Clarks Desert Boots Review – Is it Worth It Series – Suede vs. Leather Chukka Boots


Welcome back to the Gentleman’s Gazette and
our series, is it worth it? Today, we discuss the iconic Clarks leather boot, the history,
the style or construction, different materials, and of course, whether it’s worth your money
or not. In 1941, Nathan Clark, who was the great grandson
of the founder James Clark, was deployed to Burma in Myanmar which is north of Thailand.
Before he left, his family requested to keep an eye out for new shoe models or anything
that might be advantageous for their company. While abroad, Nathan noticed very simplistic
chukka boots with a crepe sole that was worn by officers. When he inquired, he figured
out that most of those came from a bazaar in Cairo, Egypt. He was immediately fascinated
by that simplistic boot, with that innovative new sole that wasn’t really around in traditional
menswear and he was convinced that would be a great idea for the company. So he sent sketches
back home in the hopes that the company would pick up production. The desert boot was somewhat
revolutionary in the sense that suede uppers and crepe soles were something associated
with lower classes, not elegant gentlemen. Even though Nathan was really enthusiastic,
the company board thought it will never sell. Determined and convinced of his idea, Nathan
crossed a pond to exhibit his shoe in 1949 at the Chicago shoe show. There he was able
to show to influential editors and people, in general, liked it. It was a more casual
boot alternative that had been unseen at this point in time. With all that positive feedback
and encouragement, he went back to England and produced the first range of desert boots
which were sold exclusively in the US. In 1950, the original boot looked pretty similar
to this. It was a sand colored suede which he got from Charles F Steed which is an English
tannery specializing in suede leathers that still exists today. He chose the color sand
because it closely resembled the sand in Egypt and so the name desert boot really made sense,
at the same time, the boot referenced its desert origins. In the US, it was a successful
boot and because of that, it eventually sold in the UK as well.It became popular in the
pop cultures in the 60s and 70s and it was worn by famous movie stars such as Steve McQueen
or others like Bob Dylan, even the Beatles wore them. While the original desert boot
was made in England, made of English leather, it is now mostly made in Asia with a few exceptions
of making it in Italy. That being said, desert boot is still by far the most iconic and best
selling shoe in the whole clarks lineup. So now the big question, are Clarks desert
boots worth it? So first of all, there are three versions
on the market today. Ironically, all of them are called original. First, you have the original
in a suede leather with a crepe sole that costs 130 dollars, it’s made in Vietnam just
like the other original suede boots that use a waxed leather on top. It has a nice pull
up effect but it’s not quite the original. In my opinion, for $190, you get a original
Clarks desert boot that is made in Italy with a crepe sole and English suede leather from
Charles F Steed, the same tannery that created the original boot. So first of all, let’s determine the difference
between the $190 Clarks desert boot and 130 dollar version. Supposedly, the expensive
version is more hard-wearing and luxurious. I have to say the leather is quite nice, it’s
a soft supple suede leather and on the inside, you can find a scotch grain like texture.
What that means is simply the suede is reversed which is very typical of a leather that you
see from steed. On the other hand, the less expensive version has a suede like texture
on both sides which means the smoother outside was sanded down and overall, $190 boot has
definitely a more superior leather. I’ve had other shoes with leather from Charles F Steed
and it’s very durable, very nice leather. I think on the Clarks boots, they did a good
job on not making it too soft. I have a pair of boots with steed leather from Allen Edmonds
which is quite soft and comfortable to wear but at the same time, it doesn’t keep its
shape. Now of course, the country of manufacturing is different. Vietnam likes the heritage tradition
of England and Italy, at the same time, the labor costs are much lower which are passed
on to you as a consumer. That being said, quality can be made anywhere just like crap
and if you want to learn more about the discussions of the impact where something is made, please
check out this guy on the website here. At the end of the day, they have skilled laborers
in Vietnam who are eager to learn new skills and if taught correctly, they can turn out
a very consistent product that’s very similar to what you’d find from England or Italy,
at least, when we talk about a factory made shoe setting. In terms of construction, the
expensive and inexpensive boot are the same. Both have some kind of stitching, both have
a crepe sole even though it’s different; the Italian made one has a more textured crepe
sole which is typically what you find in crepe sole shoes, the less expensive $130 version
has smoother crepe soles and it’s definitely a different crepe. Personally, I prefer the
190 dollar version. If you look at the last, it seems identical to me and there’s really
no difference between a made in Italy and a made in Vietnam version. As I mentioned,
the leather is quite a bit different. The steed leather is definitely the best and thus
also on a more expensive shoe. The waxed leather on the Clarks desert boot is quite a bit harder
than the suede ones and because the original was a suede, I would personally always prefer
