Most people think of Dr Martens as the maker of men’s work-boots, in reality the first commercial products that they made were popular with German housewives. Because they were on their feet all day it was the air-padded soles that attracted them.At first, 80% of his clients were women.
Klaus Martens was a doctor in the German army, when he found that the army boots he was issued with aggravated an old skiing injury, so he made his own pair of boots to help relieve the pain. In 1947 he teamed up with an old friend, Dr Herbert Funck to make the first pair of Dr Martens to be sold to the public.
In 1952 they opened their first factory in Munich and started distributing their shoes internationally in 1959. R Giggs brought the rights to make and market Dr Marten shoes in the UK, where they were an instant hit.
Giggs made some changes to the heel, added yellow stitching and changed the name of the soles to AirWair. The first pair of Dr Martens made by R Giggs were sold on 1 April 1960. They were the 1460 model, in cherry red made with 8 laces holes, a style that is still on sale today.
Initially, they were only popular with postmen, policemen and other workers who were on their feet for most of the day. In the late 1960s they became popular amongst skinheads. Then in the 70s Punk Rockers started wearing them too. Since then they have become popular with other young wearers.
Dr Martens now produce a very wide range of footwear, so appeal to many different types of people. They still sell boots and safety wear footwear, but in many different styles and colours. Up until 2003 they even produced a vegan friendly version that did not involve the use of any animal products. The key to their longevity has been their innovative and flexible approach. Without doubt Dr Martens will still be making shoes for the world in another 50 years time.
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