Seldom do things last very long nowadays, even if they are made as a hard wearing, industrial item rather than a five minute fashion fad. Yet for 50 years, generations in the UK have been lured towards an almost indestructible work boot, designed for comfort and have made it a household name for fashionable boots in the same way as vacuum cleaners are called â€˜Hoovers’ regardless of their make.
Despite being produced since 1960 in Britain and seen as an important part of the uniform for thousands of cult groups in Britain over the decades, Dr. Marten’s origins are German and there intended use was to provide a comfortable, cushioned sole boot for workers who spent the majority of their working day on their feet. The British version of the original work boot quickly became a favourite of the working class man, offering comfort with the safety of steel toe caps.
Every generation of youngsters looks for its own identity and the distinctive eight eyelet, laced boot, usually in Cherry Red, was as much feared as coveted by youngsters in the 1970s, forming an essential part of the shortened jeans, tee shirt and braces uniform of the British Skinhead. Even within this group the â€˜Docs’ or â€˜Bovver Boots’ as they were often known as, could help establish status, with the fourteen hole eyelet laced boot being the ultimate status symbol.
Joining an elite group of products to star in major feature films like James Bond’s Aston Martin sports car, Dr Marten boots waded in with their over sized features in the rock classic film â€˜Tommy’. Worn by Elton John in the film, these Dr Martens stood 137 cm (four foot six inches) high and can be found today exhibited in Northampton museum.
Today, the appeal of Dr Marten foot ware remains as strong as ever, despite competition from other branded industrial boots. Bought by many who will never see the inside of a factory, the foot ware with the distinctive yellow stitching that joins the supple leather to the air cushioned sole, has widened its offering beyond that original work boot to include laced and slip on shoes for men and a range of both shoes and decorative boots for women.
But for the fateful skiing accident of a young German Army Doctor, Klaus MÃ¤rtens who needed a more comfortable, cushioned soled boot to wear after hurting his ankle, we might never have experienced the comfort and style of the iconic â€˜Doc Martens‘ boot.