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Style Distinction, Heritage Distortion

Dr. Martens’ 60th anniversary collection proves that there are plenty of miles ahead for the world’s most iconic boot


There’s not a brand out there aging better than Dr. Martens. Sixty years in the game and the brand keeps coming out swinging like some every-ready, ever-rebellious kid. The Heritage Distortion collection is a glowing testament to that unstoppable zeal. 

The collection comprises the Atlas and Double Stitch packs, both of which stay true to the iconic features and flourishes you’ve come to know and love from the brand, while also throwing a little ante-upping energy into the mix. The Atlas boasts a waxed aniline, pull-up leather, while the Double Stitch features two lines of yellow stitching along the welt.

To celebrate the landmark editions, men’s stylist par excellence Tom Stubbs has come away with a belter line up of looks that, while full of nostalgia and rich in historical reference, never falls back on common clichés. There are some forward-thinking flourishes in the mix – from leather trench coats to rude boy-inflected, unstructured tailoring – which offer a cheeky peek at trends to come. Photographer Jono White lends his signature flair to the looks, too, capturing the edge of the collection with grit, grain, style and ease. 

True to its name, Heritage Distortion offers a fond look back, no doubt. But the most exciting thing about the collection is its clear forward momentum. Heritage Distortion points to some serious, full-speed-ahead ferocity from the brand. It’s a loud-and-clear celebration of the fact that Dr. Martens isn’t just taking the march of time in its double-stitched, pull-up leather stride: it’s positively leading the pack. Here’s to the next 60 years.


The Debrief

Shooting the breeze behind the scenes with Jono and Tom

What does Dr. Martens mean to you personally? Do you associate the brand with any particular scenes growing up?
Jono White, Photographer – Honestly, it’s changed so much over the years. I remember the first time I heard about them from my mum and I thought she was talking about our GP or something. I was probably about 5 and it was a big deal to her that she had some; they seemed aspirational and she wore them to death. They weren’t trendy ones or anything, just a standard tan pair that lasted for years. I wasn’t really aware of them again until I was about 16 and going to local DIY punk shows. That’s when you find yourself, right? I got a pair of 1461’s off eBay and felt seen immediately. I went to school in a tiny town in Kent so it wasn’t hard to stick out and show other like-minded people you knew what was hip. I guess that’s the scene I associate it with most, guitar music in all shapes. 

Your work often has a heavy focus on subculture; is it important for you to represent movements beyond the mainstream?
Not at all, it’s usually just more interesting than what’s going on in the “mainstream”. My dream job would be something like shooting Adele backstage and it doesn’t really get more mainstream than that. It’s vital to highlight certain stories and shed light on important movements though, but I think that should be left to those involved or affected by the movement and I can support that in different ways. It’s much more compelling to see images from the inside out and I don’t ever want to try and tell someone else’s story when it would be better served coming from them. There’s a lot of people who shoot for Insta clout and then don’t care once they get bored and that can be harmful to the subcultures.

You’ve recently put out a new zine. As everything seems to be going digital nowadays, is print still an important aspect of your work?
It’s the most enjoyable way of showing and consuming images for me, for so many reasons. I can share photos on socials until I’m blue in the face, but no one is going to remember those in a couple of years, if they even take the time taken to scroll onto the next one. With a zine or a print, I can present images exactly how I want and they can live on someone’s shelf or wall forever. You can revisit them whenever. And when you’re looking at a photo book, it demands your attention. There really is no comparison to viewing the same image as a 2”x 2” square on a screen. 

What does Dr. Martens mean to you personally? Any memories of the boots from over the years?
Tom Stubbs, Stylist – Authentic brand (mis)appropriated by genuine youth subcultures. They are dynamic, distinct, bold, and intrinsically have their own nuanced codes of how to wear them.  

I wore 8-hole oxblood Martens back in 1980-82 first worn in skinhead style. We wanted to emulate the rude boy’s street savvy of that era. Even with their subverted, scruffy takes on school uniforms. Later, I wore greasy Ghillie Dr. Martens shoes, without the classic yellow top stitch this time, which was a more subtle, toned-down style. Worn with baggy, faded and ripped Levi’s 501s, a suede bomber or black leather biker jacket. This Hard Times with a bit of Buffalo thrown in, though I didn’t know that at the time.

Dr. Martens have been around for six decades now, how do you explain the brand’s continued popularity?
It’s because they’ve got one of those unwritten design codes that existed before PR and campaigns. They’re authentic. They’re a part of a subcultural history and a series of iconic, unique looks that – over the years – have yet to be beaten.

Mixing up Dr. Martens with a few Savile Row staples was a stroke of genius. Do you think it’s important to loosen up The Row’s severity every now and again?
Savile Row staples, yes. But more like rude boy references through a Savile Row prism. It’s pretty much my own approach to my work personal wardrobes: breaking row codes, using the power, mechanics and history of the stuff itself and combining that with personal attitude. It’s all about taking the stuffy edge off of things. Savile Row needs this or everyone will look like they’re on the board of school guv’nors!