Dr. Martens journey from Punk to Funky


UgoCamera / IFEMA

They’re there and everywhere and never left our feet ever since they were launched as we know them in the 1960s.

Used by workers and the military Dr. Martens shoes are a true tale of a success story when they were adopted by the youth culture, particularly after the mid 1970’s by those affiliated to punk music and pogo dancing. Along with trench coats and hair gel they became a symbol of a generation who started wearing them for both their comfort and design. 71 years after they were invented the shoes with the distinguishing sole are still around, having been adopted in the process by new generations and youth and music movements. Doc Martens have always been synonym to subculture. In recent decades they made it to the high street, but never lost its alternative penchant and its strong link to music. The catwalk has long discovered them and Docs feature often in fashion shows as a means to reinforce the subculture nature of some collections and designers. 2016 is no exception to this enduring trend. During their recent presentation at Madrid Fashion Week a new Spanish design venture by Xavi Garcia and Franx de Cristal under the name 44 Studio used them to complement the looks and chose the classic boots with red shoelaces. Viktor & Rolf used also classic Docs in their Haute Couture SS16 Show, claiming they were “the ideal juxtaposition. Dr. Martens shoes have a punky feeling and are very down to earth.” And if look carefully at this year’s fashion shows you will find a handful of designers featuring them in their shows.

Martens porcelain

And while teenagers dig in the family’s closet, bringing old Docs to life, others are now discovering the brand in stores worldwide. Despite continued sales of their classic models, particularly the 1460 model, the brand keeps launching new models in colour block, with paint splash or flower prints. Two of the most striking and recent examples are the new Renaissance designs for this Spring, inspired in the painting “The Triumph of Camillus” by D’Antonio, an Italian painter from the 15th century; or the current Winter collection still in the shops with china and porcelain designs whereby the ageing process of coated suede leather mimics the porcelain cracks over time. Flower patterns have feature also in every Dr. Martens Spring collection, pretty like brogues in every winter collection. And should you wish to make a statement in a gala evening browse the Web and look for some old models of the brand in velvet burgundy. Most of these prints and materials are applied on classic models. Dr. Martens have made attempts at launching new shapes featuring new sole designs but once a classic always a classic and consumers still go massively to the classic shapes with or without yellow stitching, the very same stitching introduced by the Griggs family that gave Docs that distinctive touch in 1960 when the brand went global.

Dr.-Martens-Spring renaissance

The story of this brand is closely related to the British Griggs family and to the German Dr. Klaus Maertens. The story of the cushioned sole dates back to 1945 when Dr. Martens created it while convalescing from a broken foot. Using a cobbler last, used by both shoemakers and shoe menders to mold or to repair shoes, and a stich he made a prototype which he later showed Dr. Herbert Funk. Fifteen years after the Griggs family, who had been making durable boots since 1901 in a small town in Northamptonshire came across these cushioned soles that had been produced since 1947 by the aforementioned German Drs. who had been making these shoes mostly for the military.

Carlos Tomé Sousa


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