No longer a “nice to have”: Clarks steps up its sustainability efforts


Footwear retailer Clarks Australia has established a new, four-year partnership with Aussie Ark – a not-for-profit organisation that protects endangered wildlife – as part of its plans for a more sustainable future. An asset of Brand Collective, Clarks is also set to sign a four-year partnership with Greenfleet, a local not-for-profit that restores native forests.  These mark the first conservation and sustainability partnerships for the Australian arm of the global footwear brand as it

as it looks to expand its local presence. 

Shortly after returning from Aussie Ark’s wildlife sanctuary in Barrington Tops in New South Wales, Clarks marketing manager Nikki Novakovic told Inside Retail that the team was excited to support such an amazing cause.

The partnership will enable Aussie Ark to continue implementing healthy ecosystems within its sanctuaries and roll out its re-wilding programs for vulnerable species. Clarks’ financial support will also assist Aussie Ark in expanding its land size, and the number of its enclosures.

Novakovic said that the partnership with Aussie Ark made a lot of sense for Clarks, which is known for its kids’ shoes in particular.

“Kids are passionate about animals and wildlife and, here in Australia, we have some of the most amazing wildlife that you can’t see anywhere else in the world,” she said.

“With Clarks’ wide- reaching platform, we [can] bring much- needed attention to the needs around protecting and conserving threatened Aussie wildlife.” 

Meanwhile, she said the upcoming partnership with Greenfleet will enable Clarks to plant trees and offset its carbon emissions.

“Sustainability is no longer nice to have,” she said.

“I’m a big believer in giving back to the community, and causes that matter. As a wider team, we felt quite strongly that we needed to give back.

“We didn’t have that set up, so this is a really big step for us.”

Fresh, modern and relevant

While Clarks Australia has been focusing on these sustainability initiatives, its global brand has had to recall products in the US and Canada, after tests found toxins in those products.

Its corporate responsibility website states that its chemical management program is built on stringent policies – which are reviewed and updated annually – and that it extensively tests products covering leather, synthetics, components, finished footwear and handbags. 

Novakovic said that she isn’t fully across what’s happening in the US or internationally, but ethical sourcing and sustainability is a big focus for the team.

“We have full transparency in where we manufacture our shoes and the suppliers we deal with, and there’s a great deal happening in [this space],” she said.

“Our sourcing and product manager are always looking for ways to sustainably source the materials that make up the shoes.”

She explains that Clarks’ US and UK branches are often releasing different collaborations, and that there are potential collaborations and fundraising initiatives in the works in Australia. 

“It is part of keeping [Clarks] fresh, modern and relevant, and doing things that matter,” she said.

Busiest period

Clarks Australia sells its products through two concept stores in Victoria and New South Wales, and across its e-commerce and wholesale channels.

According to Novakovic, the business hasn’t expanded over the last few years, partly because of the challenges related to the pandemic. However, the brand is now pursuing these discussions. 

Meanwhile, the upcoming back-to-school period, which kicks off on 9 January, is a huge focus for the brand.

“We do have a back to school collaboration with Minecraft, with several styles and colours that depict the different characters,” she said.

“We’re really focusing on driving [the back-to-school period] as much as we can.”

She adds that the imminent peak period is a big priority for almost every retailer.

“This is the busiest period for Clarks,” she said.

“We have Click Frenzy happening as we speak. That goes away, then Black Friday kicks in.

“Then the busy Christmas period. Once Boxing Day is finished, we hit back to school, which is our biggest focus.

“It’s plenty for us”


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