Dr. Martens on the move, in Paris and worldwide
Paris will always be a magnet for booming brands; and one that popped up with a snappy showroom recently was Dr. Martens, the iconic UK marque, where we caught up with its creative director Darren McKoy.
A seven-year veteran of the brand, McKoy took over the reins in December of last year, though his position was only officially announced in March.
Prior to his new appointment, McKoy had been for working in the brand’s product team. He has been based in Camden, on Jamestown Road, though frequently visits the marque’s original factories in Wollaston, near Northampton, the nerve center of the UK footwear industry. McKoy hails from Sheffield, the metal capital of England, and there is a quiet steeliness about him.
In Paris, Dr. Martens unveiled their latest collection, and a multiplicity of collaborations, at the address on Rue Richelieu. It’s a space scores of non-French fashion houses and brands have used before, though none with quite as much kick as Dr. Martens. At least once every season the brand shows in Paris.
In some respects, Dr. Martens are the collab' kings of fashion industry. This author can recall going to his first Yohji Yamamoto show in Paris over three decades ago, when the great Japanese master unveiled a fab pair of Dr. Martens with a back made in entirely in stretch fabric, not classic leather.
Though invented by a German, Dr. Martens is one of Britain’s most iconic brands. Based on its remarkably comfortable Airwair soles, they are also incredibly comfortable. No wonder the marque has sold over 100 million pairs in its seven decades of history.
So, we sat down with McKoy to discuss his vision for Dr. Martens; touching sub-cultural consumers and the brand's Paris store.
FashionNetwork: So, now that you are in charge, what do you want do with the brand?
Darren McKoy: It is really about continuing to build on the rich heritage. I mean, 60 years of doing what we’ve been doing. It’s really about building on that and looking at how we can take the DNA, the thinking, the heritage, and the history of the authenticity and kind of move it to the future. So that’s really what I want to focus on.
FNW: I see you’ve done quite a lot of collaborations. Why has that been a key strategy for Dr. Martens?
DMK: Yeah, I mean, they’ve been super important in terms of elevating brand visibility. But the biggest thing they’ve been for us is really about helping us continue to put our products in front of new consumers, and different consumers. Everyone from YouTube, ACW to Supreme. They pretty much embody the same principles DNA of Dr. Martens.
FNW: Which are?
DMK: It’s really about touching subcultural consumers. I think what we’re trying to do with our collaborations going forward is what we did in the past. But also look at some of the newer critical communities coming through as well. And considering, let’s say, new kinds of creative shop strategies to push us into a new space.
FNW: How important is ready-to-wear in your business decisions?
DMK: Yes, footwork is over 90 percent. But we still have an accessory part of our business that does really well in terms of backpacks, small leather goods and socks. We’ve had clothing in the past, but at this moment in time, it’s not really a focus for us.
FNW: There are events in the space every season, whether during menswear or women’s wear. How did you set out to exploit it?
DMK: You know, it’s really powerful. It’s really impactful. I mean, even from outside walking into it, it’s kind of eye catching. That’s what we wanted in this space.
FNW: Have you ever considered doing a show in Paris?
DMK: Not really. We’ve been part of many shows. Which we like, like being part of a catwalk, like with Off-White.
FNW: What’s the goal of your store in Paris?
DMK: Yeah, we are in the Marais because we wanted something that provided the journey through the history of the product, and to link to the next generation of designers.
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