Oi Polloi

40 Years of the Desert Trek

Published: Mon Aug 06 2012

Put on that party hat, get the champers out the fridge and prepare to cut the birthday cake, ‘cause the Clarks Desert Trek is turning 40. Yep, you heard right, the famous desert trekker (or bank robber, as he’s known in Jamaica) has been trekking around for 40 years now, and is showing no signs of slowing down. Originally known as ‘Six Toes’, the Desert Trek’s famous wide-footed Cornish pasty shape was based on a design found in Holland, and after a bit of honing courtesy of Lance Clark, became one of Clark’s most recognisable shoes. Maybe slightly surprisingly it also became one of the most coveted shoes in Jamaica, where they are apparently a ‘long-standing symbol of upward social mobility’. As Vybz Kartel (or Adidja Palmer as he’s known to his mum) says, “The leather hard, the suede soft, toothbrush get out the dust fast.” And what’s not to like about that eh?

As well as the Trek, now’s a good a time as any to do a full line-up run through — so what’ve we got? Probably needing no intro these days is the Desert Boot — based around military boots worn in Egypt, these crepe-soled gems have had grown men stylishly sliding around since ’49. Next up there’s the time-honoured moccasin shape of the Wallabee, which ol’ Ghostface liked so much he made an album called The Wallabee Champ. If that’s not enough classic shoes for you, how about the Natalie, the Weaver and finally every safe-drivers go-to shoe — the Skiffler.

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