The Clarks Wallabee Deserves a Collaboration Retrospective
Those with shoeboxes scaling their bedroom walls probably struggle with the concept of subtlety. Culturally, we’ve clung to trends that delight in the unique. Whether it’s a particular designer, silhouette or tech element, our industry has always encouraged different strokes for different folks — and we’re thankful for it. This approach has allowed us to adopt our own unique collections.
One of these unique, and at times misunderstood, silhouettes is the Clarks Wallabee. With an unconventional form and functional crepe sole, the Wallabee has garnered a strong following. The two-eyelet construction made a lasting impact and rightly so — it’s functionality at its finest.
Originally released in the mid-60s, the Wallabee has seen construction with a variety of materials over time, which has allowed some trial and error of rare materials, as well as the opportunity to dabble in a number of collaborations.
Most notably, its fame is linked to the silhouette’s connection to the hip-hop community. The artwork for Ghostface’s 1996 album Ironman was rich with DIY Wallabee boots. And Slick Rick put it to TheNew York Times in ‘99 that wearing the Wallabee ‘is a way to be casual but not look like a scrub’. It’s a sentiment that still rings true today.
When a silhouette has this kind of cult success, it opens itself up for other brands to put their own spin on it. So, here we have it, 11 of the most notable Clarks Wallabee collaborations to date.
2008 was a time when we weren’t afraid to let our feet shine. Knowing this full well, Futura tackled the Wallabee Boot and undeniably left us with the brightest ever Clarks colab. The mixture of black suede and textile canvas allows us to examine each and every splatter of colourful paint that parades the sides. Despite its obscene amount of colour, we just can’t help dusting these off whenever we’ve got dinner plans!
In 2009, seemingly with a clear vision of a lumberjack in mind, atmos tackled the Wallabee Boot. The two designs featured reinforced metal eyelets, black leather piping, contrast stitching, and plenty of buffalo plaid. They’re rugged, tough and built-to-last. There was no chance we were leaving them off this list.
In 2018, Clarks linked with the Clan that gave them so much notoriety amongst hip hop fans. What they delivered was two subtle takes on the Wallabee Boot. One was straight blacked out, but the champ was the tan suede version. The deep navy accents and debossed Wu-Wear logos on the heel tabs had us putting our Ws up!
Supreme tackled the lesser-known Wallabee Low in 2015 with a very subtle nod to Ghostface’s Ironman cover art. Available in four colourways, the tan suede was split by either violet, red, green or black panelling. We love when a collaboration offers a nod to the past, so the inclusion of the violet split guaranteed Supreme’s mention on our list.
MF DOOM 2014
DOOM released his second Clarks endeavour in 2014, coming to us in the form of a rich navy Wallabee Boot. Perched above orange outsoles, with rich grain tumbled leather uppers and bold orange laces, this collaboration was on the more extravagant side than DOOM’s debut effort.
As far as subtly goes, the OVO’s 2018 Clarks Wallabee Boot takes the cake. To start, they were handmade in Italy. And, more importantly, it’s rare to find a time when the Wallabee has been done well when topped off with more than just a logo on the heel tab. Team OVO proved it was possible.
BAIT x Breaking Bad 2017
Did you know Breaking Bad’s lead character Walter White was an avid Wallabee fan, wearing them throughout the hit TV Series? BAIT did. And in 2017, Bait, Breaking Bad and Clarks teamed up on two different colourways. One referenced Walt’s infamous drug empire and the other honoured the series’ bloody ending. That’s not really a spoiler, right?
Whenever Jeff Staple touches something, the community wants it. In 2014, he gave some of the more sophisticated heads another adaptation of his famed Pigeon. And, yes, it sold out instantly.
Probably the most desirable Wallabee collaboration is Raekwon’s 2016 effort in conjunction with customiser Sycamore Style. Each pair was signed and numbered by Raekwon, and the first 175 pairs sold came with two tickets to an intimate show in the heart of NYC. Talk about value for money.
MF DOOM 2014
This rich brown Wallabee is beautifully dressed-up with an all-over DOOM print laid within. For us, this was an instant classic, and we can guarantee there are multiple pairs that make the rounds here at Sneaker Freaker HQ.
Regardless of whether you’re a Clarks Wallabee fan or not, you’ll probably be hard-pressed to disagree with our list. The Wallabee has always been a misunderstood silhouette, but here are 11 times that collaborations got it right. They knew what the Wallabee needed to add their own flavour, without compromising the essence of the silhouette. Now we’re going to spend the rest of the afternoon trawling eBay for some of the pairs we regret passing on!