Classic British Styles Team Up To Create Unique Fair Trade Shoes

British shoe company Clarks has teamed up with Thistle & Broom, specialists in luxury, fair trade Scottish craftsmanship, to create a unique edition ladies’ boot.


It takes the classic desert boot and adds a hand-knit shoes ‘cuff’ in the style of a traditional Aran sweater for the limited edition of 1,200 pairs, which will be launched as part of the Clarks Originals 2011-12 autumn/winter collection.

Sustainable Scottish craftsmanship

Clarks Original Womens Desert Boot

Clarks Original Unique Edition Womens Desert Boot

Ethical, sustainable efforts went into every stage of the boot’s fashion makeover. Certified organic and Soil Association-approved yarn used was sourced from Ardalanish Farms and weavers on the Isle of Mull. It was then spun on original 19th-century machine at the New Lanark UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cuffs were knitted by 35 expert hand-knitters living across Scotland.

Creativity and individuality

The idea started with Clarks Originals Range Manager Rosie Macgregor, herself a Scot from St Andrews:

“Clarks has always stood for excellence in design and craftsmanship, and we’ve recently seen a huge resurgence of interest in hand-crafted products across the industry more generally,” she said. “For the Clarks Originals consumer this has a particular resonance not only as a key fashion look, but as a statement of creativity and individuality.”

“The trick was to find a great partner focused on helping us to bring all this together. Each item created for us by Thistle & Broom is of the highest standard and you need only the briefest of glances to sense the passion behind every stage of their manufacture.”

A fair deal for Scottish artisans

Edinburgh-based Thistle & Broom specialises in luxury fair trade goods sourced solely from Scotland, and aims to help preserve, protect and restore Scotland’s heritage and traditional skills. It gives two thirds of the retail price directly to the artisan actually producing the product, aiming for a fair deal from Scotland’s rural economies.

High profile collaboration

The company’s collaboration with Clarks, a brand well known worldwide, is hoped to raise the profile of Scottish crafts and heritage.

“There is a creative energy found in every aspect of this collaboration that I believe owners of the boot will intuitively ‘feel’,” said Teresa Fritschi, Thistle & Broom’s Managing Director.

“Our efforts focus upon the preservation of traditional skills and creating economic opportunities through a new business paradigm which combines the best practices of the eco-friendly, fair trade, sustainability market and the luxury goods space.”

Based on a classic design

Clarks has been making its classic desert boot for 60 years. It’s based on a style originally produced in the bazaars of Cairo and made popular by off-duty British army officers. We’re not sure how this new bespoke twist would go down well with modern day army types, but it’s certainly bound to be popular with fashion fans.


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