Nothing says underground like a good old pair of Dr. Martens. And, while the 1960s £2 work-wear-boot-turned-icon often opts for low-key reinvention in a bid to remain youth culture’s go-to shoe, its core remains the same: “Broken in once, born for a lifestyle.”
It’s a sustainable approach through which the German-founded British footwear label straightforwardly emphasizes how much history there can be in someone’s pairs. As much about the personal as the material.
Despite a culture of “great respect for leather,” Dr. Martens started producing a vegan range in 2011. Of course, at the time, it was very rare to hear about animal-friendly alternatives, which didn’t make anyone question the level of sustainability there actually was in every shoe. Fast-forwarding to 2023, we certainly know a little bit more about the downside of synthetic materials, such as polyurethane, PVC or polyvinyl chloride.
Understandably, vegan “docs” were born to provide a cruelty-free option for plant-based lifestyles. However, we now have the resources to understand this might not be the most “environmentally friendly” alternative. And it seems like Dr. Martens is aware of it too, with the label having just unveiled a new Deadstock collection that utilizes surplus leathers as part of its waste reduction commitment.
The range combines leathers from different seasonal stock and tanneries, which are later transformed into high-quality boots and shoes by the leather specialists at Dr. Martens’ Northamptonshire factory. However, it is important to note that this collection wouldn’t exist without the leathers the imprint uses across its entire Made In England range, which again leads to all sorts of eco-conscious paradoxes.
The first installment of Dr. Martens’ Deadstock collection comprises the signature 1460 Pascal boot and the 1461 Oxford shoe. The leathers used for the 8-eye, mocha-toned work silhouette include Desert Oasis suede, Classic Oiled Shoulder and Wax Commander from UK-based C. F. Stead, and Dublin leather from Horween in Chicago. Meanwhile, the indigo black oxford shoe is reimagined with contrast base Quillon leather, soft Desert Oasis suede and classic Split Suede from Leeds-based tannery C.F. Stead.
By mismatching materials from different sources, both silhouettes deliver a cut-and-sew feel, enhanced with hand-punched, mismatched eyelets, pattern-break stitching and rough-finished edges. Adding the classic Dr. Martens magic touch, the 1460 8-eye boot and 1461 3-eye shoe include exaggerated yellow welt stitching and a scripted AirWair heel loop.
Elsewhere, to highlight the beauty of the discarded even more, Dr. Martens created a campaign tapping designer and furniture maker Lewis Kemmennoe and weaver Rosa Martin Rodrigue to create studio decorations using wood and leather scraps. The campaign was also shot on expired 35mm film, further reducing waste.
Priced at $290 and $260 USD respectively, the Dr. Martens’ 1460 Pascal Made in England Deadstock Leather Lace Up boots and 1461 Made in England Deadstock Leather Oxford shoes are now available to purchase from the label’s website.