The Dr Martens brand
heritage and deep
association with youth
culture lies at the core of
its appeal. An association
that comes, not from
advertising or marketing,
but from a genuine
connection with young
people who have adopted
the boot, and the brand, as
their own for generations.
As the progeny of two German families –
Funck and Maertens – the brand was
originally developed to alleviate the
discomfort experienced after a skiing
accident. Together with an English shoe
family, Griggs, they created the
recognisable bulbous shape with
distinctive yellow stitching and grooved
sole that still defines the brand today.
On April 1st 1960 the very first Dr Martens
boot rolled off the production line at the
Griggs factory in Northamptonshire;
taking its name from the date of its
inception, the classic eight-hole, 1460
(with air-cushioned sole) was born.
Designed to be durable, functional and
tough it was soon adopted by British
workers, from the docks to the postal
service to the police, quickly becoming a
mainstay of the British working classes.
The 1960s proved to be a decade of
new ideas, cultural upheaval, flamboyant
fashion, and ultimately, social revolution.
Against this backdrop – and perhaps
surprisingly given its functional nature –
the brand found itself resonating with
the upsurge in youth culture. It was
through the fragmentation of ‘mods’
in the early 1960s that the boot was
first adopted by youth groups, spawning
a subculture that became synonymous
with DM’s: skinheads.
Proud of their working class roots, and
repulsed by the rise of flowerpower and
free-love, skinheads celebrated the
everyday work-wear of the proletariat.
Shorn hair and heavy boots became
their defining characteristics but it took a
strange quirk of fate – the addition of
steel toecaps – for their allegiance to
switch to Dr Martens. Now classed as
‘offensive weapons’ the brand’s
Whilst skinheads valued Dr Martens
for their utilitarian design, anti-fashion
statement and comfort, the attention they
paid to t