Skinhead wasn’t a trend it was a way of life. Adopting the ‘Spirit of 69’, Dr. Martens launch their most exciting campaign to date
Skinhead is more than merely a trend, it’s a way of life – well according to photographer Gavin Watson, writer and broadcaster Robert Elms, Mike Skinner and thousands of other individuals who have been involved in the movement, across the past four decades, it is, and they are right.
Introducing us to the ‘Spirit of 69’ campaign, Robert Elms told the story of his youth steeped in anecdotes of the era – from being jealous of his brother Reggie and his short-hair, denim jeans, braces, white socks and DM’s get-up (which drove his mother mad), to the style tips he took from the West Indian Families inhabiting Tower Hamlets at the time. Describing himself as a ‘youth culture archaeologist’, Elms transported us back to one of the most strident and striking movements ever experienced in the UK. The Bethnal Green boys were bored of the Mile End mods, they wanted the ‘tough stuff’. They were puritans, the sartorial brutalists of their age. “To look like that is not an accident,” says Elms. “Nothing in skinhead is an accident, it’s all planned and prescribed.”
Similarly for Watson, skinhead was a way of life. “The feeling was like heroin, it was an addiction for someone insecure,” he explained. But in a landscape where youths were bombarded by the sounds of Madness and The Specials and where skinheads received no positive press, Dr. Martens were the continuum in this story of cultural discovery. So re-adopting the 1969 significance that Dr. Martens possessed – trekking across London on a Saturday to the best stall in Shepherd’s Bush market to buy a pair of pristine boots with a cult record under your arm – this collection exemplifies the spirit of the era.
Sat in Bethnal Green Working Men’s club, feasting on a breakfast of English tea, marmalade on toast and Tunnock’s teacakes, there was no better place to screen the unique campaign film created by Mike Skinner which explored the sub-culture to nostalgic effect. Having also collaborated with other influential brands associated with the movement – Trojan Records, Edwin, Alpha and Brutus – the capsule collection was the perfect modern representation of back-to-basics skinhead style. Including tartan Brutus shirts, Edwin jeans, Alpha Industries MA-1 flight jackets, a Trojan Record bag and of course the original Dr. Martens models – the skinhead footwear of choice – this is quite possibly their most exciting collection to date.
The Dr. Martens ‘Spirit of 69’ collection will be available this September.