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Dr Martens Boots started out as a work wear boot and at one point was even sold as a gardening shoe. So how did this modest boot transform into an iconic piece of British footwear? And especially one that appeals to so many people with their own unique style and character?
The story dates to post war Munich and a soldier by the name of Dr Klaus Maertens. Recovering from a broken foot, he developed an air cushioned sole and showed it to an old university friend. They then went into business to develop their unique shoes and went into production in 1947.
In 1959 the friends and now partners decided to advertise their footwear invention in overseas magazines. And over in England, the Griggs family, well known for shoemaking in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, noticed an advert for their air cushioned sole.
They acquired an exclusive license and some key changes were then made. These included the heel and now famous yellow welted stitch. The new Dr Martens boots were branded as Airwair. Based on Bill Griggs own handwriting, the slogan ” with bouncing soles” was born and the 1460 Made in England Dr Martens Boots were born. The 1460 eight holed boots took its name from the date of their inception, ( 1st April 1960 ) .
The 1960s. – Doc Martens boots began first being worn by post men and factory workers. They also brought £2 work boots to Britain’s working classes. But, it wasn’t long before something started to happen. Dr Martens were then adopted as part of the Ska-loving skinheads as well as Pete Townsend from The Who. They now had a high profile rocker now proudly wearing their boots. And as such became a symbol of Pete’s working class roots. Doc Martens now began to appeal to a new generation of young people.
By the end of the 1970’s, Dr Martens had become a British symbol of self expression amongst the Glam rock and Punk culture. Then the 80’s saw the introduction of more floral patterns that appealed to girls. And as music artists from the USA took them back home after their UK tours, this helped create a new subculture.
Grunge and Brit Pop in the 1990’s saw Doc Martens once again appeal to a whole new genre of festival goers. But, shortly after the 40th anniversary of the boot, sales declined. They declined so dramatically that every factory bar one in the UK had to close to help stave off bankruptcy. In 2003 the brand was once again revitalised as many high fashion designers began to customise Dr Martens. And in 2007 the Cobbs Lane factory in Northamptonshire began once again hand making Dr Martens Boots and shoes.
Without music, Doc Martens would have probably stayed a workwear boot, and in 2021, they celebrated 60 years.
More and more people are being introduced to the classic original style of the Doc Martens 1460 boots and shoes. The shoes have remained popular through the decades and are still seen as a symbol of individualism and self–expression. Hopefully this footwear icon can continue for years to come and maybe increase it’s Made in England production.
Currently only around 2% of Dr Martens boots and shoes are Made in England. So make sure you are getting the original and best quality and ensure they are the genuine article. Purchase from the Dr Martens Made in England collection on their website and see their collection on this page.
Click on the image below to shop direct for British made Dr Martens official Made in England collection. Find a great range of 1460 ankle boots and shoes, classic vintage styles, in a variety of colours including the famous ox blood.
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