My daughters and I share something in common – we all love Doc Martens shoes and boots! Individually we have quite impressive collections; collectively, our collection is ridiculously huge, bordering on the obsessive! I have decided these amazing pieces of footwear deserve some blogging space and recognition for their greatness.
A Potted History of the Doc Martens Brand
It may not surprise you to hear that Doc Martens began as hard-wearing work boots. I certainly remember as a child in the 80’s seeing hordes of workmen marching to work wearing these black sturdy boots. Perhaps more surprising is that their origins lie in the early 20th century and not only that, but their origins are multi-faceted. The Griggs company had been manufacturing work boots in Northamptonshire, England since 1901. The story then switches to Germany during the Second World War. A German army Doctor, Dr Kluas Maertens, was skiing in 1945 when he injured his ankle. Finding that standard-issue army boots were incredibly uncomfortable, he altered the boots to aid his healing process. Using padded soles made of tyres he created a unique air-cushioned sole. In 1947 Maertens went into business with an old friend Herbert Funk together marketing and manufacturing the shoes he had created. By 1959, the pair advertised their shoes across the globe, catching the attention of the Griggs company who purchased patent rights to produce the shoes in the UK. They altered the heel slightly and added the yellow stitching to the trademark boots and were marketed as ‘Airwair’. Additionally, the German doctor’s name was anglicised and the first pair of Dr Martens boots became available in the UK on 1st April 1960. They were labelled ‘1460’ and featured an 8-holed lace; this style is still made today.
An Enduring Brand
The boots, with a justified reputation for both comfort and endurance, became popular with workers from all sectors, from police officers and postal workers to musicians. They soon became associated with skin-heads and the punk movement. By the 1980s, they became the fashion icon of a particular sub-culture, a symbol of rebellion and youth. Docs have stood the test of time, retaining their popularity throughout the 90’s and in the 00’s, a new generation of consumers have guaranteed this brand retains its fashionability.
In many ways, Docs symbolise something of a by-gone era, a punk rebellion, and are tinged with a hefty helping of nostalgia. However, their persistence cannot be attributed to this alone, but to the undeniable high quality of a shoe or boot that offers footwear for all occasions. They can be comfortably worn while mountain climbing, or for a stroll in the park. Their overall appearance is aesthetically pleasing meanwhile practicality is a primary design concern. My grandparents did not lie when they told me that to buy a pair of docs is to have a boot for life, no matter where I go, I always take my docs!
Our Collection of Doc Martens
We began our extensive collection about 3 years ago when I started to buy Doc Martens for myself and my daughters. I was really surprised when I discovered just how many varieties of Docs there are. I simply associated Docs with the classic boots I remember from my childhood. Nowadays there are not only boots, but shoes and even sandals!
One of my favourite pairs of docs are the high top pink trainers (pictured above). They’re so comfortable, I usually wera them when I know I’ll be on my feet all day.
We have become affecionately known as the ‘Doc Martens’ family!!!
My latest purchase are the absolute beauties! As a medieval historian, I was naturally drawn to the design – St George slaying the dragon. I’m yet to wear these – I’m sure I’ll get a mixed reaction! I even love the box!
There are dozens of Doc Martens stores across the country and staff are always friendly and extremely helpful. You may pay a little bit extra for a Doc Martens shoes or boots as opposed to other brands, (although I find them to be cheaper than many other brands) however, for us, they are worth every penny! They hardly show signs of wear or indeed become unfashionable.3