LONDON — Martine Rose is taking over the Selfridges Corner Shop with her debut collection for Clarks as the brand’s first-ever guest creative director.
The experiential pop-up space has been transformed into a series of nostalgic bedrooms by set designer Polly Philp and is called “Coming Up Roses.”
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Rose said she wanted to evoke a sense of familiarity and comfort, qualities that Clarks was known for in the 1980s when it prided itself on being as cozy as a luxury mattress.
Rose said she and Clarks want people to lounge around on the beds. “We hope people are going to be exhausted from so much shopping that they take a nap in bed. We’ll be there to slip them on a pair of shoes from the new collection,” said Rose, who staged her own brand’s fall 2024 collection off-schedule during Paris Men’s Fashion Week last month.
The Jamaican-British designer said she likes to draw people into a scenario where they feel a part of something. She has done just that with so with many of her fashion shows, creating a market in Florence, a nightclub in Paris, or a community center in North London.
“You have to make people relate to it. That’s certainly how I like to engage with people. When we were designing how we wanted the whole thing to look and flow together, we looked at our own bedrooms. We sourced those universal things in our bedrooms.
“The level of detail that goes in is really unbelievable. There are things that maybe you don’t notice, but it all contributes towards this feeling of familiarity,” she added.
The pop-up showcases the new shoe range, a limited run of T-shirts, shoe care sets, posters, and a foot-measuring service.
“When you speak to most people about Clarks, usually the first thing they talk about is their first experience of going to Clarks. That was usually as a kid, and it was usually getting your foot measured.
“For everyone that I’ve spoken to, that was a positive experience. There is a luxury to it, this very bespoke feeling. No one else quite did it in that way. So that was definitely an element that we thought was so important to bring back,” said Rose.
Rose is no stranger to collaborations. She has a long-term collaboration contract with Nike, and tends to work on projects where there is “a genuine synergy.”
“It is genuinely is like that with Clarks. They’re just a wonderful company. They haven’t left Somerset [England]. They still are there. There is an ethos around the brand and how they employ and promote people is amazing.
“Of course, there’s the wider connection of it being so embedded in the U.K. culture particularly, and, of course, Jamaican culture. So that is a very obvious connection. Without making it sound too ridiculous, it is a dream collaboration,” said Rose.
The designer said she hopes this capsule can shine a little light on the brand’s largest — but less distinctive — mass market lineup.
“When I was employed, it was clear they had this pyramid. At the top is The Originals and that already has a fashion customer. At the bottom, they have the kids’ range. Every child, particularly in the U.K., goes to Clarks for their first shoe. It’s a rite of passage.”
The middle section, she said, is huge. “This is where it spreads all over the world. It’s solid and dependable. You can go there for all of your classic things, but it doesn’t necessarily have the focus and attention that the other two bits of the business do. Within this section, Clarks and I thought that I could bring the most value,” she said.
Rose was most interested in putting her spin on the evergreen items — solid, carryover styles that are almost always in the collection.
“In this instance, it was the men’s brogue, women’s heeled loafer, and walking sandal. These are things that they have in their collections [season after season]. I liked the idea of playing with the proportions and the silhouettes of these classic shoes,” she said, adding that a second collaboration with Clarks is under development.
She has reimagined the evergreen styles in different colors including oxblood, “brazen pink,” brown, green and black. The shoes have been done in leather and nylon. Some have snakeskin prints. The loafer style has a platform sole, and a unique inflated heel that adds about three inches of height to any look.
Following its Selfridges debut, the Martine Rose x Clarks installation will travel to Concept in New York; Voo Store in Berlin; Chamber in Singapore, and Tun Razak Exchange in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
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