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Keeping the best of the old, creating the ‘now’

DR_MARTENS_CAMDEN_FLAGSHIPWhen I grew up, what was interesting for me was that music was colour and life was grey. So music for me has always been more than entertainment.

Pete Townshend

They’ve been worn on the feet of everyone, from British skinheads to the Pope John Paul II, invented by a German Doctor, Klaus Mäertens, and initially brought to fame by Pete Townshend of The Who.

Yes that’s right, they’re the boots worn by people around the world for over 50 years known as Doc Martens.

Each year we tour the world, through our Ebeltoft global retail innovation insights, to find the world’s best innovative or adaptive retailers, including this week’s look at Doc Martens.

Why the Docs? Well the UK flagship shop in Camden highlights a nice case study of a long-established retail business merging tradition and heritage; classical footprints with digital transformation; increased customer centricity; and good old fashioned community building,

Dr. Martens is a globally recognised footwear, clothing and accessories brand, known for its trademark yellow-stitch boots and Airwaves soles. The iconic boots have been visibly associated over time with diverse groups in British culture, galvanising people who are proud of their authenticity and self-expression.

Dr. Martens’ newest flagship store is located in a 4,000-sq. ft., grade-II-listed building in Camden Market and features interactive elements conceived to personalise an entertaining shopping experience.

So why is it innovative?

Investing in entertainment

Entertaining customers is key for the Dr. Martens brand, which aims to create spaces where customers interact as a community. This concept incorporates a performance stage – The Boot Room – featuring regular acts, and a GIF booth, giving up potential sales space to benefit the overall experience.  

Herein lies the fascinating topic of offsetting classic retail stock space to create theatre, a place where the retail tribe can be the point where art, music, theatre and community intersect within a classical retail environment.

Programmed environment

The store also offers customised events and exclusive products. Guest artists personalise both newly purchased and beloved old boots with distinctive designs.

Consistent with its strong commitment to diversity, rebelliousness and uniqueness, rather than designing an overtly commercial environment, Dr. Martens has, over time, created spaces where dedicated customers gather for shared and personalised experiences, which generate sales, cultivate an unusually loyal consumer base and foster a strong emotional connection to the brand.

The new store in Camden is further energised by programmed, in-store activities that infuse the customer experience, including innovative entertainment (e.g., a GIF booth and music on stage) and personalised products.

Keeping the best of the old, merging the new and creating the “now”. Connectivity and integration are the two dominant themes while building on brand foundation.

Brian Walker is founder and CEO of Retail Doctor Group, retail and consumer experts  and the Australian elected member of the global retail expert’s alliance Ebeltoft Group.

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