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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » AFTER PANEL DISCUSSION, BRITISH SHOE MANUFACTURER CLARKS, TO CONSIDER MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO JAMAICA!

AFTER PANEL DISCUSSION, BRITISH SHOE MANUFACTURER CLARKS, TO CONSIDER MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO JAMAICA!

 By Richard Johnson—

 Al ” DJ Al Fingers” Newman—

JAMAICANS’ fascination with British shoe brand Clarks was the subject of a panel discussion at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, recently.

Among the panellists at the August 14 event were British writer, DJ and designer Al ‘DJ Al Fingers’ Newman; veteran music producer Bunny ‘Striker’ Lee; Paul Gilroy; and Lance Clark, who is a fifth generation member of the Clark family who founded the shoe company in 1825.

Newman told the Jamaica Observer that the discussion went over well and the audience was intrigued by the fascination held by Jamaicans for the British brand.

Clarks:Logo

“I led the discussion with a presentation of images and sound bites of various reggae and dancehall songs that mention Clarks. Bunny Lee provided a lot of humor and entertainment while Lance Clark contributed some interesting historical background to the shoes. People in the UK, other than those of Caribbean descent, are still generally unaware of the Jamaican love of Clarks and were fascinated by the widespread appreciation of the brand, as well as the many references to Clarks within Jamaican music,” said Newman.

Lance Clark with employees

Lance Clark with employees

The DJ said his compilation of reggae and dancehall tracks mentioning the brand is set to be released by Greensleeves in October. He was, however, unable to name his favourite of the musical selections.

“I do like Clarks and Clarks Again by Vybz Kartel. But also Little John’s Clarks Booty; Dillinger’s CB200 and lesser known tracks such as Trinity’s Clarks Booty Skank.”

Vybz Kartel

Vybz Kartel

Newman said the presentations led to a call for Clarks to contribute to the Jamaican economy.

“A few members of the audience asked whether there was anyway Clarks could give back to Jamaica, for example by opening a shoemaking factory on the island. Lance Clark responded by saying that wouldn’t be feasible due to the relatively small market size. However, it is my hope and aim to encourage Clarks to give back to Jamaica in some way, maybe through supporting Jamaican school children or centres of learning such as the Edna Manley College of the Visual and Performing Arts or the Alpha Boys’ School,” he said.

ClarksLogo:Shoes

Newman said, however, while the Jamaican fascination has certainly helped to propel the popularity of the brand, the overall success of the company lies in a number of factors.

“While the success of the Clarks company goes back many years and is, I think, attributed to the quality of the shoes as well as iconic styles such as the desert boot and Clarks’ marketing activities — historically they have used some of the best advertising agencies, illustrators and photographers. I would say that in recent times it’s undeniable that Vybz Kartel and the other artistes who have sung about Clarks have changed the way many people perceive the brand, which must have had a positive impact on sales,” he said.

Newman is the author of the books Clarks in Jamaica.

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