to have a suede desert boot and skip the waxed leather one. That being said, the waxed leather
develops a nice patina, it has a pull up effect, and you’ll see any kind of scratch you create
on it. So if that’s something you will like, it’s definitely worth looking into. When it comes to the welt, you see a higher
stitch density on the Italian version than on the less expensive version. Normally, on
a Goodyear welted shoe, a higher stitch density indicates a higher quality but in this case,
the shoes are not Goodyear welted and I don’t think it matters in everyday life. Both versions
have two rows of eyelets. The less expensive version has metal rivets, the Italian version
doesn’t have any rivets. The shoelaces on the Italian version are better, the waxed
cotton on the other ones, they’re just regular cotton or a polycotton so you can tell there
are slight differences. The original desert boot from Nathan Clark had orange contrast
stitching on the boot which made it different. None of the boots that I have here actually
have that stitching which again, makes me wonder why they call it the original. Clearly,
they must only refer to the style of the last. Inside of the shoe, you don’t find any lining
as discussed before and there’s an insole that is slightly padded in the back. Interestingly,
the made in Italy is highlighted versus the made in Vietnam is not. In terms of fit, walkability, and comfort,
I find it to be all very similar. In terms of sizing, I think the Clarks run true-to-size
if at all, a little smaller. I got a US 11 or a UK 10, sometimes I wear UK 10 and a half
so keep that in mind, otherwise, I think they have a very average fit. They’re a little
wider in the heel but I have very slim heels. If you usually were Goodyear welted dress
shoes, the Clarks will feel a lot softer. If you are used to trainers, you might think
you have to break them in. It’s all upon perspective! So is it worth it? What’s the verdict? I think
the $190 version definitely wins on the quality front; it has nicer leather, nicer stitching,
master details, better shoe laces, and definitely a better leather. In terms of value, I think
the made in Vietnam version wins simply because these slight differences are not worth the
$60 difference which is almost 50% based on a lower 130 dollar price point.
So apart from that, the big question is, our Clarks desert boots worth it in general? Well it depends. I would say yes, they are
worth it if your wardrobe in general leans towards the casual end because the crepe sole
of these boots are only suited for casual outings. They’re also not a winter boot or
suited for colder weather at all. Because there’s no lining and just a single layer
of leather, your feet would freeze very quickly. I think Clarks desert boots are worth it if
you appreciate the understated simplistic look of them and if you wear a lot of denim
jeans, maybe chinos, they’re definitely not suited to your wardrobe if you wear suits,
maybe dress pants, or other kinds of slacks, because they simply clash in terms of formality.
So if you plan to wear it frequently, I think they’re worth 130 dollars, if you want to
splurge on $190 version you definitely don’t make a mistake but if you’re tight on money,
you’re just fine going with $130 version. So what color and style combination should
you go for? Well, the original one is a sand colored suede
boot with a crepe sole and I think if you’re interested in authenticity, that’s the version
I would buy. Of course, that light tone of leather also stains more easily, shows dirt
and signs of wear very quickly, so if you prefer, you can go with darker Suedes or if
you’re not a fan of suede, you can also go with other colors. Overall personally, I’d
stick in the brown range. If you want to be a little more flamboyant, you can go with
blue or other bolder colors but at the end of the day, that limits you considerably in
terms of flexibility and variety in your wardrobe because you can only wear it with very specific
pants and outfits. I think clarks desert boots are not worth it overall if you like to dress
up because in that case, I suggest you go with a leather sole it creates a nicer sound
and it’s simply more elegant. Personally I’m also not a a big fan of the clarks desert
boot last it’s very round boring and a bit clunky in my opinion. I prefer longer lasts
maybe with a slight chisel such as on this chukka boot here so overall for myself I don’t
think a clarks desert boot is worth the investment simply because I have other chukka boots that
I like more if I didn’t have a chukka boot at all I would probably go for the $190 versions
that’s made in Italy simply because I appreciate the better leather. So that’s it for this video if you enjoyed
it, please give us a thumbs up subscribe to our channel hit the little Bell so new is
it worth it videos come right to your inbox and if you like this series please check out
the others. I’m certain you’ll love them as well. So in today’s video i am wearing a very casual
outfit which I would typically wear if it was a frequent chukka boot wearer it consists
of a button-down collar dress shirt with a checked pattern in white dark grey and blue
my pants are denim or jeans in a dark blue wash it is a little weathered and my socks
are shadow striped socks in blue and red from Fort Belvedere honestly I could combine this
outfit with all three chukka boots the sand one would provide quite a bit of contrast
there’s the classic the waxed leather one with a pull up effect goes well because it’s
a medium brown and even the dark chocolate brown would look very
good with it the other thing to keep in mind is to match your belt color to your boots
I know it’s difficult to match it 100% exactly so you don’t have to go for that try to keep
it in the same realm and you’ll look quite smart.

