How anti-fashion Dr Martens are more fashionable than ever

Resurgence in popularity due to influence of high-profile celebrities

The Who 1460 boot, €189, Dr. Martens

The Who 1460 boot, €189, Dr. Martens

 

Few iconic designs transcend decades and ages quite like the Dr Marten boot. Released in the 1940s as durable workwear style, it rose to prominence in the 1960s when the industrial-looking boot with anti-fashion cred was adopted by skinheads.

Since then, the boot has become more fashionable than ever, and a sub-cultural symbol for rebellion for many other tribes who embraced the chunky-soled footwear, including mods, goths and Britpoppers. Its iconic status was cemented by wearers that included Pete Townshend of The Who, Elton John, The Specials, and Suggs from Madness.

Defying fads, the perennial appeal of DMs mean they are now the stomp of cool once more thanks to the new-gen of celebrities donning the chunky-soled style. It is a regular sight during fashion week, whether it’s sent down the catwalk at shows like Prabal Gurung or Karen Walker or spotted on the feet of multiple street-style favourites. It’s current resurgence in popularity can be attributed to the fact that some of fashion’s most influential have been leading the charge for the DM renaissance. Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner, Kaia Gerber and Hailey Bieber, who collectively have a following of more than 208 million on Instagram, have all helped bring the boot to the mainstream.

A model showcases designs by Karen Walker and Dr. Martens during the Fashion In The Heart Of The City show at New Zealand Fashion Weekend. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty
A model showcases designs by Karen Walker and Dr Martens during the Fashion In The Heart Of The City show at New Zealand Fashion Weekend. Photograph: Lisa Maree Williams/Getty

A hit both on the street-style scene and social media, global search platform Lyst revealed Dr. Marten boots were mentioned close to two million times on Instagram and searches for the English boot brand rose by 110 per cent in the final quarter of 2018 compared with that of the previous year.

The brand has moved to win over millennials and Generation Z with clever collaborations and rifts on their classic styles, including summer sandals that maintained the signature rubber sole and yellow stitching, but updated with chunky straps and an open toe that quickly made them a fixture on the festival season.

Last December, the British brand released a collection which is still available now with the designer Marc Jacobs, who was responsible for popularising grunge in the 1990s, with his 1992 collection of flannel shirts, printed dresses, and of course, Dr. Martens, proving the boots ever-enduring status in the world of fashion.

Returning to its roots in music, Dr Martens has also recently released a collection of footwear and clothing in honour of The Who for autumn. Lead singer of The Who Peter Townshend catapulted the brand into the world of stage dives and mosh pits when it wore a battered pair of DMs on stage in 1967. Coming full circle, the collaboration sees the band’s iconic tricolour target logo decorate various footwear styles and complementary apparel pieces.

But, it’s the British brand’s move towards cruelty-free styles that has led to a successful commercial revival. The company’s profits have increased by 70 per cent from January to March 2019 thanks to the popularity of its new vegan-constructed boot, which now accounts for 4 per cent of the label’s sales.

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