One of the coolest things about Dr. Martens is their decidedly uncool beginnings. The first pair was designed in 1960 by German doctor Klaus Maertens (yes, he was a real person), who needed a sturdy shoe with a cushioned sole to wear while recovering from a ski injury. The boots quickly caught on with factory workers and mailmen, but it wasn’t until a few years later when The Who’s Pete Townshend wore his Docs onstage that the brand became a must-have for stylish subversives—mods, rockers and everything in between—across the globe.
Today, Dr. Martens are still a mainstay among sartorial risk takers from Miley Cyrus (she infamously wore a pair—and nothing else—in her “Wrecking Ball” video) to model Agyness Deyn, who loves the brand so much she’s collaborated with it not once but three times, most recently this past fall. “I’ve worn Dr. Martens for longer than I haven’t at this point,” she says. “The history of the brand is so strong, it rubs off on you. They truly stand for something—that’s why I love working with them.”
Lucky accessories editor Melissa Lum echoes the sentiment. “I’ve owned a lot of different shoes, but I’ve always had at least one pair of Docs in my closet over the years,” she says. “It’s a casual boot, but it’s one that gets you noticed.”
It’s also an insanely versatile one. In an oxblood style with skinny jeans, you’re tomboy-punk; in a floral version and a long flowy dress, you’re completely boho. Lum laces hers up whenever she’s feeling nostalgic: “I put my basic black pair on whenever I want to channel ’90s-era Courtney Love—in a good way,” she laughs.
Dr. Martens have come a long way since their working-class roots. And though the brand has certainly evolved in the 50 years since its humble debut, one thing remains unchanged: The eight-hole boot is still the fastest, easiest way to make a statement; the ultimate shortcut to street cred.