The Clarks Natalie has been a firm Oi Polloi favourite for years, so when Y.M.C. told us that they’d managed to convince original manufacturer Padmore and Barnes to bring it back (under a different name, for copyright reasons), we were pretty pleased.
And then, when they told us they were bringing back the elusive, lesser spotted Natalie Boot as well, we were really pleased.
And then, when they told us that they wanted us to help out and make some exclusive Oi Polloi ones… well, we were really, really pleased.
These majestic masterpieces are available right this minute to own and wear and love and caress, but just in case you wanted to hear Steve and Nigel talk about shoes for a while, here’s what they’ve got to say on the matter…
“We were looking for the Natalie Boot, which might actually have a different name, and we couldn’t really find it. I saw some vintage ones on eBay and I saw some vintage ones in Japan, but you couldn’t get them.
The Natalie was always the Wallabee’s sibling, its half-brother. At the time, the shoe was always more relevant, you didn’t see the boot as much. But to me, the boot was always better. It reminded me of my first ever pair of Wallabees, which were a nubuck pair of Padmore and Barnes Wallabees that I got from Aspecto in 1988. They were kind of like moccasins, and the soles weren’t as thick as they were on the later Wallabees. They had a thinner sole, sort of like an old ladies Wallabee.
And the Natalie does that job. It’s neater, it’s more sporty and it’s got a real moccasin look and feel to it. You can see the foot-shape in it, and that’s interesting. It’s not quite as bulky as a Wallabee.
Back in the day when people were wearing looser trousers it wasn’t so good because the heel used to pull your trousers underneath your foot, but now when people are wearing a more tapered, shorter trouser, it’s perfect. You can see the best details of it, you’ve got to be able to see the whole of that heel section.”
“The acid house Wallabee was in 88. Then in 1990 Clarks reintroduced the Wallabee, but that was sort of on the tail end of the fashion. The Wallabee in acid house times was worn with crazy hippy gear for maybe two years. It was probably only ten minutes really. The fashions changed so, so fast at the time — it was Kickers, then it was Kicker Hikers, then Wallabees, then trainers or Converse.
By the end of 88 they were gone again. And then they re-emerged from Clarks in 1990. But with the Verve wearing them a little later in the decade, they came back up. And at that point, Clarks reissued the Natalie. I remember a mate of mine having a pair, and although I wasn’t sure at first, I eventually bought a pair and really, really liked them.
I had a dark brown leather pair of lows and a maple pair of the boots. Mine got absolutely battered, because I loved them. I used to wear them with Henry Lloyd, Gant and Nautica stuff in the early 90s, tapered jeans from Levi’s and Ralph rugby shirts.
The Natalie fitted in with all that. It was more of a driving Wallabee, the suspension had been slammed, sort of like a marathon racing shoe. When I first saw them, I imagined they were for the sprint attack of the Navajo hunting the animal. It looked closer to the real moccasins that Native Americans would wear. They fit in with this scally nature look. We’d wear them in the nightclub because they were flat to the floor. Wallabees were shit for dancing in because they were too high.”
The Padmore and Barnes YMC Oi Polloi Trail Shoes are available right now.