100 Comments

  • What's your take on Clarks Desert boots?

  • I am from Burma (Myanmar)

  • MY latest clarks boots (wax leather) have certainly NOT been worth the price I paid,,they where made in viet,, and have had numerous failers,,inner soles worn though inside a month ,,lices broke the following month and a few months later it needs resoling ..So no value for me…

  • I always enjoy your videos. However, please note the difference in meaning between the words "simplistic" and "simple." "Simplistic" is a pejorative term typically used to characterize ideas or ways of thinking. The uncluttered design of an object, on the other hand, can be positively described as "simple." Best wishes.

  • of course theyre worth it. they're cheap, rugged and tasteful.

  • the originals in clarks originals refers to their heritage/lifestyle line, not to the original model/colorway released. you can find the desert trek, wallabee, lugger, natalie or the newer trigenic among others. while the clarks main line covers their dress shoes

  • Sven always has exclusive information, nobody else can provide.

  • We also called them brothel creepers in the 60's.

  • Desert London for me. The top edge of the boot always cut around my ankle and the lower style of the Desert London gave me the same look (and material) with a better fit.

  • I wouldn’t say they are not winter boots. They are excellent for mild winters, especially the beeswax leather which is water resistant. Also the crepe insulates the foot from hot pavement in the summer and the boot breathes very well. Much cooler than trainers. In summary, a “desert” boot, good for hot days and cold nights.

  • Love this shoe. I have been wearing these since "Woodstock Baby!

  • Great review. Thank God you didn't bore me with the stupid unboxing gig so many reviewers employ. Keep up the good work.

  • Thanks for the video. Can either of these be resoled after the sole and heel wears?

  • I love how he mentioned how they where popular with the mod subculture! 🎯

  • speak english!

  • when i buy clark shoes i get them in a cardboard box.the assistant will charge me 5p for a plastic bag. i never take the cardboard box and ask the assistant to retain the box for recycle. can i sell the box back to clarks for say……5p?

  • Suede is not your friend if you live in a rainy climate. For that reason it is leather only for me

  • i just bought my clarks dark brown suede desert boots, paid only 55 bucks.

  • The jeans didn’t match with the pants the pants match more with high top western boots

  • Thanks for the information

  • So I bought mine in 1995 sand gray which historically explained is the original color. They were 95USD in a factory store here in Las Vegas. They fit so well and were so comfortable that I bought the waxed version for my travels in wet weather as they shed water better. And yes both have developed a great patina and I still wear them today with the only repair being replacing the laces when they wore out about 3 years ago. Oh and yes they were made in England. Classic bu I'm now in the process of buying a pair of rm Williams in chestnut. And yes they are still made in Australia.

  • Roomers are the best I wore them in the British Army and still wear them today in the summer with a beige cotton suit!

