The Story: Clarks have been making the poster-boot of desert footwear since WWII—and have since become a staple in most guys’ wardrobes. This pair replaces the usual uppers with a navy nubuck and dyes the crepe a brick-red, like your favorite pair of bucks.
Who to Channel: Britain's Desert Rats battalion in their finest dress uniforms; Steve McQueen, had he kept the boots on with his tuxedo (shown below).
When to Wear It: Anytime you would wear your suede pair. You can leave those in a dark corner of the closet until everyone starts wearing upcycled versions of the desert boot—and it’s time to go back to the originals.
Consider These: The best update to a classic you’ve seen in a good while.
When desert boots hit the saturation point last winter, guys started thinking of new ways to make them their own again. (Also, they were wearing holes through their crepe soles.) And so a small group of intrepid menswear enthusiasts with access to a trustworthy cobbler began resoling their desert boots—but instead of merely replacing the crepe soles, they chose large, monstrous rubber bottoms. (See this Midwestyle post for an early example of the movement.)
And it seems Clarks has taken notice, since they’ve just unveiled the Desert Trooper (at Need Supply Co.), which has their classic desert-boot upper and a chunky, rubber tread at bottom that’s reminiscent of a work boot. If you’ve been considering trying to upcycle your own desert boots but haven’t worn your way through the crepe yet, here’s your painless answer.
Just don’t be surprised when everyone else is wearing them by this time next year.
Walking to work this morning, we spotted no less than five gentlemen wearing suede desert boots. Six, if you count the pair on our own feet.
It’s no wonder; they’re great shoes. On some level, we should have been glad that the men of New York are catching on to the glory of Clarks. But we weren’t glad. Instead we felt a creeping sense of unease, and wondered if we should sneak back to our apartment to change.
It’s a common moment for gentlemen of style—and for anyone as allergic to trends as we are, it’s a moment that deserves a closer look...
It’s hard to compete with Clarks' poster boot for desert footwear, but we think we’ve found a contender: the Velskoen.
These "vellies" were first made by the Dutch East India Co in the 1600s, modeled on Khosian tribal footwear in Namibia. (Yes, Africa.) Herbert Schier still uses the original model and hide of the native Kudu—which recently found its way onto the ACL x Cole, Rood & Hahn chukka—but with an eight-person shop he's only able to make 30 pairs a day. Which means you'll be in very good company.
We tend to be a little wary of high tops, but this Clae pair has just about everything we need. They're desert boot-ish without being desert boots, and the white soles give it a contrast missing in more earth-toned sneaks. And we can always use a little more matte black.
If you’ve leafed through the front of this month’s DETAILS, you might have seen the usual bunch-of-stuff section titled “Investment Pieces.” It’s not a bad angle—they certainly need to address economics in some way—but they don’t seem to have told their writers about it.
The result is a few safe staples mixed into the same trend-driven stock they’ve always specialized in. Luckily we're here to separate the wheat from the chaff...
Business may be slowing down lately, but the menswear business is doing just fine according to the Bloomingdale’s CEO. Of course, he probably wouldn’t mention it if he were hocking the family jewels, but it’s nice to know we’re out-consuming the fairer sex.
Usually mod footwear consists of Beatle boots and the occasional sneaker, but Aaron Rose managed to bring the two together with a sly tartan lining and a red contrast stitch. And, of course, those thick, gummy soles that mean you won’t get too familiar with the pavement.
This latest one is from the west coast (where, coincidentally, there are actual deserts), via Seavees, previously our source for summer-colored sneakers.
The model (named 12/62, after December 1962) takes its cues from something they call “Desert Modernism.” There are a handful of architectural influences, including the Coachella Valley’s Maslon House, but we’re just glad to see leather laces on something that’s not a boat shoe.
This one’s our favorite so far...but we imagine we’ll see a few more before the year’s through.
So far they’re most popular among the hip-hop crowd, but Clarks Desert Boots are one item that’s ripe for crossover. The desert part means they’re impervious to sand, but the main appeal is the roomy, bubble-like front.
The Japanese have already caught on. Clarks is going halfsies with Japanese brand SHIPS to land in select Tokyo retailers with a rare ebony-leather version of the classic boot. They don’t look half bad…from here, anyway.