Combining German engineering and British craftsmanship, the first 1460 boots were released by Dr. Martens on 1 April 1960—and named for that date. The intended customer was working-class men with very physical jobs, but by the mid-’60s an unexpected adoption took hold: musicians and style pioneers began wearing them, making a statement on the importance of how utility and aesthetics co-exist. This year Dr. Martens celebrates this legacy with their 1460 Remastered Series, collaborating with 12 pioneering brands with whom they have long-standing relationships—and releasing one collaboration per month. Each partner was asked “What does the 1460 mean to you?” and they responded to the brief with a design that celebrates the legacy of Dr. Martens and adds their own signature twist to the classic boots. This month sees the brand reveal their latest with long-time collaborator Yohji Yamamoto.
Yamamto and the others collaborators were deeply familiar with the inception story of Dr. Martens boots, which begins back in 1945 when a skiing accident led Dr Klaus Märtens himself to seek out more comfortable shoes for his injured foot. He asked a friend and mechanical engineer Dr Herbert Funk to help develop a boot that featured a more comfortable and lighter air-cushioned sole. The pair searched for a shoemaker to help bring their vision to life, and found the Griggs family who had been making boots in Northamptonshire, England since 1901. The Griggs took a leap of faith and signed an exclusive license to manufacture the boots.
The original Dr. Martens advertisements were aimed at police officers, postal carriers and factory workers. The bright yellow advertisement offered “AirWair with Bouncing Soles” that provided unprecedented comfort. It ended with the statement: “a most pleasant experience for the much-abused foot.”
By the ’60s, The Who’s Pete Townshend sported them as a symbol of his working-class upbringing. During the ’70s, they became a punk favorite. Viv Albertine of the Slits wore hers with a dress. Eventually, Dr. Martens were worn by ’90s grunge icons like Eddie Vedder. A 1994 advertisement for the brand read, “Only tattoos last longer.”
Along the way, there have been collaborations with Vivienne Westwood, Jimmy Choo, Hello Kitty, and Lazy Oaf. Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto remembers wearing a pair in 1981 and has collaborated with the brand for over a decade. On 25 April, Yamamoto’s 1460 Remastered Series boots are released.
The boots’ smooth black leather upper are laser-cut with Yamamoto’s spider web pattern and his signature is embossed into the tongue. The laces are decoratively woven into an antiglare spiderweb with yellow stitching and gold-topped eyelets. While decorative, they embody Yamamoto’s knack for blending the traditionally masculine and feminine, and celebrating nonconformity.
The 1460 Remastered series began in January with an A Bathing Ape, who responded with a signature camouflage print. In February, Belgian fashion designer and current Prada creative director, Raf Simons revealed a smooth black leather iteration with nickel rings—inspired by the New Romantic scene of the 1970s and his attraction to mid-century design. Then, in March, a three-way collaboration paired the skate culture style of Babylon LA with the minimalism of BEAMS Japan. Inspired by the rude boys of the 1960s, their version features a double-stripe of BEAMS’ signature orange.
Eight more 1460 designs are poised to be revealed this year. But from high-end fashion collaborations to DIY customization, Dr. Martens remains a symbol of rebellion and non-conformity. For several decades Dr. Martens has stayed true to their design philosophy while adapting to changing styles—the result is a utilitarian product that’s as relevant now as it was 60 years ago.
Images courtesy of Dr. Martens