  • speak louder man

  • I have a pair of Clarkes Deserts in suede….and they cripple me. Fit perfectly but give me blisters after around a hour of wear……

  • I bought the desert boots a few years ago. Initially I loved them, but then I gradually hated them. The arch support is non-existent so I had to buy in-soles. But then the in-soles would make my boots feel a bit strange. They look nice but so uncomfortable.

  • Absolutely agree. Strictly casual with denim, gingham check shirts, and casual khakis.

    Worn that way…. they are a good niche item.

    Red wing makes an interesting high quality chukka boot called the “Foreman”. Better last and toe taper.

  • As a desert native and current desert dweller, these are useless for desert use. City use only. These leave much too much ankle available for snake bites and insect stings. Stick to real boots.

  • excuse me sir,I would be grateful if you can add subtitle on this video,thank you very much 🙂

  • G-Easy

  • How about all black suede desert boot can you wear them with a lot ?

  • Just found your channel. Instant sub

  • Dark Brown with the light colored sole/bottom looks off, I wish it was a dark/black instead.

  • I trully enjoyed this mans presentation much more then the others, I dont care for Ebonics & gangland gestures! Im sold on the Clark's desert boots from Italy. very nice in deed. Thanks for your time

  • My current pair is 10 years old and still wearing

  • I too don't like matching the belt 100% with the shoes, keeping it in the same category – or realm, as you said – is most smart. For me, if I'm wearing blue shoes I don't wear a blue belt – if I had a blue belt, it would be too unique of a design/colour so it would just look off and odd with any blue shoe of any material – so instead of blue belt I go with brown belt with the blue shoes.
    Conversely, going with a blue belt and brown shoes is a no-no by default. Unless it was workable depending on the specific features of the outfit, it should never be done.

  • I love this boots

  • I love desert boots, but this jeans are too baggy for my taste, I think the boots would have been better with a more fitted jeans.

  • I worked in Clarks in the US for a few years. The term "Original" now pretty much means the line of shoes in Clarks. Pretty much anything with a crepe sole will be considered an Original, so Desert Treks, Desert Mali, Wallabees, and so on, and are usually available only on the Clarks retail stores or on their websites (and Amazon, I guess). Bushacre 2 is the cheaper, outlet alternative,- technically an Original but not really, which you can find in other retailers, but the sole and leather are significantly different: the sole on the Bushacre is a more synthetic rubber, cheaper leather material, and in my opinion, stiffer. I've had a lot of people claim that they found Desert Boots cheaper somewhere else, only to show me a picture of a Bushacre; not the same thing!

    Desert Boots generally run a half size, to a whole size bigger, so if you're a size 9, you might want to try an 8.5, or even an 8. So I'm surprised that yours run smaller. Keep in mind, they stretch once you break them in, and your boots look pretty new, so that might get really loose later on. In women's sizes, they run tight, so one may need to go up half a size, but they stretch out a lot, so don't go up too many sizes because once you wear them in, they'll be pretty loose (Stores also stretch any Clarks shoe for free, so if you buy a pair that's a little too tight, but is the right length, ask an associate to stretch it for you). Also, for those wondering, the Desert Boots don't come in wider widths. Again they stretch, so you might be lucky once you wear them in, but if you have a very wide foot, go with another style. The Bushacre 2 DOES come in wide, however just the beeswax, and not in the other colors .

    And the laces for the generic Desert Boots break easily. They don't give out free laces anymore, but they might have some available to purchase on the Clarks website (Provided they haven't sold out). If they're out, find a place that sells shoelaces and find the right length, they'll last longer anyway.

    Beeswax boots are generally more popular, in in my opinion, easier to maintain. Sure, they scratch and scuff as shown on the video, but just rub some beeswax on there with a rag and you'll have them look new again. Suede needs some cleaning, but is easier to break in and is just softer in general. Also, the have traction from the crepe, but they are NOT slip resistant, so don't use them where there's grease or oils (Have had people in restaurants ask if this is a good shoe for their job. No).

