These Cult Boots Have Been Best Sellers for Over 60 Years
Having spent years training myself in the art of trend-hunting and It item–spotting, I could say confidently that I'm certain Dr. Martens boots are more popular than ever. In 2019, the heritage footwear brand reported double-digit growth (revenue stacks up now to a pretty cool £454.4 million—NBD), and that translates very visibly into just how often I spot girls wearing Docs on the pavements of my home city of London as well as on my Instagram feed, within celebrity echelons and in street style galleries.
Each month, more than 12,000 people in the UK search for "Dr. Martens boots," and that's before you start analysing all of the breakout search terms for specific styles shoppers are looking for, like Sinclair or Jadon. According to Google Trends, there's a noticeable spike during November and December. When the cold weather strikes, DMs really come into their own.
But even ahead of chillier moments, we've seen the brand's signature bovver boots, chunky soles, lace-ups and Chelsea styles take centre stage. As well as gathering momentum throughout spring, we've witnessed them become a go-to choice for festival season (which we hope will resume sooner than not), and they have even made their way onto the fashion week circuit, with combat and biker styles making a comeback in highbrow circles. It's perhaps no surprise, then, that the original stompy boots of the punk era would be a clever choice for those in the know.
The summer has also seen success with the British brand's flat-shoe offering—a thick-soled pair of Mary Janes (cutely named Polley) being a far more affordable way into the dolly-ish shoe trend Burberry first kicked off. Influencers have been wearing them with swishy dresses and socks, all to a rather "cute" effect.
However, the real turnaround, in my opinion, started a year or two ago. Comfort and practicality had been slowly but surely infiltrating the fashion industry for some time, with other footwear options like sneakers and ugly sandals becoming as mainstream and accepted as can be, but when it came to winter boot options, things seemed to halt.
That was until a few clever fashion enthusiasts remembered just where one could buy practical yet cool flat footwear: Dr. Martens. At the same time that A-listers and editors started revisiting classics created by the brand (like the signature 1460 lace-ups), the shoe purveyors started to introduce more radical, directional styles that appealed to a younger, entirely new audience. They were stocked on the likes of Free People and ASOS, and we would keep checking back to see every single stacked-platform style repeatedly sold out.
These more extreme DMs were also picked up by celebrities like Bella and Gigi Hadid. The impact of highly stylish celebrities wearing a relatively affordable pair of anything should never be underestimated. While much of their public outfits are made from prohibitively expensive pieces, a wearable, useful item with a friendly price point, such as Dr. Martens boots, can inspire many to purchase.
Add this A-list seal of approval to the growing street style fans and models off duty, an increase in wholesale stockists, a sharp rise in direct e-commerce sales and major product developments—such as the fact that Dr. Martens has been ahead of the curve in introducing versions of its classic styles in vegan leather—and it's hard to ignore just how booming this brand is right now, even if it's been around since the '60s.
Anyone who owns the vegan versions will tell you the same thing: They're so much softer than the OGs. Many Dr. Martens styles take some time to wear in (I'm still trying to stretch the leather on my Chelsea boots from last autumn and keep doing the hair-dryer trick), and girls often opt for second-hand pairs for that instantly comfy fit.
In addition to the faux-leather options, you'll find some fabric versions coming in this season, complete with Velcro-strapped ankles to really tap into the combative mood across the runways. In essence, you have DM options for days and, as proven by the many outfits we've witnessed them paired with, about 50,000 ways to wear them.
Below, we chart the key Dr. Martens boot styles, from classic to more adventurous, that you can shop now.
This post was originally published at an earlier time and has since been updated.
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