U.K.-based shoe brand Clarks is heading back home for production of its Desert Boot. The company is opening a new factory in Southwest England that will give it the means to return to large-scale manufacturing at home for its iconic style. The plant will join the brand’s manufacturing facilities in India and Vietnam producing the boots.
The factory will be located next to Clarks’ headquarters in Street, Somerset, and has the means to produce up to 300,000 pairs a year as well as offer shorter lead times. The company’s last plant in the U.K., in Northwest England, closed in 2006 after production moved to the Far East.
According to the company, the plant will join Clarks’ existing suppliers and enable a faster response to changing trends. “The opportunity for this is, we can put a manufacturing facility close to the market where we sell,” said CEO Mike Shearwood, noting production would begin within weeks.
The new plant will combine robot-assisted technology and skilled labor, with about 80 jobs added. “We’ve looked at the automotive and aerospace industries and utilized some of that technology to significantly change the way we make shoes,” he said.
For some fashion history, the Desert Boot launched in 1950, designed by Nathan Clark for his family’s shoe company. He was inspired to create the look by a style he noticed fellow soldiers wearing in Burma, where he was stationed in the early ’40s. The boots, it turned out, had been made in Egypt and originally were worn by South African soldiers for the comfort and durability in desert conditions.
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