Dr. Martens has always associated with society’s less salubrious sorts. History’s Docs-wearers – punks, skinheads, football hooligans – would always kick you in the teeth before shaking your hand. Especially unappealing considering the clout of what’s on their feet.
So it’s fitting that the brand has decorated its new season boots with one of history’s most telling depictions of society in freefall, ‘A Rake’s Progress’. Painted by 18th century satirist and social bellwether William Hogarth, it depicts what happens to otherwise hearty British men when they fall for the evils of wine, women and cards.
The original eight paintings eventually see our hero wind up in Bedlam asylum, but he’d doubtless have had more luck evading such a fate had he been sporting a pair of the good Dr’s orderly-kickers.
Rather than nip into the Sir John Soane’s Museum and painstakingly ink boots onto every canvas, the wise heads at Dr. Martens decided instead to transfer Hogarth’s artwork to its own styles, detailing the leather uppers with its most sordid moments.
The brand also commissioned internationally-renowned street artist Will Vibes – who has been at the forefront of the UK graffiti and street art scene for over a decade – to daub the boots onto Shoreditch’s brickwork, perhaps as a warning to any freshly bonused city boy looking to empty his bank account into east London’s underbelly. Get down your local Dr. Martens store instead, my boy. They’ll see you right.
Vibes’ Hogarth mural will be live until 2 November on the wall of The Great Eastern Bear. You can shop the Hogarth collection at Dr. Martens Spitalfields, 15 Lamb Street, Spitalfields, E1 6EA.