The humble eight-holed work boot has won over everyone from postal workers to punks, teens to today’s celebrities and influencers. How did it stride to world dominance?
Tony Benn wore them. So did Agyness Deyn. Suggs loved them, also Kathleen Hanna and Joe Strummer. And Jordan Catalano. Hailey Baldwin, Rihanna and Bella Hadid still do. Once you start looking, Dr Martens are everywhere. Sixty years after launching the eight-hole 1460 boot – on, as the name suggests, the 1 April 1960 – it is an undisputed classic, one of those rare-as-hen’s-teeth designs that is as likely to be spotted in a museum as it is (until recently, of course) on the streets outside. It is up there with Levi’s 501s, the Fred Perry polo shirt, the Converse All Star and the Harrington jacket.
And, like these other items, the 1460 is enjoying a fashion moment beyond its classic status. Perhaps because the past decade has been so turbulent – even before we had a global pandemic to contend with – fashion has returned to the dependable. The Hadids, Baldwin and Kaia Gerber are all endorsing Dr Martens. In other words, as Vogue declared in October, they have become “model off-duty staple”. While the vegan range and patterned designs have been credited with a 70% rise in profit for the brand in 2019, the 1460 remains the bestseller and it is this history that is likely to have attracted rumours in March of a potential £300m sale to a US private equity firm.