”
The popularity of Clarks in Jamaica has even attracted the attention of fashion magazines such as Vogue, which published a story titled “How Jamaica fell for the Desert Boot: The Story of Reggae’s Love Affair with Clarks” in 2015.
Vogue noted in the article that when Clarks introduced the Wallabee in 1967 and the Desert Trek’ which was instantly re-christened Bankrobbers’ in Jamaica in 1971, they practically flew off the shelves, straight onto the album covers of Reggae’s most influential singers and DJs, Rastas a and razor-trimmed lyrical gangsters alike’.
“In the 80s the trend shifted from album cover accessories to song lyrics and even titles such as Little Johns Clarks Booty, and marked some of the genres all-time classics like Super Cats’ Trash and Ready” and Eek-a-Mouse’s ‘Wa do dem?’