The Dr. Martens Boots and Its History

Dr. Martens boot is a shoe that is identified with various subcultures and times. Over the years we have seen them come and go, and today again become dressers shops that they have for sale in different colors and styles. But what is the story behind them?

Who is Dr. Martens?

Klaus Märtens was a German military doctor during World War II. In a period of recess that took in 1945, hurt is his ankle skiing in the Bavarian Alps. There was where he noticed that used at the time by the army boots were very uncomfortable, so while he was convalescing designed these improvements focusing to create a cushioned air made of rubber soles.

Martens did not have much success selling his shoes until he teamed up with an old friend of the University, Dr. Herbert Funck, originally from Luxembourg, in Munich in 1947. Both began to manufacture boots using waste rubber from the German air flotilla.

The comfortable soles had much success among housewives, achieving the vast majority of its sales among women over 40 years.


Sales grew and opened a factory in Munich in 1952. In 1959, the company had already grown to the point that Martens and Funck sought to sell them internationally

In England, the family Griggs of Northampton had dedicated manufacturing boots since 1901, whereas a successful, well established and respected family. One day Bill Griggs reviewing a magazine’s shoes and skin industry met with an announcement by Martens and Funck looking for partners.

Griggs contacted them, and bought them the rights to manufacture the shoes in the United Kingdom, adapted his name to the English, redesign the heel to make it even better, put the yellow stitching that characterizes them and patented the soles as AirWair.

The first Dr. Martens went on sale in the United Kingdom on April 1, 1960, with the style known as 1460, which is produced to date.

The original Dr. Martens is produced in the factory of Cobbs Lane, which is still active today. Other producers of footwear also got the license to manufacture them, provided they comply with the quality standards.

From the factory to the streets

These boots became popular among the working class went from postmen, official police to the workers of the factories. It was at the beginning of the 70s when the skinheads began to use them and by the end of the 80s were also popular with members of other subcultures.

A few years after they come to market, Pete Towshend used a black pair of the 1460 on the stage with his band The Who, clearly reflecting its sympathy for the pride of the working class, there followed all sorts of subcultures like the skins, punks, two tone, Oi!, hardcore, psychobilly, goth, industrial, grebo, grunge, Britpop and emo, among many others.

From the 90s and the new Millennium

In November 1994 a department store’s six-story Dr. Martens in Covent Garden in London, opened with items for sale such as belts, watches, food, as well as shoes.

It was in the 90s when this type of shoes was also associated with the culture and grunge style that predominated at that time.

From the year 2000, the Dr. Martens were sold only under the AirWair name, in a dozen different styles including conventional black shoes, sandals and boots with steel tip. Sales fell in this decade and in 2003 the Dr. Martens company almost falls into bankruptcy. On April 1 of that year, by the economic pressure which caused the decrease in sales, the company stopped producing shoes in the United Kingdom and sent all of its production to China and Thailand. Closed five factories and two stores in the United Kingdom, and more than a thousand employees lost their jobs. After the adjustments, only were 20 employees working in the United Kingdom in office jobs.

In 2004, the Dr. Martens were produced in the factory of Cobbs Lane in Wollaston, aimed at a market that look for the vintage line, since they are manufactured under the same specifications of the originals.