Clarks' Iconic Desert Boot Gets a New Makeover

Water-resistant suede? We're into it.
IMAGE Clarks

Toying with an icon is risky business but, if you’re going to do it, why hold back? With their striking, whiter-than-white new Desert Boot 221, Clarks spins a bold, fresh variation on their enduring classic.

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Desert Boot Sand Suede, Clarks, clarksusa.com

Photo by Clarks.

Head of product Matteo Bellentani and his design team were well aware of the pressure and responsibility that came with altering a legend, but they embraced a technical hurdle—revamping the proportions and improving the fit using a slightly updated silhouette able to incorporate a thicker OrthoLite® footbed for added comfort.

Let’s start at the source: suede. Working with their longtime tannery partner, Charles F. Stead, the 221 uses a chrome-free suede which accounts for the noticeable brightness of the white. The material is also treated with a water repellent coating to keep the boots from getting stained in the rain. “The decision to use chrome-free was aesthetic and environmental,” says Bellentani. “The sustainability, durability, and friendly approach to the environment is our main objective.”

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The new 221 comes with various pastel laces and fobs so you can curate your own look.

Photo by Clarks.

Inside, the 221 features cushioned footbed support—made with a 20% recycled mixture of OrthoLite® foam waste and rubber waste. This footbed is covered by a thin leather lining, a nice touch. “It’s a cost, but we believe the leather lining provides a benefit and you can really see and feel the difference,” Bellentani concedes.

The only aesthetic modification, to keep the boot properly balanced, is a slightly thicker crepe sole. After months of testing, the calibrations paid off—and the OG desert boot offerings (desert sand, black suede, and seasonal colors) are available in the new 221 style.

'The desert boot is like a reliable friend,” says Bellentani. “It gains value with time. They will continue to influence different personalities and different subcultures in the future, I’m sure about that.'

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Photo by Clarks.

“The desert boot is so simple but easy to overcomplicate,” says Bellentani. “They're like a pair of jeans—they get better the more you wear them. You can wear them for 30 years. So when we apply our new designs, we never want to lose this authenticity. You have to think about the future generation of consumers without forgetting the past.”

Clarks is a 200-year-old family business founded on the principles of caring for employees and partners. They practiced sustainability before it was ever called sustainability, and the proof is in the durability of the desert boot, the perfect marriage of form and function, bound by tradition but ever-ready for reinvention.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.com. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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