At this level, Dr. Martens—Docs, DMs, no matter you need to name them—have been round for 74 years. And, for nearly all of that point, in a technique or one other, they’ve been inextricably entwined with various music—and, in fact, the subcultures which that music has spawned.
Transcending their origins as factory-safe work boots, over the course of a near-century, Dr. Martens have been synonymous with skinheads, a must have punk staple, a continuing companion to goths and metalheads trudging somberly by means of London’s Camden Lock Market, cushioned the soles of a moody technology of grunge followers and adorned the ft of black-clad witch home children and art-school college students, which, realistically, are roughly the identical factor.
Docs have made their manner the world over—from the economic estates of Northamptonshire, England to the crowded and colourful streets of Harajuku in Tokyo—and staked out their declare on each excessive trend and streetwear.
Reasonably than rallying in opposition to their reappropriation, although, Dr. Martens have spent virtually 75 years leaning into the varied cultures which have chosen to embrace them, engaged on collaborations with artists, designers, bands, manufacturers and even cartoon characters. There’s been Dr. Martens x Keith Haring, Dr. Martens x Comme Des Garçons, Dr. Martens x Sex Pistols, Dr. Martens x NEIGHBORHOOD and Dr. Martens x Hello Kitty And Friends, to call however one from every of these classes.
It’s, protected to say, an extended, various and illustrious record.
And it’s with all this in thoughts that, having simply launched their newest collaboration—a just about immediately sold-out joint with excessive trend’s main misanthrope and silken-haired specter Rick Owens—that we’ve determined to spherical up what we predict are the most effective Docs collaborations on the market.
Dr. Martens x Black Sabbath (2020)
If we’re speaking heavy music credentials—which, let’s face it, we regularly are—then they don’t come far more licensed than Black Sabbath.
Birmingham’s premier heavy-metal band, pioneers of the style, Sabbath lent the cover art of their 1970 self-titled debut album to the outside of Dr. Martens’ iconic 1460 Boot, which celebrated its 60th year in 2020.
As an added bonus, the low-top 1461 silhouette additionally had its probability to bop with the satan from Aston as a part of the identical collaboration. With Paranoid impressively launched the identical 12 months because the band’s debut, celebrating its personal half-century anniversary, graphics from the album’s cowl have been digitally printed to the heel and the band’s identify emblazoned on the toe cap.
Actual, as they are saying, acknowledges actual.
Dr. Martens x Rick Owens (2021)
The king of high-fashion goth, American designer Rick Owens could also be a serial collaborator. He’s labored with Champion, Converse, adidas and even Birkenstock, to call a handful. However few of his artistic partnerships have been so anticipated as his most up-to-date linkup with Dr. Martens. And even fewer have been fairly so effectively matched.
Launched March 20 and, predictably, offered out in minutes at primarily each outlet deemed worthy sufficient to hold them, the collaboration pays tribute to the model and designer’s shared roots in goth tradition, an aesthetic Owens has labored to pioneer in mainstream trend by means of the intricacies of his designs during the last 27 years. One thing that manifests right here in a novel, contrast-color pentagram lacing system and side-zip characteristic.
In essence, it’s a win-win collaboration. For these true believers who suppose Owens has spent a lifetime of labor co-opting an aesthetic that doesn’t actually belong to him—though, at which level, after what number of many years precisely, do you simply have to surrender an argument like this?—this can be a stamp of subcultural authenticity. For Dr. Martens, this can be a full-scale embrace from the world of excessive trend.
Dr. Martens x Pleasure Division + New Order (2018)
Combining arguably one of the vital recognizable silhouettes in footwear historical past, the Dr. Martens 1460 boot, with inarguably essentially the most recognizable piece of artwork in trendy music historical past, the duvet for Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures, this one simply needed to occur.
One piece of a three-part collaboration that additionally featured art work from New Order albums Power Corruption & Lies and Technique, every factor of the triptych is a standout piece of footwear historical past.
Nonetheless, it’s the Joy Division collaboration that’s essentially the most placing, exactly as a result of it’s so clearly Joy Division. Its distinctly melancholy, black-on-black embossed leather-based—which steals the present right here—captures the identical sort of downbeat, unassuming brilliance that outlined their sound.
Dr. Martens x X-GIRL (2020)
Greater than this, although, based in 1994, X-GIRL may be very a lot an emergent power in a scene dominated by male artists, designers, skaters and followers. It represents a sartorial voice for ladies in a sphere the place they’d been made to really feel lower than welcome and fewer than equal.
With an aesthetic that riffs on streetwear, excessive sports activities, navy particulars and hardwearing supplies, X-GIRL makes for an apparent associate to Docs. Each manufacturers revolve round an identical set of ideas, and each have intentionally eschewed gender stereotypes in both route.
As with X-GIRL’s personal providing, this collaboration is all within the particulars: embossed, inexperienced camouflage-patterned leather-based and branded laces sit comfortably alongside DMs’ ordinary black colorway and its trademark sole, neither one detracting from the opposite. This one’s all a couple of shared perspective to life, and it reveals.
Dr. Martens x Supreme x UNDERCOVER x Public Enemy (2018)
Whereas Dr. Martens isn’t precisely liable for the actions of people that put on them, there’s nothing fairly like simply popping out and saying it along with your chest.
Simply because the overwhelmingly anti-racist majority of ’60s skinheads decried the deplorable phrases and deeds of the white nationalist factions of their midst, the corporate has additionally accomplished a fairly stable job of distancing themselves from these cancerous parts within the intervening years since.
Nonetheless: In case you, or anybody, have been nonetheless questioning, this four-way collaboration is an announcement of intent. Nothing fairly says “these are usually not our values” like stamping the phrases “FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET” throughout a pair of your most iconic sneakers in collaboration with a famously outspoken Black hip-hop collective.
The collaboration additionally artfully nods to 2 different area of interest cultural spheres the place DMs have made their affect recognized through the years—New York skate tradition, courtesy of field emblem pioneers Supreme, and high-end Japanese streetwear, with UNDERCOVER additionally placing their stamp on this explicit design.
It’s a neat encapsulation of all the things that Dr. Martens stands for and what it doesn’t. In some ways, it’s the right collaboration.