The Authentic Wallabee Clark

Authentic Wallabee Clark

I have been a fan of Wallabees for almost 15 years now. They are a classic casual shoe, both comfortable and stylish. It is a moccasin or chukka styled shoe that is produced in a boot version as well as a low top version (I prefer the boot). It also comes in a variety of leather, suede, and other finishes (I prefer the beeswax).  The Wallabee’s most well-known feature is the crepe outsole.  This is what sets the Clarks’ Wallabee apart from any other chukka or wallabee out there.Authentic Wallabee Clark

Clarks of England fits well within the traditional clothing aesthetic.  The company got its start making sheepskin rugs and slippers in England in 1825. They changeda direction over time and began to focus solely on footwear. They released their most iconic shoe the Desert Boot in 1950. The Desert Boot is a chukka boot modeled after a boot the British Army wore during WWII in Egypt. In 1965 Clarks of England introduced the Wallabee. Currently the brand produces a lot of footwear that I would never wear. However, they continue to produce their classics which is allows me to ignore this behavior.

I have had several pairs of Wallabees over the years. I got my first pair in 1997 they were suede. They were so comfortable, simple and cool that I have almost always had a pair since. However, a few years ago when I needed a new pair I tried to replace them with a Clarks’ book that looks exactly like the Wallabee., but was not the “Wallabee”. It was priced significantly less and I thought I was being frugal.

Wallabees are on the premium side of pricing. They retail for around $140 dollars. The replacement Clark chukka* that I bought I got at the outlet for $30 (though it retails at $90). I can’t remember the name of the shoe and it isn’t on the shoe either, but it took very few wears to know they were not what I wanted.

*This is the Clark Padmore

The shoe started to fall apart after 6-8 months. The most frustrating part is the sole cracked in two places and started to not only fall apart, but began to squeak whenever I walked. The sole on this shoe was very different from the Wallabee and doesn’t have the natural crepe sole. Instead of being constructed of one solid piece like the Wallabee it is made up of at least two pieces. I also attribute this lower quality sole to the fact that they were noticeably less comfortable than Wallabees.

Chipping outsole

multiple piece construction

On the other hand I still have and wear the last pair of Wallabees that I purchased in 2004. They definitely show wear and tear, but are still very comfortable and do not squeak. I wore them heavily as I was attending college at the time. I lived on campus ad walked every wear that I went. So, which shoe was the deal?

Wallabee Clark 2004

The take away from this experience is authenticity. I tried to substitute a product (Clark Padmore) that I knew and trusted for a lesser version. In this case the savings were really good ($110!), but it did not play out so well. The shoes became basically unwearable in 8 months. I still have an authentic pair of Wallabees that I purchased in 2004 for $120. They are worn, but are still very comfortable and most importantly they do not squeak! What I learned from this experience is that spending more money on the authentic product is often a better investment than saving on a lower priced similar product.

oxford cloth button down
is a simple man interested in simple, classic, and traditional style.

15 Comments on "The Authentic Wallabee Clark"

  1. Jordan says:

    things that are annoying: when the shoes you really really love fall apart. then you have to go through the internal struggle of either throwing away your once-true-loves, or walking around with broken shoes.

  2. 3 button max says:

    great blog,

    • oxfordcloth says:

      @Jordan – So true. They go from work to casual to yard work until one day you have to put them to rest. It can be a very sad day.

      @3button max – Thanks, I really appreciate it. I am going to keep working on it.

  3. cocotaso says:

    i realize this comment is a bit late and you may have the info already. but the non crepe wallabee you purchased is actually called the padmore. clarks does this with a few models, ie: change the sole and call it a different shoe. this is also done with the desert boot the “takedown” version is called the bushacre. most times when you find a clarks classic for a deal it is usually one of these cheaper versions. there are even some versions that have a textured honey/amber colored sole mimicking the crepe sole.

    • oxford cloth button down says:

      Yes, thanks, that it is what it was called. It driving me crazy at the time of the post. Thanks for the information.

  4. Dominik says:

    Hi, I like your blog and read this entry with interest – having several pairs of Clarks myself including a Wallabee lo top… What I wanted to add to your description: I dunno which information is right – that Clarks introduced the Wallabee in 1965 or that they introdoced it in 1970… to my information that type of shoe originated as “Grashopper” in 1964 by the German company “Sioux” – in Germany and Austria a very well known source of quality shoes ranging from ugly designs to very nice designs and everything in between. That “Grashopper” was very successful and in 1970 Clarks bought a licence to produce basically the same shoe but a bit “clarksified” – the Wallabee. This shoe, available now also as Chukka boot was even more successful.

    http://sioux-shop.de/Sioux-Shop-braun-23850-Herren-Casual-Grashopper-H-Hopper-G-Rauleder-Latexsohle-Untergröße-Übergröße-HW-11.html

    http://www.sioux.de/de/kollektion_herren.aspx

    Greets, Dominik

  5. RH in CT says:

    Your description of why the Padmore is so much cheaper than the real Wallabee is much appreciated. I’ve been wearing Wallabees for so long I forget when I started, but it has to be well over 30 years now. I’d never heard of the Padmore until running across them on Amazon and found the price tempting – after all, it is genuine Clark’s! But after my search turned up your review I know better.
    Thanks!!

  6. oxford cloth button down says:

    RH – Glad that I could be of help! There is almost no shoe as comfy as a Wally boot.

  7. Dede says:

    Thanks for this blog. Your information is very helpful, as I am buying my 15 year old his first pair of Wallabees and saw this in time to cancel the order for the pair of Padmores I found on Amazon. Hi-top Wally with crepe sole it is.

