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Uptown Yardie shoe brand crowdfunder bid to assist Jamaica

PICTURED: Rohan and Natasha Marley

UPTOWN YARDIE is a husband and wife-owned shoe and lifestyle brand that have been going for just over two and a half years. Rohan and Natasha Clarke currently make middle to high end shoes which are mostly manufactured in Northampton, the heart of the British shoe making industry.

The company inspired by their Jamaican heritage specialises in stylist footwear for both men and women. The Uptown Yardie brand is synonymous with progressive individuals who do not follow fashion and the brand ethos is to create stylist products for a community of people neglected by mainstream fashion. Quality is also paramount to the Uptown Yardie brand.

The company is now embarking on a new direction in manufacturing the Yardie boot design in Jamaica using Jamaican products and creating employment for local people. And to do this, the husband and wife team are about to launch a crowdfunder to help them make this project sustainable and ready for the global market.

Rohan Clarke said: “Our style is very much inspired and influenced by our Jamaica heritage and our Yardie boot, which is our version of a desert boot plays homage to this.

“Our parents aim in coming to England in the 1950s was to make enough money to send home to support their families and to eventually return to start businesses in Jamaica. We want to carry on this legacy by creating something in Jamaica by Jamaicans that they could be proud of.”

STYLE: Uptown Yardie

Clarke also noted that many younger Jamaicans have a love affair with the desert boot and made it a much-loved fashion accessory. Jamaican reggae artists have influenced this popularity through their music and the way they dress, from artists including Gregory Issacs to Vybz Kartel, even immortalising this in songs.

Natasha Clarke said: “In 2015 when we started talking about the first range for Uptown Yardie Jamaica, it made complete sense to refresh our existing Yardie boot design and have it manufactured in Jamaica. By giving the contract production to a Jamaican factory is a great way of Jamaica taking ownership of a shoe they have made world famous and creating employment opportunities.”

With the help of the Government investment agency JamPro, the Uptown Yardie team were able to find an existing shoe manufacturers in Kingston Jamaica, who were making army boots. Rohan and Natasha have been working with them over the last year to develop the prototypes, ensuring that the end product will be something that both Uptown Yardie and Jamaicans will be proud of.

“The prototypes are amazing and we think will appeal to a unisex and global market. Part of this range will be a design exclusively sold in Jamaica,” Rohan said.

“As the business grows, our aim eventually is to train up local people in the skill of design, pattern making and shoe manufacturing. This will help the local economy and equip the factory with the right skills to support its expansion to meet the needs of the global market. Our parents used to say “one one coco full basket” meaning every penny counts, one step at a time,” an excited Rohan concluded.

You can find out more about the project and pledge your support by going to #thesoleofjamaica

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