Having previously designed and managed my own brand, and worked as a designer for other well-known names, I was approached by the Clarks Design Director to come and work on the Originals range.
I love the archetypal desert boot, a, simple, classic, iconic shoe that offers timeless quality, so I was really interested in the opportunity.
Before I took the job, I wanted to meet the people at Clarks. The people I work with and environment I work in are very important to me, and it was clear that everyone at Clarks cares about their work. Clarks care about people too– the people who work there and the people who buy their shoes.
I could have worked with haute couture brands but I chose Clarks. Why? One reason was that I'm interested in designing a shoe that will be a big seller. Some people don't like to work on products that are mass produced, but I think it's great to be able to create a high quality desirable product that so many people like. Another thing that really attracted me to Clarks is the history of the family brand: it's fascinating to hear how it all started and to be able to research into old catalogues and hear stories from technicians. But Clarks is so innovative too. We had 3D printers ten years ago and they are something people are just talking about now. You also get to work with experts at every level, experts for lasts, soles, materials and so on. For a young designer this is the most perfect environment to be in, to learn from the very best.
I enjoy working in the countryside of Somerset too. I love the history of the buildings in Street and we have the archive of shoes here too, which is an enormous source of inspiration for designers. I also occasionally return to my home of Amsterdam to work there which really helps. Clarks is full of opportunities and possibilities. You can move around the business and learn from all parts of it. I also get to travel for inspiration- I call it professional shopping! I've been to material fairs in Italy, research trips to New York and visited the factories in China. The place that's really cool at the moment it's Copenhagen, that's next on my list. All of this helps me in my job.
My personal highlight? It has to be the Yarra desert boot that I developed. I worked with the Originals desert boot to make a more feminine version, using the history and tradition of the design to develop a modern take on it. It was pretty amazing when Florence Welch was pictured in a pair!
Marijke Bruggink, Senior Designer, Clarks Originals