  8. Oski says:

    Good blog. I’ve been wearing Clark products since college. I bought my first pair of wallabee boots in 95 and switched to the desert boot 7 years ago. Both products are timeless classics. Im rocking bees wax desert boots now. I was entertaining the idea of buying a pair of Padmore’s cause they were $60 cheaper but I knew it wouldn’t be the same quality. Something about the sole, appears to be a little thicker/stacked at the heal. Thanks for the insight!

  9. simon says:

    IT”S GOTTEN WORSE !!!! ( AND MORE CONFUSING FOR THE NEW-TO-WALLYS-BUYER) :
    I actually landed on this nice little blog while trying to find out the EXACT differences between these Clark’s Stinson Chukkas ( looks to be the same crepe sole as the wallabies I’ve always known and loved, but with materials for the upper that may even include canvas (wt..) and some white stiching here and there, as well as a small red “Clark’s” logo tag (background color is red on all tags I’ve seen). At the same time , browsing in general for burgundy b/c I’m on the hunt for a fair price on a pair of Classic Wallabie Low or Boot (I’d like to try the low just once and the warm weather’s coming…) anyway: NOW THERE’s THE low “Run” model which looks great other than the thickness of that great crepe sole being soooo thin. They’re doing this on lots of models. There’s a ghostface (rapper) lyric that says ” broke an ankle, f’n with them Wallabie Clarks” (He’s been probably the #1 fan of the shoe since he was a kid and featured them died all different checkerboard ways and such on his first solo album, “Ironman” , with other Wu-Tang members also seen very often in Wallys , but Ghost always working them into lyrics, skits, YOU GET THE POINT. THEORY IS: maybe they are lowering the thickness for safety, maybe had a lawsuit? how can someone sue when you can sell high heel shoes? Anyway, I HATE to think they’re doing it just to get a look someone thinks is better and less mileage for the wearer so they return in less than 10 years for another pair of the exact same shoe. I suppose it’s tough when you make something that, as the blog said, can last you so long walking all day – AND feeling like you’re waling on air. But you do get the occasional ankle-twank (twank- think comic book words, please) against a tree root or something while letting a lovely lady pass on the sidewalk. I’ve had this happen myself but it’s surely never been a problem. Once in a blue moon thing. Thanks for the bloggin on Wallys, and let us all make it known we want the classic by grinnin and bearin it if need be and seeking them and only them out. Only the ones that look like the cover of Ghostface Killah’s “Ironman”. Only the classic Wallabie or lows for me, no low “Runs” , no “Stinsons Chukkas” , and no crossovers like the supremeXClarks b/c they took away the CREPE SOLE. Okay, gotta sign off. Thanks again. BUY ONLY THE CLASSICS, you’ll thank the writer of this blog, me, and yourself

  10. Edward says:

    Hello fellow Wallabeers. I first became aware of Wallabees, in about the 3rd grade. A classmate of mine’s older brother who was in Junior High at the time, wore them. It was just a fashion statement in Brooklyn way back then to a lot of guys. They were more expensive then your average shoe, so my Mother was set against it, and I had to wait until I had my first job in the 9th grade to purchase my first pair. I remember thinking, wow; these are the most comfortable pair of shoes I’ve ever owned. Your right, it was like walking on air. There is a store in my old neighbor, that keeps Wallabees in stock constantly. This store is a neighborhood landmark. I’ve worn them consistently throughout the years, but took time away from them to try different shoes. I decided to come back to them a few years back and found that, that walking on air feeling was gone. I don’t know what they’ve done but, this is not the same shoe I discovered in the third grade. I’m talking the Crepe sole, it looks and appears to be the same sole that I have grown to love. But the comfort level is definitely different. I had a pair on not to long ago and my foot actually began to hurt. I don’t know what they’re doing but the need to stop it now. YOU’RE DESTROYING A CLASSIC. Maybe we can petition the company to go back to however it was made years ago. Maybe I’m buying an realistic knockoff, I don’t know. If someone out there owns a pair of Wallabees that still have that walking on air feel, and comfort level of no other show please let me know where you’re getting yours from. Thanks guys- Disappointed Wallabeer

  11. ken says:

    just bought a pair of stinsons at amazon. 1/2 price of originals. if I did more research 1st I probably wouldn’t have bought cheaper model. only going to wear once in a while so they should last. next time (soon) I will buy the originals!!!!1

  12. Wally B says:

    Just to add a bit more confusion: the “original” Wallabees were manufactured for Clark’s in Ireland by a company called Padmore and Barnes. I have a pair of these. Modern Wallabees are manufactured for Clarks in China or Vietnam. I also have a pair of these.

    There is a marked difference in quality between the original Irish Wallabees and the modern ones made by cheap third-world labor using cheap third-world materials. The modern Wallabees are less comfortable with harder soles and are more “clunky” looking. I also think the quality of leather on my Irish Wallys is much nicer.

    Luckily, I recently discovered that Padmore and Barnes has begun to produce the original Wallabees (although they don’t call them that) using the original lasts (foot forms) in the original factory in Ireland. Website is http://www.padmore-barnes.com

    I haven’t purchased a pair yet as I am happy with my original Irish Wallys. But for those of you who long for the “original” Wallabees – be aware that these are NOT available for purchase under the Clark’s name! Clark’s has sold out (along with most other manufacturers) by shipping production to communist laborers. Quality and comfort have decreased, and the brand heritage has disappeared. I’d suggest taking a look at Padmore and Barnes’ website. Their shoes are more expensive than those produced in China, but the original Wallys were always expensive. You get what you pay for, as the original blog post here points out.

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