Clark is a greatly successful shoe company that was established in England in 1825 and gradually became quite possibly the most influential brand in Britain. It’s hard to talk about Clarks without mentioning their super well-known chukka, the Desert boot. It is arguably the most popular chukka boot in the world and well among the most iconic boots of all time.
The footwear development was led by Nathan Clark, the great-grandson of the founder of Clarks. Clark was stationed in what then was Burma during World War 2 and noticed that most of the soldiers there wore crepe-soled boots with suede uppers, a design initially meant to be worn by soldiers in Africa’s Western Desert Campaign.
Clark adored the boots but when he returned to England, he experienced difficulty selling the idea since suede uppers and crepe soles were somewhat associated with the lower class. However, when he came to Chicago to try selling them to Americans in the late 1940s, they were a hit.
Table of Contents
Clarks Desert Mali Boot: First Impression
There are several types of Desert Boots out there: there’s leather and suede and canvas available in many colors: there’s a Goodyear welted version marketed as Desert Welt, but when you head to their store on Madison Avenue, you’re likely to get the most popular version: Oakwood suede.
The shoes are manufactured in Vietnam and they really define the term Chukka boot. You’ll hardly find any laces here and the whole thing is about ankle height at 10.5 centimeters high- just as low as you can get while still considering it a boot.
The design is referred to as “open lacing” and you’ll almost look like a carpenter or archaeologist when you are there. Nonetheless, they gained massive popularity after being worn by soldiers in Africa.
It is a basic, straightforward boot that’s super informal. You’ll most likely choose not to wear these with nice khakis or slacks. That’s because aside from being super light and thin, the sole, which is derived from crepe latex, just shouts casually. Well, crepe boasts numerous pros: lightweight, soft, and is often considered pretty environmentally friendly. However, it does not look formal.
Clarks Desert Mali: Leather
A quick note on suede: when tanneries get their hides, they go for the top grain, and split it off from the rest of the material. The slip or rather the top grain is the part that’s derived from the underside, which is usually where suede comes from. A small amount of wax is used in the finishing to enhance character.
Following our research on Clarks, we found that the shoes aren’t only made in Vietnam, but the suede is also made in Vietnam. Several sources have it that it’s obtained from prestigious C.F. Stead, the same place that makes the amazing suede for Taft’s Dragon Boot, but Clark’s is not such a premium material.
The leather is not the best looking or the strongest either. It’s not waterproof and is pretty thin and as stated before, it doesn’t feature much structure at all. On the bright side, it is soft enough and fairly breathable in warm weather.
Clarks Desert Mali: Sole
Clark Desert boot is designed with a Crepe Sole, which is also called plantation rubber. It is a crude, cheap type of rubber that’s usually derived by passing coagulated latex through heavy rolls called “crepers” after which the resultant material is dried. It is very soft and comfy and some people consider it relatively environmentally friendly because it’s possible to tap rubber trees for rubber without destroying them.
Traditionally, crepe soles have been used on workers’ boots and shoes due to its comfort. In fact, it feels almost like a slipper, such that you can feel it when you step on pavement cracks and small rocks.
There are several downsides: first, the sole gets dirty very easily. Crepe tends to suck up everything it touches. You can also expect to find hair and small pebbles embedded in the sole after a long day when you’re around and about. It also slips kind of easily in wet conditions (not to forget it can absorb water and get your feet wet).
You might think these are hard to resole, but they’re just an integration of rapid stitching and cemented sole, which is actually not hard for a cobbler to resole. Overall, the sole is comfy but does not provide much support and stability.
Clarks Desert Boot: Fit and Sizing
Clark Desert Boots are just available in one width. You might want to order a half size down from a sneaker size because they usually run larger. Besides, suede stretched pretty quickly. Aside from that, these boots are super comfortable, and as we mentioned earlier, the crepe sole is soft and offers a very comfy step.
However, you won’t feel very well protected from the outside, and there’s little support and stability. But if you always wished you could wear a pair of slippers outside, then you’ve gotten your footwear.
Clark Desert Price
In Clarks’ online store, you will pay around $130 for a pair of Oakwood suede, though they are a little cheaper on Amazon, costing between $120 and $125. These boots are available in other materials that frequently fall under the cheaper price category. Note that Amazon shifts prices a lot based on a variety of factors, but in general, it’s the cheapest place you can get these shoes.