This month, Dr. Martens celebrates 57 years of self-expression.
Since the Classic 1460 boot first hit the market, the brand has become an enduring symbol of rebellion and individuality.
A young German soldier, Dr. Klaus Maertens, creates the first air-cushioned sole to aid recovery of his broken foot. Mechanical engineer, Dr. Herbert Funk, is intrigued by the idea and the two go into business.
A decade of booming sales, mostly selling shoes to older women, leads Maertens and Funk to advertise their revolutionary design in international magazines.
English manufacturers, R Griggs and Co, acquire an exclusive license for the air-cushioned sole. They alter the heel and solepattern, and add a yellow heel loop and welt stitch. Taking its name from the date (April 1,1960), the first Eight-Eye 1460 boot is born.
After being sold as a £2 workman’s boot, Dr. Martens becomes popular with skinheads. They paint their cherry red Classics with black shoe polish to give them a worn-in look.
Pete Townshend of The Who is spotted in Docs. They become a widespread symbol of rebellion and self-expression.
Dr. Martens are available on a national scale in the UK and the black 1460 becomes a constant in the punk wardrobe. The shoe is embraced by the Two Tone, glam, mod and early goth movements.
Docs become popular with women, who paint them with floral motifs.
Dr. Martens goes global after demand grows in the US, where Docs have been seen on several hardcore bands.
Grunge goes mainstream and Docs get a whole new reputation as a festival shoe. Sported by the Foo Fighters and Red Hot Chili Peppers, global sales hit a record high.
High-heeled Docs enter the market.
No Doubt’s Tragic Kingdom album is released. On the cover, Gwen Stefani rocks a pair of cherry red Docs.
The new millennium sees a decline in Dr. Martens’ sales.
All but one of its UK factories are closed to prevent bankruptcy.
Dr. Martens team up with Yohji Yamamoto. Their first collection sees zips added to the boots, so lazy people can wear them too.
Sales pick up. Dr. Martens collaborates with Raf Simons and Jean Paul Gaultier. The original Cobbs Lane factory begins producing handmade Classics once again. Media reports state that Pope John Paul II requests 100 pairs of custom white Docs.
Agyness Deyn collaborates with Dr. Martens. The model goes on to release four collections with the brand in two years.
A sledgehammer-licking Miley Cyrus sports cherry red Classics in her video for ‘Wrecking Ball’. It goes on to be one of the most-watched videos on YouTube with over 800 million views.
Dr. Martens celebrates 57 years young.
For your chance to win a pair of Original 1461 Dr. Martens shoes, click here. We've got three pairs to give away.
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This feature was originally published in Fashion Journal 167. You can read it here.