    The expensive, imported from England/Italy ones are handmade with higher materials, which is why it's more expensive. They're also sturdier from what I've seen.

    You also get seasonal colors that only come once a year, so if you like getting the Desert Boots in fancy colors, check the end of the season when the seasonal colors go on sale. (Beeswax, brown, black, and other neutral colors are available year round, so will not go on sale, and are pretty much always excluded from sales and promos. Read your fine print!!)

    Also, the quality has changed over the years, at least from what older customers have told me. I've had some die-hard fans ask us to hunt down older Desert Boots with a very specific SKU# because the newer versions "just don't feel the same". You'll be able to tell by the logos inside the insole, or even just the box- that's the most obvious sign. The older versions definitely won't be in the retail stores anymore, as they had all been shipped to the outlets when I still worked there, and even finding them in outlets will be difficult unless you wear a larger size shoe (like 12 or 13).

    For me, I'd agree and say it's worth it. It is pretty flat, so if anyone needs arch support, this may not be the shoe for you; unless you get a size larger and put an insole in. They last a very long time, and have a great casual or semi-formal look that has been in circulation for a long time, which means that it's definitely a Clarks favorite.

  • The problem with these boots is the crepe soles just get so dirty nasty looking on the sides and the bottom.

  • What is the colorway of the original leather ones?

  • Can't stand suede, so I went for the wax leather thinking that it was hard leather. Yeah, my mistake. Fell apart after 2 months. First Clarks shoes to ever do so. Buyer beware!

  • Sizing is fucked up though. Is it really supposed to be loose on the heel?

  • Only mods can wear these

  • I had a pair of Clarks back in the 70s they were comfortable but they were made badley the toungue would always come out when ya walk I never bought another pair and yes Clarks still sell that pair, Several companies are in Vietnam now ,they are not made very good ,kinda small. I just bought a name brand boot that was made in Vietnam ,they are smaller in size as well.

  • I think i would prefer the slightly more elegant / luxury chukka boots, those with a heel and shinier leather, more like chelsea boots.

  • Terrible pants

  • I love my Clark's desert boots….I hear what this fellow is saying, very informative!!! But I disagree with HIS choice in style, as I feel, and am sure HE does as well, a matter of personal preference….

  • I miss my dad he likes these kind of shoes

  • I've been wearing desert boots for about 8 years, my one complaint is that the crepe sole isn't waterproof. Even walking on wet sidewalk for a long time leads to wet socks.

  • Bought a pair from the clarks store, last four months, the right shoe sole came apart from the actual shoe. Went back to clark and was asked if id like to buy a new pair……um…..No

  • Nice video

  • Love your style!

  • Icon Style all Era's

  • Out of all the Clarks shoes I’ve owned I’ve never purchased the desert 👢 boot. They’re rather clunky. I like the suede chukka boots he wore by other brand better . Anyone knows the brand ?

  • Just got my 1st pair of Navy blue chukkas, but definitely the sand suede will be my next purchase. Thanks for the info.!

  • Great vid, but it’s very difficult to understand you

  • I love my Clark desert boots

  • I'm from Jamaica……Clark's ✌🖐🤘

  • It is pronounced leath-er , not letter . Nice shoes !

  • In the early 70's I wore desert boots with one interesting, and I thought, very atractive difference. Rather than having visible stiches the uppers were stiched on the inside, giving what I felt was a slightly more elegant look to the useful casual shoes. I've never been able to find anything like those and would love to find something constructed in a similar manner.

    By the way, I picked up a pair of "Bata boots" in Kenya and wore them for something like 15 years before they became too soiled and stained to use. I had them resoled once, and never had any construction problems with the durable chukka boots by Bata.

  • Now I can’t unseen you in jeans.😱😱😱😱

  • They are designed for walking on the desert , I mean they are good for walk on the soft surfaces, but not on the paved roads, where the surface is hard, I had an experience with the boots that day wearing them walking on the city, my forefoot were seriously hurt, really uncomfortable that night I put off the boots, now they are putting in the corner waiting opportunity to be put on again, anyway I like them.

