Drake Puts OVO Imprint on Clarks Desert Boot

Drake seems quite the laid back type, especially in his music. With songs like “Find Your Love” and “Controlla” that make you want to “dutty wine” on the dance floor. He is known for creating feel-good music with a Caribbean vibe, displaying how much he enjoys the good life and with a pretty laid-back approach to everything he does. But what we can all agree with is that the “Jumpman” rapper is serious about his personal style. So it is no surprise that since his career has catapulted, he has made deals with major brands like Jordan to create his own products. Recently, Drake has managed to team up with footwear titan Clarks to pay homage to the classic Desert Boot with his own limited edition OVO x Desert Boot.

If you haven’t heard of the iconic Desert Boot, either you must have been under a rock or you really must have been under a rock. Clarks has been a mainstay in the footwear industry for more than over a century, while other brands seem to have gone as quickly as they have come, or could not withstand the test of time or footwear evolution. Whatever the case may be, it really is a major deal (pun seriously intended) for such a classic company to join forces with a pop culture icon.

Now back to the Desert Boot.

Its rich history began in 1941, in England where Clarks co-founder Nathan Clark designed a boot that allowed his fellow soldiers, also called “desert rags” who had to acclimatize into society post-war but needed a comfortable boot style they could wear at home. Additionally, the desert boot was suitable for those fighting in the desert, hence the name.  Since then, men, women and children from the streets of Somerset to New England have been wearing the timeless yet versatile boot, that shows no signs of retirement any time soon, especially with such creative partnerships as with Drake.

What also makes this collaboration pretty special is that Drake is not shy about his tribute and love for all people, places, and “tings” Caribbean. The Desert Boot became the epitome of cool by the “rude boys”, a Jamaican term coined for men who exude the bad boy persona. And if you knew better, you wouldn’t dare leave home without a pair on your feet. They understood that the desert boot has a ” je ne sais pas quoi” that makes a t-shirt and jeans look so polished and refined.  Jamaicans have embraced the desert boot into their culture to the extent that even a Clarks song was even created! So how befitting of Drake to give the classic footwear an update!

The collection has all the wonderful things that make the desert boot imitated, but never duplicated: the notable crepe sole, sleek design that’s virtually unchanged since the boot’s inception, and the hand crafted textiles by Clarks elite footwear engineers. What makes the OVO edition so distinctive is Drake’s October’s Very Own or OVO owl eyes-and-beak logo is embossed onto the suede, a golden owl on the lust-worthy Originals tag that comes with every desert boot designed, and mantra “Know Yourself” is also embossed on the inside of the tongue, so as the wearer is slipping them on, there is a gentle reminder to be a fearless individual. The collection comes in three colors: oakwood suede and black (which are already key colors in Clarks Original’s Collection), and a stunning purple.

Golden owl? Purple suede? Both are symbolic to Drake’s branding success. Is is also foretelling of his reign as prince of hip hop? Hmmmm. You decide while you hurry to grab a pair of these boots. If they aren’t soled out already. Yes, soled out.

Note: my original post is also on Level 21 Magazine’s website.

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FENTY x Puma SS17 Review

Rihanna made her Paris Fashion Week debut last year with her highly anticipated SS17  FENTY x PUMA Fashion show set in Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild. The collection is full of luxury athleisure styles from baseball caps to hoodies. Models wore the coveted Creeper sneakers from her debut collection. Her furry flip flops the masses has grown to love, and other brands have begun to copy, are updated with satin bows. Pink ruffles, money green hooded sweatsuits, corsets, and FENTY fans paid an edgy and sporty homage to Marie Antoinette, an 18th century Bad Girl who definitely didn’t play by the rules.

Rihanna was inspired by imagery during previous visits to Versailles in France where she shot a campaign for Christian Dior, and discovered that Marie Antoinette graced those same hallways. Describing her collection as “regal with a perfect mix of street & sportswear”, Rihanna is quickly establishing herself as a style icon and influencer in the fashion world. It is refreshing to see someone like her push the envelop and defy whatever rules people tend to think are fashionable.

Fashion is an art form, and creativity is the key to successfully expressing it. She recently unveiled her PUMA SS17 footwear, featuring a stiletto-sneaker, flip flops and booties with silk bows, with a slightly softer approach than her more gothic collection from 2016. Footwear is now on sale at Neiman Marcus, Champs Sports, Asos and Six02.

Payless is Rebooting its Brand

Bargain footwear titan Payless ShoesSource recently announced that it will be shutting down 400 of its US stores, 378 of which are U.S. & Puerto Rico locations. Payless is the latest addition to the growing list of retailers that have already filed bankruptcy this year. (Read story on Wetseal). On Tuesday, the retailer filed a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, in a US Bankruptcy court in Missouri. Don’t fret, Payless fans, the purpose of the bankruptcy filing is to protect its current assets while reorganizing the brand, since it claims to have more liabilities than assets ($1 billion in assets vs $10 billion in liabilities). Since that is the case, it is definitely a clever strategy to eliminate the stores that are no longer profitable and replace them with other sources of revenue.

Although many of the stores may be closing, Payless still plans to “continue business in the ordinary course in terns of customers, vendors, partners and associates.” For those who wonder whether stores may close in their area, Payless still has an ecommerce presence where goods can be purchased online. With the store closing across the nation, one thing to look forward to is the huge closeout sales with a lot of merchandise marked down for low, low prices. And who doesn’t like a deal? Payless plans to rebuild their brand and make it better. That says a lot about a company, that can admit when things must change and improve to not only increase sales, but to also appease their customer. This also determines the successfulness of a brand, whether it can show resiliency amid financial turmoil. It will be exciting to see what the Payless has in store for the future.

For store closings in your area, click here.

Read my original post on Level 21 Magazine’s Blog here.

GiuseppeXJennifer: A Match Made in Footwear Heaven

On Level 21 Magazine’s blog, I recently reported that Jenny from the Block, aka the Puerto-Rican triple threat from South Bronx, has launched a shoe collection with Giuseppe Zanotti, the Emperor of Glam. Not a stranger to fashion, we have seen her give us a mean sashay down the catwalk with her killer dancer legs for over two decades. With titles such as singer, actress, clothing designer, mother, and American Idol Judge strapped across her tiny waist like a champion belt, it was almost instinctual yet reasonable to expect that Jennifer Lopez would add shoe designer to her list of accomplishments.

And why not team up with shoe designer Giuseppe Zanotti, who is notable for his sky-high, alluring designs. See, his luxurious footwear is for the daring, those who were born to stand out, and not blend in with the crowd. Without a doubt, JLo epitomizes just that. She is bold, fearless, and stunning. Recently, she was spotted celebrating arm-in-arm with her partner-in-glamour (and business) Zanotti. In true fashion (bask in the pun with me for a moment), she attended the launch wearing marvelous ankle strap heels from her own collection.

As we all would hope, the tawny beauty wanted the line to mirror her own personal style. To make the collection even more personal for her, JLo named the shoes after the women in her life. Inherently she knew the shoe names almost immediately after Zanotti implored her to do so. She has shoes named after her daughter Emme, her sisters Leslie-(after whom the ankle strap heel seen above, is named) and Lynda, and her cousin Tiana. They remind her to stay grounded throughout her journey, just like her fabulous shoes that keep her feet firmly in place.