Clarks: Durable Shoes for Cairo’s Rough Streets at Genena Mall
Genena Mall, El Batrawy St.
Hunting for something that is both durable and trendy around shoe shops in Cairo is no easy task, but one international brand is bridging the gap. Clarks Shoe Company began business in 1825, when a tannery worker in the quaint English Midlands opened his first shop selling his breakthrough invention: sheepskin slippers. Since these humble beginnings, Clarks has boomed into an international brand, which has become a staple on the world’s high streets.
Once, Clarks was notorious as the place where every August, fatigued parents who were fed up of replacing scuffed-to-death school shoes, could find reliable footwear for their little ones. Consequently, Clarks gained the reputation of putting durability before fashion and were blamed for us all walking round the playground in the shoe equivalent of the hard hat; and yes, the ugly things lasted for years. However, these days, Clarks has stepped up its game and managed to put trendy back into the sensible shoe.
We visited one of Clarks’ Cairo outlets in Genena Mall to see whether it is actually possible to make a good-looking shoe which can endure Cairo’s perilous streets. The shop is very small, but unlike some of the other non-branded shoe shops in the mall, their presentation was well thought out; one point to practicality. The shop features both men’s and women’s footwear, but nothing for children, which is a real shame, as the modern range of Clarks kids shoes are bright and fun.
There was only one row of Clarks’ own brand shoes, stuffed away on a low shelf, only in men’s styles. These included casual shoes and sandals for 490LE, or the traditional bulky brogue, which looked durable, as well as being bang on trend. They cost 720LE but are sure to be a good investment that could be useful for every wedding, interview and funeral over the years. Although there are very few styles available, what they did have varied from matte black to rusty brown, all with authentic leather and proper heeling.
Other brands available at Clarks include Lloyds Shoes from Germany, which looked to have the same sort of ethos and price range as Clarks. Plus, there were some trainers with Gortex skin for 1180LE, if any shoppers need something really heavy duty.
The women’s range includes shoes from Austrian brand, Hogl, and Unisa which brands itself as ‘Mediterranean’. Some of Hogl’s heels looked quite dowdy, but there were no sparkles or outrageous tottering heels in sight, and instead everything looked easy to walk in. Unisa’s pretty pumps cost around 640LE, while they also had flats with on-trend studs for 520LE, plus wedges and platform shoes such as the fashion magazines dictate we must all wear. None of the shoes were cutting edge, but all came in sophisticated styles, with dainty detailing in quality fabrics.
Indeed, Clarks has come a long way from the rural English village where it all started and its shoes range has also picked up the pace to become a trendy international brand, offering shoes that look good, while being fit for the trial that is Cairo’s streets.