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Martine Rose AW20 28
Martine Rose AW20Photography Christina Fragkou

Martine Rose’s new job will put normies in abnormie shoes

In her new role as Clarks’ guest designer, Martine Rose will crank sensible shoes through a funhouse mirror

Sneakers with in-built bunions, winklepicker football boots, and squared loafers with drawn-out toes: Martine Rose has been responsible for some of the world’s most heinous (and covetable) creations in footwear. “I find beauty in things that are easy to not find beauty in, things that are easy to dismiss,” the designer said backstage at her AW23 collection. “I’m very interested in ordinariness and everydayness.” It tracks, then, that Rose’s next gig should be with one of the most familiar shoe brands of all: Clarks – a highstreet stalwart synonymous with sensible school shoes and comfortable sandals. “And wow… she has exceeded our expectations,” the label’s CMO said. “Just wait till you see the collection.” 

As Clarks’ first-ever designer in residence, Rose has put three run-of-the-mill styles through a funhouse mirror, exaggerating their proportions to cartoonish extremes. There are no images as of yet – so fans will have to use their mind palace to muster up a clear picture – but the press release is littered with adjectives like “swollen,” “puffed-up,” “warped”, “ballooning”, “blown-up”, and “sunken-in”. Words which go some way to describing the bizzaro license Rose seems to have applied to whitebread Oxford shoes, summer sandals, and women’s loafers. All will be revealed during the designer’s upcoming SS24 presentation in London this coming June, while the collection will be available for purchase next year. 

Strange experiments aside, there is a kinship between Clarks – which has subcultural roots in 1960s Kingston – and Rose, who is British-Jamaican. For example, the brand’s 1967 Wallaby shoe was a staple within Rude Boy culture and later became the protagonist of Vybz Kartel’s Dancehall classic “Clarks”. “I am so excited about this collaboration which feels personal as I’ve worn Clarks all my life,” says Rose. “Through from childhood to now. I am proud to be working with a company that has such a rich heritage in British and Jamaican street culture and that is such a great model for how a family business can grow and maintain its values.“ Stay tuned for the designer’s SS24 show and revisit her most recent collection in the gallery above.