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13/01/2010

Dr. Martens - Doc Martens


This photo was taken in Camden Town, London,
Klaus Märtens was a doctor in the German army during World War II. While on leave in 1945, he injured his ankle while skiing in the Bavarian Alps. He found that his standard-issue army boots were too uncomfortable on his injured foot. While recuperating, he designed improvements to the boots, with soft leather, and air-padded soles. When the war ended and some Germans looted valuables from their own cities, Märtens took leather from a cobbler's shop. With that leather he made himself a pair of boots with air-cushioned soles.
Märtens didn't have much luck selling his shoes until he met up with an old university friend, Dr. Herbert Funck, in Munich in 1947. Funck was intrigued by the new shoe design, and the two went into business that year in Seeshaupt, Germany, using discarded rubber from Luftwaffe airfields. The comfortable and durable soles were a big hit with housewives, with 80% of sales in the first decade going to women over the age of 40.
Sales had grown so much by 1952 that they opened a factory in Munich. In 1959, the company had grown large enough that Märtens and Funck looked at marketing the footwear internationally. Almost immediately, British shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group Ltd. bought patent rights to manufacture the shoes in the United Kingdom. Griggs anglicized the name, slightly re-shaped the heel to make them fit better, added the trademark yellow stitching, and trademarked the soles as AirWair.
The first Doc Martens (Dr. Martens) boots in the United Kingdom came out on 1 April, 1960 (hence known as style 1460 and still in production today) with an eight-eyelet, cherry-red, Nappa leather design. Originally Dr. Martens were made by a number of shoe manufacturers in the Northamptonshire area, as long as they passed quality standards. They were popular among workers such as postmen, police officers and factory workers. By the late 1960s, skinheads started wearing Dr. Martens boots. By the late 1970s, Dr. Martens boots were popular among some British punk rock and New Wave musicians, and soon many punk fans were wearing them. The boots and shoes then became popular among other youth subcultures.
On 1 April 2003, under pressure from declining sales, the Dr. Martens company ceased all production in the United Kingdom, with production moved to China and Thailand. With this change also came the end of the company's vegan-friendly non-leather products, which were produced since January, 2000. In 2007, the company began producing footwear again in England, in the Cobbs Lane Factory in Wollaston. These products, the "Vintage" line which the company advertises as being made to the original specs, can be purchased at the Dr. Martens USA website or the Dr. Martens UK website.

1 comment:

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