Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Reggae and Clarks Connection.

We all did it; stood on a wooden block feeling all disgruntled while a “nice lady” measured our feet. She’d run off to the back to get three boxes of exactly the same patent black shoes with a little buckle to the side. They were reliable, durable and perfect for anyone under the age of five, well of course they were; they were Clarks.

 At that age you wished they didn’t fit or that your parents were cooler so you could have the awesome shoes, you know the ones… with the red lights that flashed as you walked. Those weren’t just any school shoes they were the super cool, super amazing, wow your friends and strut a little school shoes. But nope, your evil parents would insist on the sensible ones that they thought were cute, they’d aww and talk about how quickly you were growing up and if you mentioned those light up beauties you’d be told they were for boys, like that would stop me wanting them. Please! 

If only at that age I had realised that in Jamaica not only would I have been at the height of fashion with my Clarks kicks on but I might even have gotten into some bother with the Police. Yes, you read that right. Okay, maybe not at five years old but add 20 years and make me a man and there might have been a problem.....

So what is Jamaica’s love affair with traditional Clarks shoes? Well mostly a love of UK goods. In the late 50’s and early 60’s there was a massive wave of immigration from the Caribbean and Clarks became a shoe of choice for people when they arrived. Going home in them was a revelation and a pair of shoes became the perfect gift from loved ones residing in the UK.

Clarks opened up a store in Kingston when they cottoned on to this new untapped market and things got crazy. It was the boots that the Jamaican boys were after, they were expensive but if they were going to have them they would have to be Clarks. The shop sold 400 pairs in 5 days which meant they sold out!

But the people who were buying them weren’t just boys they were Rude Boys. I guess you could liken their reputation to that of a Chav. The shoes had become a status symbol amongst them, like Zoot Suits for Italians in America. As the shoes became an important part of the Rude Boy uniform they also became a method of establishing “troublemakers” by the police. In a bid to crack down on fights and bad behaviour most clubs in Jamaica wouldn’t allow anyone wearing them in!

A ban on imports made them more desirable as they were harder to get a hold of which meant trips to the UK to bring them back began again and even now they are still the footwear of choice for anyone whose anyone!

In the modern day, it’s not much of a surprise to see an elderly Jamaican man wearing a pair of Clarks shoes but if you ask him about his life and his dress sense over the years,  I’m sure he’d have a few interesting stories to tell.  

Here’s Vybz Kartell showing his appreciation of the brand we rejected aged 5: 

Inspired by a Newsnight news package.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Forgive me, for I am only human...

I have been threatened by my trustee followers that they will no longer follow this blog unless I actually post something. So let me start by apologising for my absence, times have been busy, stressful, exciting and ever changing but these are not excuses.

Instead of reflecting on what I have been listening to, watching and craving from the fashion weeks that seem so long ago, I will give you a slice of three things I love.



Her debut album “Ashes” was thrown into my life by chance and I was not disappointed. Florence and the Machine worshippers may tune their ears to Kyla’s vocals and rejoice in a folkier/goth version of the Welch master!  

The album itself is quite a mixed bag. One thing I think it lacks is continuity – even the vocals sound different on each track – but I think that makes for a charming listen. You move from the anthemic vibes of “Been Better” to the grass roots folk (similar to Frazey Ford) on “Woke up Dead” to the quirks of Americana on “The River.” It’s a bit of a rollercoaster but give the girl a break, it’s her first album! For me, it has been the perfect accompaniment to these dark nights – be that on the tram ride home from work or a night in, in the pod. For anybody who appreciates a bit of drama and darkness, this is your album.
Above is my favourite. 


For the past few months I have been pawing my way through magazines and eyeing up beautiful black lace dresses. Lace is such a difficult thing to wear – you can end up looking like your dressed for Halloween, as a widow, a Goth or just really cheap and tacky. But there is something about the fabric that is both elegant and sexy. It’s been worn by many a celebrity this winter already and was a big hit for Dolce and Gobanna on the runways in Milan this year. So I finally did it, I purchased myself a full sleeved lace dress with a high neckline. I’ll be honest, it did look more Goth than hot but I liked it anyway. For once in my life I decided to go for a trend I wasn't sure would suit me and I didn't die or anything, so maybe I’ll take a fashion risk again at some time!   


I am obsessed. For anyone who works in a newsroom this is a must. I felt so pained waiting for the weekly episodes to be aired that I waited until they were all recorded on sky plus and watched them in one sitting. Then I watched them all again the following week! Characters, plotline and scriptwriting was all impeccable. I laughed at least once in every episode. The thing I loved most was that I realised just how exciting my job was and that I could liken the characters to people I know. The programme blurred the line between tv drama and reality by using real life events and showed how newsrooms in America might have dealt with them. One of my trusty friends also revealed that one of the characters “Mackenzie” was based on a BBC Newsnight producer, which explained why the fictional programme had the same name!