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How do you style Dr. Martens boots? We ask 3 Australian creatives

PHOTOGRAPHY – JESS BROHIER
PHOTOGRAPHY ASSISTANTS – REBECCA-MARIAN IRENE AND COPPER TAYLOR-BOGAARS
HAIR AND MAKEUP – ROSE LETHO
TALENT – YUAN RONG CHEN, KACY HEYWOOD, MON BARTON @ STONE STREET AGENCY
SHOT AT ALT HOUSE STUDIO

An essential building block in your wardrobe.

What do you get when you put one style of boots and three Australian creatives in a studio? While that sounds like the first half of a bad joke, it’s what happened after we invited designer and lecturer Yuan Rong Chen, writer and editor Mon Barton, and designer Kacy Heywood to show us how they would each style the Dr. Martens 2976 boot.

Each of them understands the innate versatility a Doc possesses and values the brand for its ability to transcend trends. Seeing them pair the boot with masculine and feminine silhouettes and varying textures and materials reminded us how much of a staple a great boot is – it’s an essential building block in your wardrobe all year ’round and an investment that more than pays off when you break down the cost per wear.


For more wardrobe inspiration, come and visit our Fashion section. 


Click through the gallery above to see how they styled said boots, and then scroll down to find out more about what ethical fashion and the act of getting dressed means to them.

Rong Jake Chen, designer and lecturer

Tell us a bit about yourself. 

I like to say I’m a logical creative, I studied business at the desire of my first-generation immigrant family but have pursued self-taught fashion as part of my career. I was formerly co-creative at menswear contemporary label Amxander and currently, I am developing creative projects through H-ours, consulting at my agency Forward Collective, running my womenswear line with my friend and partner Jonathan Liang, and working on a new unisex capsule line called Graedance. A fair bit I must admit, but it keeps life interesting. Oh, and I’ve also been an academic for several years now, sharing some knowledge at the University of Melbourne, University of Canberra and now RMIT.

What does clothing mean to you? Tell us a little about your style.

I use clothing as escapism and a way to change up my thoughts and mood for the day, so I like to think my style varies. Some days I want to be an urban cowboy, a cool dad, or a hikikomori (a recluse). Sometimes I want to pretend I’m about to head to the Greek Islands, it’s all a matter of mood. Of course, I try to build a wardrobe that is adaptable for all occasions. Simple but impactful silhouettes and detailing gets me all the time, and that’s something I like to imbue in my design work as well. And jewellery is something I have a lowkey but high-key infatuation with.

How do you ensure your wardrobe is ethical?

In my work at Jonathan Liang and Amxander, my team and I have always placed ethical production and practices at the heart of what we do. As such, I had thought all emerging or independent labels were ethical in practice and that fast fashion was the antithesis of that. However, recently I’ve had a mind shift about the longevity and wear of products. So long as there is an ongoing transfer (for example, Dr. Martens still retain value over time) and long-term use of the products, consumption can be ethical.

How do you inspire yourself to create different looks around a single item, like a pair of boots?

Everything in this world has a degree of versatility, and it’s always a fun challenge to see how much you can develop certain styles. I’ve found the more versatile a piece is, the more it’s ingrained in my day-to-day wear. Boots, like Dr. Martens, are extremely versatile and there’s also a physicality that they give you – they make you stand taller, straighter and this translates to, at least for me, confidence in my step.

@rongjake

Mon Barton, writer, marketer and model 

Tell us a bit about what do you do. 

So I guess my full-time job would be what I ‘do’ but I like to think who I am is very separate! [Laughs] I’m in marketing as well as lots of other fun creative jobs like design, styling and photography. I’m a very passionate, sensitive person who adores food and enjoys giving any type of creativity a red hot crack.

What are you wearing on set today?

The garments in all three outfits are literally my highest rotational pieces. They’re the pieces I’ve saved up for and purchased knowing they’ll be well-worn and well-loved, and they’re also my go-to pieces whenever I’m in a hurry or don’t know what to wear. My style is very mood-dependent though, as I undulate between my feminine and masculine energies day-to-day.

What’s important to you when selecting new pieces for your wardrobe? 

Whenever I’m looking for something, it’s because I’ve visualised an outfit in my head and then I go looking for the pieces. I think there is genuine value in saving your pennies for something of quality and I’ve really come to respect this way of shopping. I find a lot of value in purchasing something with intent, whether that be a small, local designer who has handmade that piece or a staple item that you know will be incredible quality and you’ll be wearing it for years to come. I think that just builds an appreciation for what you’re saving towards and as a result, you wear it with excitement and pride.

How do you inspire yourself to create different looks around a single item, like a pair of boots?

Boots are just such a timeless staple shoe. You can wear them with practically anything and I think the biggest thing that inspires me within styling and fashion these days is the fact that comfort is paramount. I remember when high heels and tight dresses and super skinny jeans were the hottest items to be sporting but now for me, it’s all about boots, sneakers and baggy clothes.

@mons.monday

Kacy Heywood, designer

Tell us a bit about what you do.

I’m a fashion, footwear and accessories designer. I love using the platform of fashion design to explore other creatives avenues like styling, art direction, film and photography, and also calling it a community.

What’s important to you when selecting new pieces for your wardrobe? 

I guess it’s if I know the designer and their work or their ethos, and about where they source stuff. If I know more about where the clothes come from, I feel like I’m more inclined to buy from them – rather than purchasing for aesthetics, I’m attached to the actual brand. I pretty much only buy from Australian or New Zealand designers. I love Maroske Peech, I think their whole art direction is amazing, it’s so unique and fun. They have great morals as well, they’re always supporting charities.

I also look for longevity. Buying a well-made, long-wearing leather shoe such as Dr. Martens reduces waste – I will wear a pair of Docs for years. If I was to have the Doc boots on a nice sunny day and I was feeling in a quite feminine mood, I’ll put a floral dress on. But if I was in a more of a boisterous mood, I’ll wear it with some slack jeans. You can have it as a dress shoe or a casual shoe. It’s not really gender-based or anything like that. I love the transferable nature of Dr. Martens.

@kahedesign

Shop the Dr. Martens 2976 range here.

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