“It's not class or ideology,
Color, creed, or roots,
The only thing that unites us
Is Dr. Marten's boots!”
Dr. Martens, Doc’s, DM’s: whatever the name, the rugged rubber sole with patented airwalk design, the distinctive yellow stitching, the AirWair loop...they could only be Doc Martens. The Pope wears them. And the Dalai Lama, too. This anti-fashion statement of the youth subculture has climbed its way into the masses and now rests on the feet of postmen to pontiff.
After a certain Dr. Maerten injured his foot in a skiing accident in 1949, he and partner Dr. Funck created a revolutionary sole that trapped air inside two layers of rubber polyurethane. Originally marketed as orthopedic shoes and sold to housewives, Dr. Maerten sold the cushioned sole rights to Bill Griggs in 1958, and the rest, as they say, is history.
The first official “Dr. Marten” (note spelling change) workboot walked off the production line April 1, 1960, and was branded style 1460 after the momentous occasion. The Dr. Marten boot immediately stomped the competition with its quality and craftsmanship. The boot featured the airwalk sole, the distinctive yellow stitching, and its special heat fusion of body and sole to guarantee durability.
The sturdy yet comfortable eight-eyelet ankle boot became a staple for postmen and other workers until it marched onto the British skinhead scene in the late 1960’s. The adoption of the boot by a teenage sect marked the transition of lower-class functionality to across-the-classes fashion.
Mods adopted the shoe as part of their stylish uniform after The Who’s Pete Townsend made the boots a part of his wardrobe. The Who’s 1975 rock-opera movie Tommy featured a towering Pinball Wizard (played by Elton John) in a 54-inch high pair of twelve-eye Doc Marten boots. Four years later, revivalist mods adopted the cherry red 1460’s to wear with their parkas while cruising the streets on their Vespa scooters after watching the Who-inspired movie, Quadrophenia.
The punk movement of the late 70’s embraced the rugged and stylish Docs, and classic punk bands like The Clash, Buzzcocks and The Damned wore the boots religiously, as did their fans. The punk exposure fueled the fervor for the British boots in America, and America’s West Coast hardcore bands like Black Flag adopted the boots for their street credible style.
The boot’s comfort, durability and fashion have attracted a cult-like following from both trendsetters and workmen alike. Doc Marten produces over 10 million pairs a year, selling 40,000 pairs a day across the world. Styles range from the traditional 8-eye boot, the low 3-eye shoe and the stomping 20-eye knee high. Doc Martens have remained customer friendly, offering a wide variety of styles in every color and fabric. The company even produces a vegetarian-friendly boot out of synthetic materials.
While the name Dr. Martens will remain synonymous with boots, the company now creates shoes for the whole family. Stylish sandals and 'baby docs' for the youngsters cross the anti-fashion barriers and bring the comfort of Dr. Martens to everybody. They truly are a universal fashion.
But perhaps the British cult heroes The Young Ones said it best in their homage to the boots:
“Dr. Martens, boots of the world,
So that everybody can be free.
They're classless, matchless, ageless and waterproof.
And retail for only 19 pounds and 99p
What should everyone be wearing?
Those boots with the air-flow soles...
Thanks to Dr. Marten everyone will have warm feet,
Thanks to Dr. Marten they'll be dancing in the street...”
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