[WORLDKINGS] Top 100 companies over 100-years and still in business – P64 - C. & J. Clark International Ltd (United Kingdom): United Kingdom‘s most popular fashion brand with 195 years of history (1825)


(WorldKings.org) According to Yougov, C. & J. Clark International Ltd, trading as Clarks, is the most popular fashion brand in the UK, with 68% positive opinion.



C. & J. Clark International Ltd, trading as Clarks, is a British-based, international shoe manufacturer and retailer. 

Origins of C. & J. Clark can be traced back to 1821 when Cyrus Clark (1801–1866) entered into a partnership with a Quaker cousin in the trade of fellmongering, wool-stapling and tanning in Street, Somerset. By 1825, this partnership had been dissolved and Cyrus relocated to a site on the High Street in Street, utilising premises that belonged to his father-in-law to exploit his idea of making rugs out of sheepskins instead of pulling off the wool. C. & J. Clark recognise this as the beginning of their business and continue to occupy the site upon which Cyrus started to this very day.



By 1828, as the business had grown, Cyrus appointed his younger brother James (1811–1906) as an apprentice. In 1828–1829, whilst serving this apprenticeship, James began utilising the offcuts that were too short for making rugs to produce slippers (known as Brown Petersburgs).



The slippers were made using outworkers who collected materials from the factory, assembled footwear in workshops at home and returned the finished product for payment. This trade rapidly evolved, providing James with a legitimate claim to an equal partnership in the business when his apprenticeship was served in 1833. Thereafter, it traded as C. & J. Clark.

The brothers developed national and international trade (Ireland in the 1820s, Canada by the 1830s, Australia in the 1850s) and were notably innovative, winning the Gold Medal at the Great Exhibition in 1851 for their gutta percha elongated galosh.

The growing awareness that ‘bad feet’ were the product of ill-fitting shoes determined Bostock to devise a new shoe fitting system based on the detailed analysis of thousands of foot measurements taken from local school children. In line with the findings, the company launched its new children's ranges in 1945 with a choice of four width fittings, simultaneously with the new Clarks foot gauge that acted as a scientific measuring instrument to aid the shop assistant.



The company is commonly known for its Desert Boot, a distinctive ankle height boot with crepe rubber sole, usually made out of calf suede leather traditionally supplied by Charles F Stead & Co tannery in Leeds.

Officially launched in 1950 the Desert Boot was designed by Nathan Clark (great-grandson of James Clark) based on an unlined suede boot profile produced in the bazaars of Cairo and worn by British officers in the Second World War.



Since 2010 the company has moved into India, where it now has 25 stand-alone stores, and relaunched marketing in China, where it has opened 400 outlets in partnership with local footwear retailers. According to yougov, Clarks is the most popular fashion brand in UK, with 68% positive opinion.

The company has over 1,000 branded stores and franchises around the world and also sells through third-party distribution. It is 84% owned by the Clark family, with the remaining 16% held by employees and related institutions.

According to yougov and en.wikipedia

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