Clarks School Shoes – The Lowdown for Newbies

Hey new mums! (and Dads)

If you can afford a decent pair of shoes for your child when they start school, chances are you will opt for Clarks shoes. The brand has an enviable reputation which goes back several generations.

According to Clarks website “It began with a flash of inspiration. It was 1825 in the Somerset village of Street and James Clark was busy working at the tannery owned by his brother, Cyrus. Among the sheepskin rugs, the off-cuts and cast-offs were piling up when James had a brainwave: “Slippers!”. And the rest, as they say, is history.”

There is no doubt that the brand is well-established and a leading shoe brand. However the divide is huge between lovers and loathers!

So the likes of Mumsnet has many threads concerning Clarks shoes. From “Clarks Shoes – Are they Crap”, to “Am I a Bad Parent if I Don’t Buy My Child Clarks School Shoes”.

Personally, I started off being a supporter, then lost confidence big time, and ended up going back to them!

So, for the first 2 years I bought Clarks. Unlike other parents though my child’s shoes did NOT last a year like others did. The velcro was torn off and the stitching would be coming undone after a few weeks. I used to take them back to store and was delighted with the no-quibble replacement. As we progressed though the months and years I started to get concerned that they really weren’t touch enough for active kids. Finally I returned a paid, and thrust them at the manager. I explained that I did NOT want a refund nor did I want a replacement. He explained that the shoes are tested by children who attend a school in Devon and they were all OK – insinuating that there was something not quite right with us! He advised me to send them back – ME SEND THEM BACK!!! Pfffttt!!!! As if I have the time or inclination. This guy obviously knew nothing about lifetime customer value.  (lifetime customer value (LCV), or life-time value (LTV) is a prediction of the net profit attributed to the entire future relationship with a customer.)

SO I just left them on his counter and walk out.

Now, my punishment for haste was where do you buy school shoes from? I spend a long time trawling around shops, both independent and chains, checked out the supermarket shoes, and checked the trainer type shoes that are often assumed to be shoes. Finally I ended up in the local designer shoe shop and purchased NOEL brand. Awesome. They cost the earth but lasted ages. By the time we needed new ones, the said shop had closed! Disaster. SO this time I went to M&S after hearing good reviews. There wasn’t a school shoe in sight in the huge Owlcoates Centre in Leeds.

Asda had some but dear Lord – there was no way I would allow my child to wear these. Awful cheap looking shoes. So we opted for Next. Took a whole (SPARE) Saturday which we wasted looking for a half-decent school shoe. The reviews were poor, and the shoe was very narrow. Too narrow for my child.  But as we had no shoes we had to buy them. My child had blisters and had to resort to wearing pumps at playtime – as advised by the lunch time play staff as school.

We also had to get the NOEL shoes out again! My child had grown to the point wear some peers were laughing at the Noel “clown shoes’ which made me realise that locating another pair was not going to be an option.


Eventually the Next shoes no longer rubbed, and the NOEL shoes were once again chucked under the stairs, although I had every intention of putting them out for recycling.

Around 6 weeks later the Next shoes looks like they had been worn for a year. There was a large hole right through the front of the shoe, all the velcro was coming off and the rubber bits had come away allowing water in.

Thanks to my slackness in now recycling the NOELs they reappeared again from under the stairs and were once again worn.

Finally I went back to Clarks – there simply was no choice in the UK.  I must add though that now I go to the outlet centres and pay £26 rather than £41 – I am OK with this because I know they do not last I can actually justify the lower price. There is an outlet at the M62 outlet past Leeds and one at the end of the M55 towards Blackpool.

I hope that this helps other parents, and I do wish I had known all this at the start.


About Jennifer Reed