Shoe retailer Clarks has been a feature of the U.K. high street for generations. Many Brits will associate it with being regularly dragged in as a child for the purchase of sensible, well-made school shoes. To celebrate the brand’s 200-year anniversary, the company has produced an interactive website that shows a heritage much richer and more non-conformist than might have been imagined.
“Clarks Unboxed,” created by agency BBH London, delivers 12 true stories tracking the history and evolution of the brand alongside the values that have shaped it. Beginning in the 1820s with the tale of two brothers James and Cyrus, who made fluffy sheepskin slippers as a sideline to their jobs in the rug-making trade, the content highlights significant people throughout the brand’s history.
Stories cover visits from Queen Victoria, how the company evolved during the Industrial Revolution, the appointment of a female director in 1903 (before women had the vote in the U.K.) and the creation of Clarks’ hugely popular desert boot. There is also some fun with The Avengers’ Honor Blackman’s Kinky Boots and the Wallabee, as seen on Breaking Bad’s Walter White.
Tracking through social upheavals and world events such as the Wall Street Crash, WWII, and the Swinging ’60s, each story is rich in design and illustrated with archive stills, composite images, illustration, and animation, woven together with a hand-stitched feel to make the experience as comfy as a Wallabee. Users can dip in and out as they choose on desktop, tablet, and mobile.
In a making-of video, copywriter Richard Cable and art director Vinny Olimpio discuss the process. “We had this idea that every element should move the story on,” says Cable, “From the art direction to the way the copy was written, to the way it was coded, the way the sound design was done–every single element was working as hard as it could, everything had meaning in it.” Olimpio apparently went through 14,000 images for the project.