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Clarks Taps Young Black Creatives to Compete to Create the Next Wallabee Shoe Design

Clarks is giving recent graduates the chance to create and sell a new design for the iconic Wallabee silhouette.

The almost 200-year-old British shoe company is partnering with One School, a free and intensive portfolio program for Black designers and creatives, to offer a design competition for graduates. Over 60 graduates from the past year are eligible to submit their own designs for Clarks’ classic Wallabee Boot.

The submissions will be reviewed by Clarks Originals shoe designers and one winner will be selected based on creativity, relevancy and production potential. The winning design will be produced, marketed and sold across the globe, with a portion of the proceeds going to the original designer in order to fund his or her education and career.

“The creativity of the group is palpable, and we cannot wait to see their perspectives on the iconic Clarks style,” ” said Clarks CMO Tara McRae in a statement.

Through its Clarks Originals line, Clarks has launched a series of high-profile collaborations with hot brands and celebrities in recent years, including Supreme, Stüssy and Wu-Tang Clan. Clarks last year launched a collaboration with Kith founder Ronnie Fieg and announced it would drop a “Jamaica Pack” collection for spring ’21. McRae previously told FN that there’s “a lot more to come,” in regard to drops like these in the future.

In winning the U.S., the British footwear brand has recently focused heavily on younger millennial and Gen Z consumers.

“There’s a huge opportunity for us to unlock the younger generations, this current generation of consumers,” McRae previously told FN.

Clarks currently operates 50 full-price stores and 114 outlets in the U.S., down from 214 total U.S. stores a year ago. However, Clarks’ wholesale arm makes up the majority of its U.S. business, through brick-and-mortar stores and associated websites, such as Dsw.com and Macys.com. The most popular styles in the U.S. have been the Desert Boot, which launched in 1950, and the classic Wallabee boots. The company has also seen an uptick in its women’s sandals business throughout spring ’21.

In addition to the competition for graduates, Clarks and One School will also allow incoming prospective students to create a Clarks style and marketing plan as part of a challenge for their spring 2022 application.

“Clarks Originals has provided an amazing opportunity for a One School student to design a real product, and it’s a testimony to the creative calibre of those who have gone through the program,” said Kevin Swanepoel, CEO at The One Club, a non-profit that developed the One School. “We’re extremely proud of our graduates, 65% of whom are women, and very grateful to Clarks Originals for offering this rare product collaboration.”

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