New Mexico’s scorched landscape doesn’t stay quiet for long. The birds are chirping, their melodies soon overshadowed by the rumble of a mobile meth lab as it whips around the dusty roads. The RV loses control, tilting into the desert and spitting out Walter White (Bryan Cranston), a chemistry teacher clad only in a gas-mask, underwear, high socks, and Clarks Wallabees shoes.
That scene from “Pilot,” the first episode of AMC’s now-classic series Breaking Bad, was the world’s introduction to White. His modes of attire throughout the show’s five-season run would become the stuff of fan obsession and Halloween dedication, the footwear being a constant. During White’s progression from meek husband to full-blown drug kingpin, Clarks’ crepe-soled Wallabee stayed on his feet.
As a celebration of the shoe, West Coast sneaker store Bait has partnered with Sony Pictures Television and Clarks to release two pairs inspired by storylines from Breaking Bad. These Heisenberg designs consist of a “Blue Sky” pair matching the hue of White’s eponymous product and a burgundy blood “Felina” pair referencing the location of his fatal end in the show’s finale. The shoes, which retail for $180 and come with Heisenberg hangtags, will be available at Bait stores and online here in limited numbers on Friday, March 24.
Bait is no stranger to collaborating with entertainment industry intellectual properties and shoe companies—in the past, it’s released G.I. Joe New Balances and Italian-made Skeletor sneakers, to name a few. According to the store’s marketing manager, Ron Khy, licensed releases like this present a unique challenge.
“This wasn’t the easiest project like other collabs per se because it’s a three-way partnership,” Khy tells Collider. “You have to get the entertainment brand and the shoe brand together to produce something, which requires a lot of teamwork and constant communication. Both Sony and Clarks have been great partners.”
Despite what one might assume from the shoes’ constant presence in Breaking Bad, Sony and Clarks didn’t work together during the show’s production. Lead costume designer Kathleen Detoro says she never heard from anyone at Clarks as she procured upwards of 60 pairs of Wallabees per season.
She selected the shoes for White, figuring they landed perfectly in between nondescript and identifiable, nerdy but legitimately cool. Show creator Vince Gilligan’s original treatment offered no guidance on footwear, so it was up to Detoro to figure out.
“It’s about getting into [White’s] mindset. He was a teacher; I was thinking about someone who was kind of stuck in the past a little bit—not really super current or modern,” she tells Collider. “I showed Vince just two pairs of shoes, the Clarks Wallabees and the Clarks Desert Boots.”
Gilligan immediately selected the Wallabee, a choice that would give the silhouette pop culture relevance not seen since its 1990s heyday as the go-to footwear for Wu-Tang Clan rappers like Ghostface Killah and Raekwon. Episode after episode, the Wallabee remained on-feet, shifting colors at times to match the mood of the show and to trace White’s increasingly dark deeds as he embraced the Heisenberg persona.
Khy at Bait is betting on the special edition Clarks shown here making their way to White’s feet as well. He’s sending out pairs to Gilligan, and has enlisted the help of project partners at Sony Entertainment to make sure Heisenberg himself gets them. “Bryan Cranston may not know about, it but we definitely have the shoes being delivered to his desk.”