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The Tiger

The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

The Student News Site of Elmwood Park High School

The Tiger

The History Behind Dr. Martens

This is a picture of Dr. Kalus Maerten (on the right) and his partner (on the left) Dr. Herber Funk.

Whether it be rain, mud, or snow, Dr. Martens can withstand any condition. This timeless footwear not only has a surprising durability, but an intriguing backstory. It all began in 1945 in Seeshaupt, Germany with Dr. Klaus Maerten, a 25-year old Nazi soldier. The purpose for creating these shoes was to bring comfort to Dr. Maertens broken foot since his standard military boots were too uncomfortable to wear. His first pair of shoes were made with soft leather and air-cushioned soles to make the wearability more pleasant on his foot.

The first design of the Dr. Martens shoes.

After creating his first pair of shoes, Dr. Klaus Maerten began to make a prototype to show to his friend, a mechanical engineer, named Dr. Herber Funk. The two began a partnership by using unused military supplies to begin producing their own unique shoes. Once 1947 hit, they started production on the boots. Within a decade their business was very successful, mostly selling to older women. By 1959, they decided to advertise their innovative footwear in overseas magazines. Through overseas advertising, it was then that Maerten and Funk’s shoes were recognized by the England based Griggs company. The Griggs company were known for their boots and soon bought rights to manufacture the shoes in the UK. The shoes were altered slightly from the original design, with a different heel, the signature yellow stitching, and a more rounded toe. These modified shoes were branded as “AirWair”, and in April 1960, the first 8-eyed Dr. Marten boot was revealed.

Pete Townshend from “The Who” rock band.

Initially, these boots were popular with England’s working class, but soon became a favorite fashion choice for followers in British rock bands throughout the 60’s. Pete Townshend, a former guitarist from the rock band “The Who”, was one of the first influential musicians to wear Dr. Martens. He wore them as a way to express his own working class pride and rebellious attitude. By the end of the 70’s, Dr. Marten boots were the symbol of self discovery and changed into a subculture essential.

Dr Martens 8 eyelet Black Serpent Boots.

Further into the years, smaller sizes for men’s boots were becoming a street trend for women who bought, then customized them. This led to a rise in sales for smaller men sizes and the creation of different patterns, colors, and designs of the shoes. Afterward, American rock musicians began to take pairs of Dr. Martens back to the West Coast whenever they toured in the UK. Thus starting America’s subculture adaptation of the brand. In the beginning of 2020, the brand celebrated its 60th anniversary with six decades of witnessing the brand’s adoption by diverse groups, musicians, and free-thinking individuals; each embracing the shoes and customizing it to fit their own personal attitude and identity.

A Dr. Marten store in Cologne, Germany.

Dr Martens are not just a shoe to wear, but a shoe to express one’s self and individualism. By January of 2021, the brand successfully completed their IPO on The London Stock Exchange which created a big milestone for Dr. Martens history. From an invention from a soldier, to a world wide fashion statement, Dr. Martens have had an interesting journey throughout the years and with no doubt, will continue to expand in many more years to come.

Work Cited:

  • Gilman, Chaela. “The controversial history of Dr. Martens | El Leñador Bilingual Newspaper.” El Lenador, 15 December 2022, Accessed 14 February 2024.
  • “Our brand.” Dr. Martens plc, Accessed 14 February 2024.
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About the Contributor
Sophia Montanez
Sophia Montanez, Staff Reporter
Hello, my name is Sophia Montanez and I am currently a sophomore at Elmwood Park High School. I play on the Elmwood Park tennis team and I like relaxing in my free time. I plan to go to college in the future but I haven’t decided on a major quite yet.
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