To chart the beginnings of the Dr. Martens brand, we must travel back in time to 1945. The scene is a little German town called Seeshaupt, near Munich, where a German medical doctor named Klaus Maertens suffered a foot injury while skiing in the Bavarian Alps.
As he was convalescing, Dr. Maertens hit upon the idea of developing a soft leather shoe with a revolutionary air-padded sole to provide extra comfort and support. He teamed up with an old engineering friend from university, Dr. Herbert Funck, and they began to develop the idea further, soon unveiling the world's first heat-sealed, air-cushioned sole. Initially, 80% of Dr. Martens sales were to women aged 40 and over, hard-working German housewives who craved comfort. Now, in the early 21st century, dedicated women's Dr. Martens are offered in a range of styles, with Dr. Martens mary janes and Dr. Martens sandals
being must-haves for many comfort shoe lovers.
By the late 1950s, Dr. Martens shoes featuring the revolutionary sole were selling well in Germany under the brand name Dr. Maertens, but the two men were keen to explore new opportunities and expand to new markets. They placed advertisements in trade magazines, where one was spotted by the keen-eyed chairman of an English footwear manufacturer called R. Griggs & Co.
Bill Griggs's company had a footwear pedigree stretching back to the beginning of the 20th century, but he was on the lookout for something new. Recognizing the boundless potential of the revolutionary soles, Bill acquired the global rights to the air-cushioned sole and set to work on developing a range of footwear to complement it. Griggs renamed and trademarked the soles as "AirWair" and implemented the instantly recognized yellow-stitch welt. The name was anglicized to Dr. Martens—commonly called "Doc Martens," or simply "Docs," today—and a brand was launched.
The first Dr. Martens boot available in the U.K. was released on the first of April 1960, the date giving the name to the iconic Dr. Martens 1460
eight eye boot which to this day remains the most popular men's Dr. Martens style. Mailmen, policemen and factory workers were early fans of the brand. (Nowadays, protective Dr. Martens steel toe boots and shoes are popular choices for on-the-job footwear.)
By the late 1960s, skinheads had embraced the brand, and by the late 1970s, Dr Martens boots had been adopted by the punk rock and New Wave movements: Around the globe, Dr. Martens shoes continue to enjoy considerable popularity with musicians, actors, entertainment personalities, subculture groups, cutting-edge youth or simply the young at heart.
The company also offers a range of kids' Dr. Martens so they can make their own fashion statements. Girls' Dr. Martens styles include mary janes, sandals and mini-1460 boots, while many boys' Dr. Martens are a little more rough-and-tumble, with oxfords and boots assembled using the classic yellow-stitch welt construction.