Just What the Doctor Ordered: A Brief History of Doc Martens

Who loves Doc Martens? We do! They add just the right amount of edge to just about any outfit. But what do you actually know about them? Like so many fashion companies, Dr. Martens has a pretty interesting history, so we’re about to spit some knowledge.

In the Beginning

Our story begins in 1901 in the small town of Wollaston in North Northamptonshire, England, where the Griggs family had a reputation for making durable work boots.

Fast-forward to 1945 in post-war Munich, where Dr. Klaus Martens created an innovative air-cushioned sole for his own foot injury, finding it much more comfortable than a traditional leather sole. This new sole became the inspiration for a prototype that he shared with Dr. Herbert Funk, an old university friend and mechanical engineer. The two went into business together, and in 1947, they began producing shoes made from disused military supplies. They quickly gained a following, appealing mainly to older women. By the late 1950s, they decided it was time to go big.

The Brand Is Born

Here is where the story comes together. In 1960, Bill Griggs, the third generation of the Griggs family boot business, spotted an advertisement for Martens and Funk’s air-cushioned soles. He obtained an exclusive license to the sole, made a few tweaks, altered the heel, added some yellow stitching and a unique sole pattern, and the Dr. Martens boot was born.

In the early 1960s, Dr. Martens were worn mostly by postmen and factory workers, but once Pete Townshend of The Who started pairing them with a rebellious attitude, the shoes quickly became a subculture must-have. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, the boots continued to be a staple among a number of groups, but when grunge became the look of the 1990s, Dr. Martens’ popularity soared.

In the early 2000s, the brand hit a major decline, even causing some branches to go bankrupt; but just as fashion trends do, Dr. Martens are now once again the “it” shoe. We’re seeing them all over the place. And you know what? We aren’t sad about this.

Our Picks

Now that we know the history of Docs, let’s talk about the future of your wardrobe and which pairs we recommend you add to your cart!

The white polished, lightly textured Jadon Smooth Leather Platform Boots ($180, shop here) are a fun spin on the classic Dr. Martens. The platform sole (with the brand’s signature air-cushioned technology) gives them that extra edge factor.

There are a ton of ways to style these boots, but we love the idea of channeling the ’90s and pairing them with a houndstooth miniskirt, a classic white tee, and a destructed denim jacket (complete with some serious flair, of course).

Next, we present the Adrian Smooth Leather Tassel Loafers ($130, shop here), which first hit the scene in 1980. While these loafers don’t have the brand’s famous yellow stitching, rest assured that they still have that high-quality stitch for which Docs are known. They also feature Goodyear welting, which is just a fancy way to say that they are super-durable and water-resistant.

As for styling these loafers, we love the idea of pairing them with black skinny pants and a black boatneck sweater. Then, add some color to the look with bright, bold socks.

Lastly, we have the Voss Fluffy Faux Platform Sandals ($120, shop here). Dr. Martens have always been a symbol of non-conformity, and this style represents that in the best possible way with a lightweight platform, heart-shaped buckles, and classic yellow stitching.

As for styling these beauties, let them stay the center of attention and pair them with light-wash jeans, a classic white tee, and some gold jewelry.

Sources: Dr. Martens / Grailed / The New European

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