Who doesn’t remember her first pair of Dr. Martens—the quintessentially British shoes adopted by generations of subcultures from Mods and Skinheads to Goths and the Nineties’ unkempt purveyors of Grunge?
But while the brand has recently been showing more contemporary shades, including printed, patterned and laser-cut styles, its original black boot, according to industry insiders, is headed for a revival. And the more battered, the better.
“The classic black style is definitely going to kick off again,” predicts London stylist Chloe Beeney, attributing the comeback to fashion’s cyclical nature. “That early Eighties feeling of post-romantic, bubblegum pop is pushing through again and people are dragging their Dr. Martens back out of their closets,” she says.
Buyers from Topshop’s shoe department say they have stocked up on grungy, beaten-up styles for January. “It doesn’t feel like it should be too student-y—that’s the new take on them,” says senior buyer Marie-Claire O’Sullivan, who suggests a biker/rock vibe, matching high boots with tiny skirts, as a look that works now. But she predicts more sophisticated looks influenced by high-fashion brands will soon eclipse that. “[Dr. Martens] are perfect for that Olive Oyl-skinny legs-big feet look or the longer-line skirts that are looking really fresh again, thanks to houses such as Dsquared, Ann Demeulemeester and Marc Jacobs,” she says.
French student Laura Gainche says the current punk rock wave has rendered the boot popular with her peers. “I don’t like to wear short skirts or shorts without them,” says the 22-year-old, who likes to mix vibrant tights into the formula. “French girls still tend to be a bit reserved, fashionwise, but the boots are really big in Belgium.”
“We can definitely sense a resurgence; it’s timely,” asserts Vicky Wiggins, marketing director for Dr. Martens.
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A Stella McCartney sketch of a custom dress made from protein-based silk in partnership with biotech lab Bolt Threads. The dress will be displayed at The Museum of Modern Art's upcoming design exhibition, "Items: Is Fashion Modern?"