Clarks Originals x Wu Wear
From Polo Bears to Wallabees and Killa Bees
Words: Sebastian Nicu
Every Hip Hop fan knows the four elements: MCing, DJing, Graffiti and Breakdance. But what about the fifth element, always wearing the best clothes? I think this element – which I just made up – is much more important today than acrobatic dance moves on cardboard boxes in front of tagged walls. But even more than 40 years ago you had no chance to be a part of the scene with a bad style. In the 1990s, for instance, on the sunny west coast, Converse Chuck Taylors, Los Angeles Raiders Caps and Dickies Workpants were the standard uniform for a long time, while in New York, the Nike Air Force 1, Timberland boots and baggy pants were more popular. But even long before rap superstars like 2pac and Biggie never left their houses without expensive designer clothes from Versace or Coogi, many artists had already focused on brands that had rather appealed to older upper-class gentlemen, until then.
The Lo Life Gangs, who had been active in New York since the 1980s, highly influenced this culture. Their goal? To steal the most fancy Polo Ralph Lauren pieces that nobody else wore. People were boosting on a regular basis and complete luxury department stores like Bloomingdale’s were emptied. Colorful jackets, caps and sweaters with large iconic logos like the Polo Bear, flags, or the »Suicide Ski« design were most sought after. The latter has gotten its nickname, because its wearers were often killed over their jackets. More and more New York rappers wrapped themselves in Lo in the 1980s and 1990s. One of the most iconic outfits of the time is probably one by Grand Puba in a Polo Sport Alpine Rugby Shirt live on Yo! MTV Raps and of course the one by Wu-Tang Clan member Raekwon in their video for »Can It Be All So Simple«. The Polo Sport Snow Beach jacket he is wearing had a market value of about $6,000 among collectors before its re-release in 2018. Besides Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger profited the most from the new image he got from the hip hop community after Raekwon and the rest of the Wu-Tang Clan got his clothes.
But talking about Raekwon you must not forget Ghostface Killah. Just like his friend, he always enjoyed clothes that are actually more suited for old men. His love for Clarks wallabees even goes so far that he calls himself Wallabee Champ. A list of all his verses that thematize the cult shoe with the crepe sole would go beyond the scope of this article. The Wallabee, which is visually reminiscent of Moccasins, has long since ceased to be a shoe for old folks, thanks to its many supporters in the hip hop scene. Collaborations with the likes of MF DOOM, BAIT and Supreme New York have finally burned the shoe into the minds of sneaker and streetwear enthusiasts. And when styled correctly, the Wallabee is, in my opinion, just as fresh as a Nike Air Force 1.
Of course, Clarks Originals knows exactly who is responsible for this hype. That’s why you can now get the third collaboration of the two giants Clarks Originals and Wu Wear on July 20th. The Clarks Originals x Wu Wear Wallabee comes in three colorways, which clearly follow the lyrics of the legendary rap crew from Shaolin. The two songs »Glaciers of Ice« and »Ice Cream« from Raekwon’s debut album »Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…« served as inspiration. The whirled pattern is reminiscent of melting ice, the chosen colours allude to the flavours described in »Ice Cream«. Considering that Ghostface Killah already described what the perfect pair of Clarks Wallabees should look like in the intro to »Glaciers of Ice« in 1995, it’s definitely time to put his ideas into practice:
»Just imagine you bought navy blue, right
A navy blue, a navy blue pair right, boom
Of this, of this shit, know what I’m saying?
But dyed get this dyed cream on top
Just imagine that color like
But you got it dripping like it’s marble cake like…«
In addition to the Blue & Cream version described by Tony Starks, the Clarks Originals X Wu Wear Wallabee is also available in the two colourways Caramel and Cream. Because if there are two things that every Wu-Tang fan knows, it’s these:
»Even caramel sundaes is getting touched and scooped in my ice cream truck. Wu tears it up.«
»Cash Rules Everything Around Me – C.R.E.A.M., get the money«
Like »Only Built 4 Cuban Linx…« all three Wallabees stand out with their attention to detail. In addition to the Nubuck upper with digital marble cake print, which supposedly does justice to Ghostface Killah’s wildest dreams, the shoe also convinces with its full leather lining and trim, the classic crepe sole and branded footbeds. The branded leather fob further complements the design, but it can of course be removed if it is too much for your liking. Whether worn with or without the fob, the shoe is just as suitable for a meeting with your parents-in-law as it is for freestyle cyphers in Staten Island.
Discover the Clarks Originals x Wu Wear collaboration at HHV:
Visual Content: Clarks Originals