Dr. Martens are a very distinguishable boot. An icon of the self-expression movement, they are commonly worn by those who strive for an individual style. Although the style of Dr. Martens shoes and boots is relatively simplistic, it gives the user the look of someone with both attitude and empowerment while allowing them to style the rest of their outfit however suits them. Although they are now seen as a core part of gig fashion they have undergone a massive transformation since they were first brought to the shelves.
Starting out in 1901 in a small town called Wollaston, the Griggs family were at the heart of the English shoe industry. Incredibly talented at their trade, they earned a good reputation for the durability of their work boots. A few short years later in later post-war Munich, Dr. Klaus Maertens, a 25 year old soldier, created an air-cushioned sole to help recover from a broken foot. Using just a cobbler’s last and a needle, he was able to create a prototype and show it to an old friend from university and mechanical engineer, Dr. Herbert Funk.
Using disused military supplies a partnership was born and by 1947 they had begun a formal production of their unique shoe with the innovative sole. Within the next 10 years business had boomed and with interest of mainly older women, they were able to push the shoe further and further. In 1959 they took the plunge and began advertising their footwear in magazines in the overseas market.
By this time the Griggs company was being run by the third generation of the family. Brothers Bill, Ray and Colin, alongside Bill’s son Max, were running the show and while scanning a shoe trade magazine Bill’s attention was caught by the advertisement taken out by Klaus and Herbert. As a result the Griggs family took out an exclusive license to the boot with a few key changes. The result was the eight-holed 1460 Dr. Martens boots, and with this an icon was born.
Throughout the 1960s the boot was worn by postmen and factory workers, largely as a result of the excellent quality and comfort associated with the boot. Suddenly, early ska-loving skinheads picked up the boot and brought it into their own fashion range, resulting in The Who’s Pete Townshend being the first popular icon to wear them to symbolise his rebellious attitude and pride in his background. This brought about a change in the way Dr. Martens would be viewed forever.
Over the following decades the brand would fit in with the most rebellious music of the day and by the 2000s, it became synonymous with festival culture. Although the early 00s brought a decline so steep that all but one factory had to be closed in the UK by 2003 sales picked up again when high fashion designers brought back the 1460 boot with new styles and customization. To this day Dr. Martens are growing further in popularity and can be seen on the feet of music lovers nationwide.
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