British Style Culture: Clarks Desert Boot, Mods & Rudeboys

This is the first part in our new series focusing on the celebrated stories behind Britain’s most iconic brands.

The Clarks Desert Boot

Known to many as ‘The first casual dress shoe’, the desert boot is synonymous with Clarks and has been since its origins in the late 40s.

Like many iconic fashion pieces the Clarks desert boot originated in the army when Nathan Clark was serving for the British army in Burma. After taking his original sketches back to his home in Somerset he presented his ideas to the Clarks board who said his idea “would never sell”.

The Boots were, and still are made from one whole piece of suede leather giving the boot its duplicity of a simple yet smart shoe. This simplicity allowed for comfort and a distinctive silhouette that transformed the desert boot from a humble army shoes to an icon of style that has been adopted by mods, teddy boys, rude boys, musicians and artists from all over the globe for over 60 years.



Steve Barrow & The Mods

In the 60’s Mods transformed British style forever, a culture with a strong identity that placed importance on looking sharp above everything else. They adopted the boot and made it an icon of the scooter culture at the time. In the short video below Steve Barrow talks about Clarks desert boot and its role in scooter culture.

Major Stitch & The Rudeboys

“You weren’t a self respecting Rudeboy without a clean pair of Clarks bootie”

A polar opposite to Mod culture, the Rudeboys adopted the desert boots as a status symbol, a stamp of approval that meant you were taken seriously. With young Jamaicans travelling to London with a suitcase full of records and returning with a suitcase full of boots, the style spread and as the music scene grew globally Major Stitch was the icon that took the Desert boot on the journey with him.

Made in England

To Celebrate 65 years of the Clarks Desert Boot, Nathan Clark’s original sand coloured design has been recreated and made here in Britain with British factories and British materials.


For me, this is a great example of the rich history many UK brands uniquely have. With so many brands out there on a global scale it’s easy to overlook the authentic icons we have on our doorstep.

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