JaguarShoes x Clarks

The east-London bar and art collective work with local artists and iconic shoe brand Clarks to produce their very own pair of boots

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Following a controversial tussle with British car giant of a similar name over intellectual property rights, JaguarShoes has risen from recent altercation to collaborate with Clarks on a range of corduroy desert boots. The Hoxton staple, which derives its name from the shop that once sold African-imported shoes to Kingsland Road locals, is now going back to its roots, with the help of artists McBess and Chrissie Abbott, to fulfill its heritage. Ahead of next week's launch event, Dazed Digital spoke to creative director of JaguarShoes, Vickie Hayward, about the project – and why we all have such fond memories of school shoes.

When I was young my mum would take me to the local Clarks shop every six months to buy some sensible brown school shoes and every single time I would throw a small hissy fit because I wanted the Clarks magic shoe with the key, just like all the other princesses

Dazed Digital: How did you bring McBess and Chrissie Abbott into the project?
Vickie Hayward: We have worked with Chrissie and McBess on a number of exhibitions and products, not only are both of them extremely talented they are also a joy to work with, so it seemed only fitting that we ask them to be apart of our first ever shoe collaboration. We had the option to make a girls and a boys shoe, but decided to keep our part clean and classic, giving them a frame to work their magic in. Which is, essentially, how we architect all our projects.

DD: How did you go about redesigning a classic like Clarks' desert boot?
Vickie Hayward:
As you say the Clarks desert boot is a design classic, I think if we’d had tried to alter it too much it would have felt a bit sacrilegious. We had a corduroy made from pressed suede and changed a few details on the sole and laces, all quite subtle details. Then went to town with novelty socks and packaging.

DD: What was it like to work with a brand with as much heritage?
Vickie Hayward:
Daunting and exciting. They’re so engrained into British heritage and our psyche, that at the same time it also felt totally natural, like working with an old friend. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t own a pair of Clarks. When I was young my mum would take me to the local Clarks shop every six months to buy some sensible brown school shoes and every single time I would throw a small hissy fit because I wanted the Clarks magic shoe with the key, just like all the other princesses. As I got older, I never strayed away. I was a teenager in the 90s in Brighton so for us it was all about wearing your wallabees down 'Mad For It', our local indie disco. Today I get to wear our very own Clarks desert boots and be a part of that heritage too!

DD: DreamBagsJaguarShoes has a strong history of working with artists...
Vickie Hayward:
We opened our first business, DreamBagsJaguarShoes, because we wanted a place where we could showcase the work of creative community we had become involved in. At the time there was no one in London really exhibiting commercial artists, illustrators, graffiti writers and street artists. So it was great to be able to have a space to promote their talents without having to rely on selling the work. It proved successful as it pretty much became the blueprint for a whole genre of bars that were to follow. A decade on we still have the same passion and desire to show the best in new young talent and through the business' growth over that time we get to do that through our other venues, publications, products and brand collaborations like this one with the mighty Clarks.

DD: JaguarShoes has had some recent press over its name. Do you think controversy is a good thing?
Vickie Hayward:
This was a bit of an odd one for us, we believe in making change through positivity and creative output. So putting something with negative connotations into the public arena was quite a difficult decision to make and is not our style at all. We had been in talks privately for two years and having made no headway we were running out of time, so we called upon the public's support in the hope it would reinforce our standing as a brand when it came time to present our case. I don't think this was particularly controversial and I don't think controversy is a bad thing, but there are more interesting creative projects that we would much rather be telling people about than this.

JaguarShoes x Clarks are available from No-OneClarks Originals and stores nationwide. Visit JaguarShoes for details of the forthcoming launch party.

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