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Why Timberland, Dr. Martens and Wolverine Are Updating Their Classics

Soft Rock

Famously heavy and stiff, the formidable 1460 boot by Dr. Martens has been a symbol of rebellion since the 1960s, standing strong and tall during waves of cultural and social change. Ironically, the boot has changed little since its inception, until recently with the introduction of DM’s Lite collection in September 2016.
DM’s Lite takes the iconic DNA of the 8-eye 1460 boot—durability, attitude and signature yellow stitching—and repackages it with a SoftWair technology insole for comfort and a lightweight Phylon midsole that is 260 grams (or one-third) lighter than its Goodyear-welted forerunner. The final product, a style called the Newton, is an evolved version of the punk favorite with the fit and feel of athletic footwear.

The collection is Dr. Martens’ direct response to the athleisure movement, spanning lightweight versions of the traditional black soled loafers and oxfords to a hybrid series of sneaker/oxfords, sneaker/loafers and sneaker/boots with bold white outsoles.

With the first full season of DM’s Lite footwear out in the market, the brand let us in on how the new styles came to be.

VAMP: Are you reaching a different consumer with DM’s Lite?
DM: [We’re reaching] a broader consumer base than which we have traditionally attracted. We believe that we have developed a future icon that transcends workwear to fashion. These consumers will be free-thinking individuals who may have never worn a pair of Dr. Martens before, or those who have been with the brand forever.

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VAMP: Dr. Martens is a heritage brand. How do you maintain Dr. Martens’ brand identity in modern models?
DM: Consumers and their attitudes to product are constantly evolving so we need to remain constantly abreast of this to ensure the longevity of the brand and its connection to them. We then take our considerable footwear construction knowledge and apply this to delivering a shoe that is right for their lifestyle choices.

In addition to this, we will always pride ourselves on the foundations that have built this brand to be what it is today. Anchoring ourselves in our Originals product will continue, however, as seen with the introduction of DM’s Lite, we are certainly excited about bringing a new face of the brand through product innovation and evolution and with this will come a new consumer persona.

VAMP: What influence has athleisure had on your decision to introduce DM’s Lite?
DM: The thought process from the outset was simply the consumer’s needs. We had conducted several rounds of global focus groups and in a few of those sessions you had guys and girls who had only ever worn sneakers but liked the brand. Ensuring that we didn’t go chasing the sneaker brands but offer something that would meet the needs of this consumer stimulated the brief for DM’s Lite.

If you place the DM’s Lite and the 1460 side by side, it’s undeniable that they are siblings but simply separated by 56 years.

VAMP: But people still want the look of Dr. Martens.
DM: If you place the DM’s Lite and the 1460 side by side, it’s undeniable that they are siblings but simply separated by 56 years. All the characteristics and DNA from our iconic 1460 boot can be seen in the Newton style, starting with the recognizable 8-eye upper, grooved midsoles, yellow stitch details and the branded Airwair heel tab. The design team have brought an element of modernity to DM’s through changing the construction of the midsole and in doing this have lightened the consumer wearing experience.

VAMP: By eliminating weight, do you run the risk of making it seem less rebellious or punk-ish?
DM: Our product, its innovation and communications come from an innate obsession with understanding who the diverse consumers are that buy into the brand and what they are looking for to suit their lifestyle choices and individual style. Coupled with this, we also have a laser focus around guarding the brand’s DNA while keeping up with the current trends. Our purpose is to empower self-expression through creative personal styling of our unique product. We do this by rigorously upholding our design principles, rich social heritage, people diversity, non-conformist attitude and through our unrivaled involvement in music.