NEW DIRECTION: Jason Beckley has lifted the veil on his fall 2017 collection for Clarks – his first – and the focus is on craft and tradition. Beckley, who was named chief brand officer in August 2015, has also been busy restructuring operations at the British heritage brand known for its desert boot and past collaborations with designers such as Orla Kiely and Christopher Raeburn.
Beckley said that internalizing operations was one of his biggest priorities. “I got rid of the consultants, agencies, processes and inward procedures and handed the brand back to the internal team. Everything you see from next season is their work,” said Beckley, highlighting the rugged details and underfoot comfort features of the fall 2017 shoes. One of the highlights of the upcoming collection is the Trace Dusk boot, a chocolate brown leather combat boot with chunky soles and lacing around the ankle.
Overall, he said the 2017 collection would feature “a combination of craft and tradition borne out in the shape, the material, the rugged techniques,” as well as the quality, fit and “fantastic underfoot comfort. I want people to really recognize a Clarks shoe when they see one.” He added there will be fewer product categories, “but they will be much more specific in their presentation, much more lifestyle influenced, less generic and less about gender. Diversity is the critical thing. I believe everybody should wear good shoes.”
Beckley said the feedback he gets from the large internal team is critical. “My marketing review meetings often involve up to 80 people. It’s important to have the opinion of all,” added Beckley.
Among his future plans for the British footwear label is the launch of a new Web site next year, aimed at helping the brand use other media channels to address the consumer.
Before joining Clarks, a brand he grew up with, as its factories were located seven miles from his childhood home, Beckley held a series of marketing roles at luxury fashion houses. He worked as global marketing director at Dunhill, senior vice president of marketing at Ralph Lauren, and had roles at Saint Laurent, Nike and Alexander McQueen.
At Dunhill, he focused on refining the brand message to reflect the mature consumer, while at Ralph Lauren he said he learnt to equate branding with lifestyle. Beckley also spoke of his time working for Alexander McQueen which taught him the value of trust. “It taught me about belief and trust. Lee (Alexander McQueen) allowed me to have responsibilities over image, marketing, product, strategy and creativity. He really trusted the people he believed in,” he recalled of the late designer.