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C&J Clark

C. and J. Clark Ltd, better known as Clarks, is a high-end British shoe manufacturer with a high street retail operation. The business is based in Street, Somerset, England.


Started in 1825, by Quaker brothers Cyrus and James Clark, as a business making sheepskin rugs and slippers, using out-workers in the village, it has expanded to become a global shoe brand, with operations in the United States, Europe and the Far East and Japan.

For much of the life of the business, the company manufactured its own shoes in Somerset, building several factories in the area. The company's Quaker ethos made provision for workers' housing, education and leisure activities, while its keen social conscience kept Street 'dry' for many years. Rising costs and low productivity forced production abroad, and while shoe design is still predominantly done in the United Kingdom, all manufacturing has now moved to India, China and Vietnam. In 1993, redundant buildings at its Street site were opened as Clarks Village, the UK's first outlet shopping centre.

Clarks have produced a number of iconic styles during its history. One such style is the Playdeck sandal which was made for men, women and children from the 1970s to the early 1990s. Playdeck was a popular style of sandals, especially for children, during the 1970s and 1980s. It consisted of a flat crepe sole unit, a leather insole, a plain ankle strap and two buckling straps, one at the instep and the other at the toes. It came in a variety of colours, but most popular was bamboo (tan), navy blue and white. Playdeck sandals were more commonly worn by girls, but a significant minority of them were worn by boys and many girls' schools had them as a uniform item in the 1970s and early 1980s, typically with white knee socks.

Clarks Companies North American logistic centre is based in Hanover, Pennsylvania near the Maryland line. In the recent years of growth, this facility was deemed a Federal Trade Zone, and has expanded its warehousing locations across town. A larger, more technologically advanced building is under preparation for construction very near to the original location, and should be fully operational by the last semester of 2010.


Rappers Method Man and Ghostface Killah, both of the Wu-Tang Clan, have mentioned Clarks Wallabee shoes in their songs and they appear on the cover of Ghostface Killah's album, Ironman.

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