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How I got here - Oliver Hill

With Dr Martens’ apparel and accessories being so new, the biggest challenge is educating the public that we are introducing new products along with our signature boots and shoes.
Written on 4/7/14

What does your typical week involve?

A load of meetings in the office, fabric sourcing, emailing and  sketching. It’s fairly busy. I’m reviewing the final samples from our autumn collaboration projects. My position has me solely designing and developing the direction of accessories. We’ve had great feedback on our leather backpack, so I am working on how to develop accessories further. 

What is the most challenging part of your job?

With Dr Martens’ apparel and accessories being so new, the biggest challenge is educating the public that we are introducing new products along with our signature boots and shoes. We’ve had great success with our satchel range, but this is now developing into newer styles that still hold the Dr Martens handwriting. The clothing is also  going from strength to strength and, with every season, we are beginning to develop our own look.

What task are you most looking forward to today?

 Reviewing the final samples from an autumn  collaboration project with some exciting brands. Then I have a fitting with my creative director for the spring women’s collection and, after that, I’ll start work on the autumn accessories, concentrating on sketching and rendering the outcomes in Adobe Illustrator. 

How did you get to where you are today?

I’ve always tried to be myself. I’m a guy from Birmingham who loves clothing, music and everything in between. I’ve been fortunate enough to have networked in the right places and met some great people. I’ve always managed to create an impression, not always good, but rarely bad. 

What has been your career highlight?

I have two highlights. The first came in my second year of university when I was able to live and work in New York for four months under streetwear label Artful Dodger’s founder and chief executive Scott Langton. It taught me a lot, not only about the industry, but also about life. New York is a tough city and the Bronx was a challenging place to live in, but the things I learnt over there were invaluable. The second highlight was my work experience with designer Andrew Ibi during his time at menswear brand Burlington. It gave me an insight into how a premium label works, and also a new way of thinking about design. 

If you could change one thing about your career path, what would it be?

I would have liked to stay in New York for a little bit longer. It’s an amazing city, with a dangerous level of energy. If I had stayed longer, I would have continued to learn more about the industry, which would have helped to fast-track my career. 

Who is your mentor? 

Andrew Ibi has always been a massive in influence throughout my career; from giving me the chance to travel while studying, to advising me on my career choices to date. He has a real depth of knowledge, not only about fashion, but about  music, art, subculture and Nigerian football. This, teamed with his subversive view on the industry and his level of taste, is why he has become my mentor and good friend.

What’s the best piece of advice he’s given you?

He always told me to be myself and stay true to where I’m from and the people around me.

He How do you see your career progressing?

I’d like to such an exciting time for the brand. Being the only designer in a totally new area for such a renowned and respected heritage brand is an amazing opportunity and one I would really like to progress with and make a success of.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow in your footsteps?

It’s important to remain true to yourself . This is important no matter what you do. Don’t do things that don’t have any meaning and are soulless because, in the end, it won’t have any longevity. 

If you could work in another area of fashion, what would it be?

I would love to be involved in marketing and PR. I’m fascinated by the relationship between brands and customers, and the many different ways in which brands are able to engage with them.

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