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ENGINEERED IN WOLLASTON – AN INTERVIEW WITH DM'S FOOTWEAR LASTING OPERATIVE GEMMA-LOUISE ATKIN


OUR NEW COLLABORATION WITH ENGINEERED GARMENTS CELEBRATES THE POWER OF LOCALISED CRAFT & THE LIMITED FEW WHO CARRY ITS TRADITIONS FORWARD




ENGINEERED IN WOLLASTON – AN INTERVIEW WITH DM'S FOOTWEAR LASTING OPERATIVE GEMMA-LOUISE ATKINS


OUR NEW COLLABORATION WITH ENGINEERED GARMENTS CELEBRATES THE POWER OF LOCALISED CRAFT & THE LIMITED FEW WHO CARRY ITS TRADITIONS FORWARD


THE 1460 BOOT


Passion for local crafting traditions is something that bonds DM's and Engineered Garments together. For Daiki Suzuki, the founder of Nepenthes' New York outpost, time-honoured techniques yield uniquely well-crafted pieces – a brand mantra that cuts against an increasingly mass-produced clothing industry. A self-styled 'vintage clothing archivist', Suzuki has spent decades travelling the world sourcing pieces for his legendary clothing archive, even drawing up a map of his favourite regional specialities. And after he discovered a pair of beaten-up DM's shoes in a second-hand store many years ago, there's now a little point plotted over Northamptonshire.




DM's footwear is notorious for its unique production process. A process, and production line, which have remained largely unchanged for over six decades. And even as new materials, innovations, techniques and collaborations flow in and out of Wollaston, it's the same fundamental traditions – the precise number of yellow stitches and grooves on the outsole – that the boots and brand are built on.


Tens of thousands of new pairs leave the production line every year, each one cut, shaped, welted and stitched by a small team of factory operatives. Without the passion and skill of future generations, the traditional ways would die out. For Gemma-Louise Atkins, DM's Footwear Lasting Operative, belonging to this select group is a point of pride:



"A lot of hard work goes into what I do: edge trimming. It's the final job on the lasting track, the messiest, the loudest and one that only two women, myself included, are trained to do. To me, that means an awful lot, to be able to strive in a factory that has been and still is dominated by men, prove myself physically and show them I can do what they can do. I've worked very hard to show I'm capable, and I make sure I do an amazing job each time I turn on my machine."​



"A lot of hard work goes into what I do: edge trimming. It's the final job on the lasting track, the messiest, the loudest and one that only two women, myself included, are trained to do. To me, that means an awful lot, to be able to strive in a factory that has been and still is dominated by men, prove myself physically and show them I can do what they can do. I've worked very hard to show I'm capable, and I make sure I do an amazing job each time I turn on my machine."

[Left to right] Aoi, Chris, Gemma and Isaac wear the 1461 Engineered Garments


Gemma joined DM's three years ago as a Factory Apprentice, and her hard work and resilient attitude have carved out her place as a mainstay on the production line: "I love knowing that I've challenged myself in so many ways to be where I am now." The factory has shaped her skills as much as she has shaped its shoes, and her handiwork is now so precise that she can even pick out specific pairs she's made when she sees them in store:​


WOMAN HOLDING UP ROLLED UP LEATHER

"One of my favourite things to do is to go and check out the Made In England section in stores and work out what's mine. After a while, you pick up on various little differences between each person's work that the average person wouldn't look twice at. For me, it's where I start and stop on the shoe and how close I trim. I like to think we leave a little something of ourselves on what we create."

WOMAN HOLDING UP ROLLED UP LEATHER

In an increasingly mechanised industry, Gemma believes that preserving traditional techniques is more important than ever: "So much has been learnt about craft over the years, to the point where we have created machines to do the work for us. But handcraftsmanship shows just how capable we are when we use skills that have been passed down through time."


People like Gemma are what drew Suzuki back to Northamptonshire for our fifth Engineered Garments collaboration. He said of the new collection: "It's the people who work at and wear Dr. Martens who really made me want to rework the classic shoe.". Partially inspired by the first pair of DM's Suzuki discovered all those years ago, the two shoes are a tribute to localised crafting traditions and the people, like Gemma, who carry them forward.

DM'S X ENGINEERED GARMENTS

DM'S X ENGINEERED GARMENTS

DR MARTENS ENGINEERED GARMENTS SHOES WITH PACKAGING
DR MARTENS ENGINEERED GARMENTS SHOES IN BLACK WITH PACKAGING

1461 Engineered Garments Smooth Leather Shoes


DR MARTENS ENGINEERED GARMENTS SHOES IN CREAM WITH PACKAGING
DR MARTENS ENGINEERED GARMENTS SHOES IN CREAM WITH PACKAGING

1461 Engineered Garments Suede Shoes