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.
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.
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?
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.