Saturday, December 19, 2009

History of Dr. Martens

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
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
Märtens didn't have
much luck selling his
shoes until he met up
with an old university
friend, Dr. Herbert
Funck, in Munich 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
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 (hence
known as style 1460
and still in production
today) with an eight-
eyelet, cherry-red,
Nappa leather design.
Originally Dr. Martens
were made by a
number of shoe
manufacturers in the
area, as long as they
passed quality
standards. They were
popular among
workers such as
postmen, police
officers and factory
workers. By the late
1960s, skinheads
started wearing Dr.
Martens boots. By the
late 1970s, Dr.
Martens boots were
popular among some
British punk rock and
New Wave musicians,
and soon many punk
fans were wearing

The boots and
shoes then became
popular among other
youth subcultures.
Dr. Martens
sponsored Rushden &
Diamonds F.C. from
1998 to 2003. When a
new main stand was
built at Nene Park in
2001, the stand was
named the 'Airwair
Stand' in recognition
of the sponsorship
link. 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,[1] with
production moved to
China and Thailand.
With this change also
came the end of the
company's vegan-
friendly non-leather
products, which were
produced since
January, 2000. In 2007,
the company began
producing footwear
again in England, in
the Cobbs Lane
Factory in Wollaston.
These products, the
"Vintage" line which
the company
advertises as being
made to the original
specs, can be
purchased at the Dr.
Martens USA website
or the Dr. Martens UK

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