Dr. Martens is a traditional British footwear brand, which also makes a range of accessories – shoe care products, clothing, luggage, etc. In addition to Dr. Martens, they are known as Doctor Martens, Doc Martens, Docs or DMs. The footwear is distinct because of its unique air-cushioned sole (dubbed Bouncing Soles), upper shape, welted construction and yellow stitching. They are one of the most popular and well-known footwear brands in the world, and are iconic to the fashion industry
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 did not have much success selling his shoes until he met up with an old university friend, Dr. Herbert Funck, inMunich 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 Dr. Martens boots in the United Kingdom came out on 1 April 1960 (known as style 1460 and still in production today), with an eight-eyelet Ox Blood Smooth leather design. Originally Dr. Martens were made in their Cobbs Lane factory (which is still working today). In addition, a number of shoe manufacturers in the Northamptonshire area also produced DM's under license, as long as they passed quality standards. They were popular among workers such aspostmen, police officers and factory workers. By the early 1970s, skinheads started wearing them, and by the late 1980s, they were popular among punks, someNew Wave musicians, and members of other youth subcultures.
Dr. Martens sponsored Rushden & Diamonds F.C. from 1998 to 2003, and when a new main stand was built at Nene Park in 2001, it was named the Airwair Stand. In the 2000s, Dr. Martens were sold exclusively under the AirWair name, and came in dozens of different styles, including conventional black shoes, sandals and steel-toed boots.
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 andThailand. With this change also came the end of the company's vegan-friendly non-leather products, which were produced since the early 1990s. The switch to Chinese and Thai production led to Solovair and Tredair boots gaining popularity amongst the punk and skinhead subcultures, as these boots are similar to Dr. Martens and continue to be manufactured in the United Kingdom.
In 2007, Dr. Martens began producing footwear again in England, in the Cobbs Lane Factory in Wollaston. These products are part of the "Vintage" line, which the company advertises as being made to the original specs.
In April 2010, the Doc Martens 14-Hole black leather boot won two fashion awards at the 2010 Fashion Show in New York City; one for the 'most popular men's footwear in latest fashion' and the other for 'best counter-cultural footwear of the decade'bb