  • Just ordered desert boot in 8.5 which is my usual sneaker size… hope they fit 😭😬

  • I find crepe soles lethal in wet weather, I fell over twice when I was walking home after a downpour.

  • Im size 8 wide or 8.5 US. My boot is 7.5 US but the more I wear it.. it starts to get too loose on the heel making it more difficult to walk. Its easier with thicker socks and orthopedics.

    Does the smaller size cause this? What would it be?

  • I believe Steve McQueen wear Sanders Chukka Boots.

  • the history of the desert boot goes further back to the 17th century in the dry karoo region of South Africa. The Dutch combined the native Khoisan shoe with their own 17th century Dutch shoe designs worn by the sailors to form what is called the Veldskoen, Dutch Afrikaans for field shoe.

  • Amazing video but way to much eye contact

  • The shoe was make popular by Clarke but the shoe that he copied was the South African Veldskoen, imported from South Africa to Cairo. The Veldskoen has been around since the 17th century, which itself was a copy of local Khoisan footwear.

  • I have two pairs, love them for spring and summer.

  • The British army issued this style of boot but they had thicker soles. I saw them during Deserted Storm. 1990-91

  • Ask a jamaican if they like Clark's

  • Clark's Desert Boots as originally made in England were NOT clumpy or chunky at all. They were tapered toward the toes. When my last English pair succumbed, I went to a Clark's shop, asked for Desert Boots and was presented with the bulbous Vietnamese version. No thanks…. !

    When I want Desert Boots I'll go to for a proper English shoemaker who knows what shape they should be! Yes they'll be more expensive….true quality is….but they'll look right and last.

    Clark's have gone cheap….in quality.

  • Mine are made in Vietnam and have the more texture sole and the leather on the inside!
    I found them brand new in a thrift store and i paid 4$

  • What are these? They look like Man UGGs or slippers. I prefer my Irish Setter 83605 & 838's

  • They don't have 10/ in shoe size!

  • Will buy one of these before the year is done.

  • I can't seem to find the dark brown $190 CDB on their site nor amazon; Has it been discontinued?

  • I can't wear these , they look like old man boots to me.

  • Been wearing Clark’s since the mid 90s

  • thanks for the info!!

  • I had a pair a few years ago and they became uncomfortable and I tended to turn my ankle in them a lot. I would not recommend these to people who are prone to foot pain or ankle turning. If that is your problem, I recommend the Keen Portsmouth

  • 1.25x speed

  • So i am a size 9 semi wide foot what size should i get?
    Should i get 8.5 because i own a clarks black shoes size UK 7 what do you think should i get Us 8.5?

  • I was in a bind and needed some nice looking boots for cheap. I saw these at Macy's on sale for $50 and immediately noticed they were stitch down and the suede felt great. I bought a pair and walked five miles in them the next day, could not be more happy with how they felt and looked. I will be wearing these exclusively through university. Mine is made in India

  • I just went to the Clarks store on Madison Ave in New York, Wallabees in every color, we're hot for the summer !

  • They are not..

    suit able

  • I love my beeswax desert Clark boots

  • Just bought mine today. 50 bux

  • Mod where wearing these with suits In the 1960’s. It’s the boot that kicked-started a thousand scooters. From America college campus to the streets of London’s Soho it was the only boot to be seen in the summer time. A fine looking example of the shoemaker’s art!

  • Jeans should never touch the boot. NEVER! Get some turn ups in those Jeans.

  • I never thought my feet would freeze wearing desert boots.

  • Most iconic Clark's shoe is wallaby

  • These boots are beautiful where are they from 10:07 ? Thanks all boots look great. 👍🏽

  • So he basically stole the design?

  • Where do you get the MAde in Italy boots? I can't find a website.

  • Check Jamaica you probably fine 50 clacks factory 😂😂😂

  • You can get a different brand to Clarks and save a lot of money on what is really Summer footwear in the UK. Roomers desert boots are between £25 to £30. Soles don’t last forever but at that price they area disposable item.

  • I'll wear it in suede or leather canvas, every color

  • i bought a pair of clarks today as a dress shoe. i have really wide feet and the only shoe i could find in the whole mall that fit were these. im excited to dress up soon

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