ORDER BY PHONE 800-810-6673 ORDER BY PHONE 600-810-6673 FIND A STORE FREE STANDARD GROUND SHIPPING ON ORDERS OVER $50 across the US*     Sign In / Register


Malcolm Garrett is one of the most widely respected designers to emerge from the punk era. Having designed the artwork for Buzzcocks’ first album, ‘Another Music In A Different Kitchen’, Garrett went on to work with acts as diverse as Magazine, Duran Duran and Peter Gabriel. He is highly regarded for his early adoption of digital design in his field. He is currently Creative Director of IMAGES&Co based in London.  

Malcolm Garrett's customised Dr. Martens boots in.
Malcolm Garrett’s customised Dr. Martens boots in the Buzzcocks artwork he has created.
When did you first come across Dr. Martens?
I grew up in the late sixties and my first experience of Dr. Martens was when they started appearing on the feet of some of my schoolmates, most of whom were skinheads. They were always the cherry reds ones, highly polished and worn with pride. 
Did you buy a pair then for yourself?
To be honest I was fairly ambivalent about them at that stage, so, no, I didn’t buy any. It was actually almost ten years later in 1978 when I was really into punk that I got a pair. By then I was really into the black uppers they made. If you were a punk, you weren’t into cherry red or brown, it was all about black. 
Did you leave them black or customise them?
I can’t remember what possessed me, but I hand-painted them with the artwork I’d done for Buzzcocks’ album ‘Another Music In A Different Kitchen’. As a punk we all wanted to customise everything, you didn’t want to wear anything that was the same as anyone else. So I found some leather dye in red and a metallic silver. Looking back, it was really difficult to mask off the boots in any way, so essentially I painted these Docs completely freehand and somehow I managed to make not too bad a job of it. The artwork for that album is quite angular so it was quite a challenge. I added some red laces and I thought they looked amazing! 
Why do you think Dr. Martens were popular with punks who liked to be individual, when the boots themselves were uniform?
I’m not sure we thought about it that much. For sure the utility side of them appealed. In fact, utility clothing for punks was pretty much de rigeur. In many ways DM’s were a blank canvas, so yes you could buy the same pair as your mate, but then you would customise them and make them unique.
Unless you lived in London and could afford the likes of the famous punk stores that we all know about, then making your own clothes was the way to go. I wore my painted DM’s with a pair of quilted grey trousers that my mate from fashion college had made for me. They used a fabric that was actually intended for furnishings, this thickly quilted grey material that actually looked like the inside sleeve of the first Roxy Music album! So that was my trousers, complete one-offs, like my Docs. 
Were you thinking of how to design them, like the album sleeve, was that a calculated process that punk inspired?
No, not at all. It just seemed to work. When you are twenty years old, you don’t think about the broader perspectives and analyse all these idea that years later social commentators are telling us about. You just go, ‘These boots would look good if I painted them …’ Dr. Martens were easy to get hold of and super-comfortable, plus they took paint very well. 
Malcolm Garrett's customised Dr. marten boots in camouflage.
The Malcolm Garrett Collection, at Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections..
How long did those DM’s last?
Well, later on I moved into having a taste for camouflage clothing so my boots got repainted in black and grey battleship camo. Eventually I donated them, along with all my punk clothing, to the Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collections library.
After punk, a mate of mine who then became a flatmate really liked them. He was called Perry Haines and aside from being heavily involved in i-D magazine, he became the manager of a band called King, who were famous for wearing brightly painted Dr. Martens boots. So I’d like to think I had a little influence on that. 
What is it about punk that made people so creative?
The two elements came together. At that age you are totally into music and street fashion. As a punk you celebrate being an outsider, so the more outrageous and brash the designs and posters and artwork and clothing the better. The idea of painting your clothes, including your boots, seemed like an obvious thing to do. It was all very instinctive, not pre-planned. Like I said, punk was all about celebrating the fact that you are an outsider. 
To find out more about Malcolm Garrett head to his website, and to find out more about The Malcolm Garrett Collection head to the Manchester Metropolitan University Special Collection website and Twitter