We caught up with Dr. Martens Footwear Designer Joel Wilson

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Before the Dr. Martens x Atmos collection lands later this week, we caught up with one of Dr. Martens’ designers for a chat. We spoke about his background, design processes and the importance of collaborations for the brand.

So could you introduce yourself and tell us about your background?

"I'm Joel Wilson, Footwear Designer here at Dr. Martens looking after our Casual Category and our collaborations."

"I've been in the shoe industry for around 10 years, originally, I started out as a print designer but decided to move into footwear design - I like shoes a lot, as you can imagine…"

Can you tell us about the connection between the two brands?

"Both brands have a deep-rooted connection with youth culture. That authentic connection makes the project exciting to me – there’s a certain unique eclectic synergy between the two of us."

Talk us through the two pairs in this collaboration?

"Strategically we decided to work on the 1461, which celebrates 60 years in 2021 and introduce our Combs Tech boot into the mix. Ultimately, the design ideas were to collide the Dr. Martens DNA with the energy of Atmos taking iconic cues / detailing from both brands."

"This wasn’t about changing the entire look and feel of the products, it was about details / playing with materials / extra comfort / conceptual prints and interesting elements to enhance what are already dope shoes and bring both brands to life in the products."

What was your design process for the silhouettes?

"The process for each project always evolves. We speak and align with the partner on the general collaboration intent & concept, then we work the material and trims palette. After that, it's all about sketching – sketch sketch sketch until concepts are full-bodied and feel rounded. The nature of collaborative projects allows for pushing and pulling between the two brands to achieve a distinctly unique looking product with both ours and their intellectual property and branding signifiers still very present."

"It sounds easy! However, It’s harder than it looks…"

Where did the design influences for each pair come from?

"As I mentioned, we always start with pulling from heritage and DNA i.e. Atmos iconic colour blue etc... this specific project allowed for a more playful expression of colour and material along with branding vehicles and hardware."

"Pop colour details, slightly akin to the sneaker world blended with workwear vibes..."

How important are collaborations to Dr. Martens?

"Very – it allows us to strategically cement our iconic silhouettes within tiered distribution which in turn affects our mainline product (trickle-down), they are also a tool for us to attract new consumers to us and partner brands..."

"In my mind, a good collaboration is when both brands get something out of it without sacrificing what makes each brand unique, it has to be honest and compelling."

What's your earliest Dr. Martens memory?

"Honestly – school shoes – thinking I was a badass with my mohawk and 1461 black stitch"

Can you tell us about any other 2021 collaborations on the way?

"2021 is going to be a solid year for us and our partners as it's exciting, we have some interesting twists in the plan with some fantastic partners. Keep your ears to the ground!"

You can check out Joel’s Dr. Martens size? collection here.

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