Desert Boot Creator Nathan Clark Dead at 94

Earlier this week Nathan Clark, great-grandson of the founder of English shoe company Clark’s and inventor of the desert boot in 1947, died at the age of 94. Last week The Guardian ran this fine tribute.

The casual ankle-high boots found a place in the Ivy canon, as the following photos from the Yale-Harvard football game of 1960 illustrates. — CC

7 Comments on "Desert Boot Creator Nathan Clark Dead at 94"

  1. Hackworth | July 7, 2011 at 2:51 pm |

    “Before we defeated the Desert Fox we defeated the desert.”

    Then they didn’t do it in Clarks desert boots, which were created in 1947.

    /nitpick

  2. Christian | July 7, 2011 at 4:53 pm |

    The boot was worn during the war, based on a local shoe, I believe. It just wasn’t marketed as a Clark’s shoe until ’47.

  3. Cambridge | July 7, 2011 at 8:04 pm |

    Great illustration!

  4. RoyRPlatt | July 8, 2011 at 7:08 am |

    As the elderly Colonel wearing an eye glass and a solar topee was probably a bumpf wallah who spent the war in Cairo, he might be excused for not being quite certain what was worn in the desert……someone should have asked him what was worn in the bar of Raffle’s Hotel or in the Officer’s Club in Cairo…..

  5. The Clark Desert Boot is, I believe, a post-WWII marketing creation and is not the same design that was actually worn by some units of the British army in North Africa. The closest currently available to the real deal is the Westly Richards “Vellie” which actually looks most similar to the Clarks “Trek” shoe.

    It can be seen and presumably purchased at their U.S. distributor’s site: http://www.westleyrichards.com/show/courteney_product_vellie.html .

    I believe the Vellie is actually made somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa and was presumably known to Brits who had served in the colonies before WWII.

    The Clarks Desert Boot was HUGE among East Coast high school boys in the mid-late 1960s.

  6. My dad started wearing them as soon as they were introduced in the U.S.– he still wears them (as do I). There’s a great discussion of them in Terence Stamp’s first volume of his autobiography, in which he talks about them in the context of transitioning from a rough boy to a stylishly mod bohemian (and the insole do still wear out/rot out).

  7. I used to have that Clark’s poster back in the 80s.

    Those desert boots were kinda hard to find in the US at that point. These days you can’t throw a stick without hitting some random fool wearing an imitation of a Clark’s desert boot.

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