Few British brands today have shaped the evolution of an era like Dr Martens. The brand has more than just a footprint in fashion history; it was also instrumental in creating various British subcultures from the mainstream to the niche. For example, no other brand represents the British working class as Dr Martens does. The brand has been in the footwear industry for over seven decades and has become synonymous with rebellion, alternative music, and youth. However, who is Dr Martens, and how did the brand evolve into today’s trendsetter? Read this Dr Martens history to answer your questions about this revolutionary brand.
Dr Martens History – The Beginning
Dr Martens have made a notable mark in British culture. This is because their boots are part of British fashion. However, Dr Martens originally came from Germany and not England. However, Dr Martens transformed from the regular work boot into a fashion icon in Britain. However, it is essential to start at the beginning to understand this growth, which is what we’ll be doing in this section.
The founder of Dr Martens is Dr. Klaus Maertens. He is a German soldier who sustained an injury during a skiing accident. He grew tired of the standard WWII army boot and started looking for foot-based comfort. When he couldn’t find it, he decided to create his shoe and sold the patent to the Griggs company in 1959. A year later, on April 1st, Dr Martens hit the high street. It featured yellow stitching and a trademarked tag.
Although the company launched this footwear on April Fool’s Day, it wasn’t a joke in any way. On the contrary, it represented the end of footwear as people knew it. Most people believe that the evolution of boots was a surprise to Dr Maertens, who only created the shoe for functionality rather than fashion. However, by the late 1970s, Dr Martens history shows that the brand was now standard police footwear in the UK. It featured oil-resistant soles that made them ideal for handling traffic accidents.
Additionally, Dr Martens became popular amongst factory workers and builders because of their sturdy nature. Soon, people didn’t just choose Dr Martens for its functionality. Hippies, punks, and almost everyone in Britain soon owned a pair of Dr Martens. Below is a breakdown of Dr Martens history by different eras.
The Mod Era
In the 1950s, the mod movement stuck with clean-cut fashion like Italian mohair suits, polo shirts, and similar items. These were the people who rode Vespas, hung out in cafes, and listened to top bands like ‘The Who.’ Therefore when the band’s lead guitarist Pete Townshend began to wear Dr Martens, the mod generation soon owned a pair.
Goths and Punk
This movement began with Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren. The punk era featured a provocative, exciting, and radical style. This era encouraged generations to put safety pins through their ears, slash their clothes, and cut their hair in strange styles. It was from punk that the darker alternative Goth emerged. They also appreciated the footwear brand, as shown through Dr Martens history. However, this era only preferred Dr Martens boots in dark colors.
The Grunge Era
This movement combined metal with hardcore. This movement started in Seattle in the mid-1980. However, with the emergence of bands like Pearl Jam, Alice in Chains, and Nirvana, the movement made its way to the UK. Brands like Marc Jacobs sent models down the runways wearing Dr Martens boots and flannel shirts in the UK.
The BritPop Era
Dr Martens history won’t be complete without a mention of Britpop history. Britpop was a mix of indie-pop, sixties music, and punk. However, these influences weren’t just in the music category but also in attitude and style. Bands like Blur and Oasis wore fishtail jackets in a backward nod to the mods. Meanwhile, Pulp took its cue from the androgynous goth approach. Although the styles vary in this Britpop ear, the choice of footwear remained Dr Martens.
Dr Martens History – From Work to Fashion
You’re probably wondering how it transformed from a work boot to a fashion piece at what point in Dr Martens history. After its emergence in Britain, Dr Martens remained the working man’s boot, mainly worn by factory workers and mail carriers. However, the Mod era started the move to becoming a fashion staple. Townshend was tired of the fashionable fashion pieces available during this time and no longer wanted to dress like a Christmas tree. According to him, these clothes stood in the way of his music, and he decided utility wear was a better option. According to Pete Townshend, the air-cushioned soles of Dr Martens allowed him to bounce naturally on the stage. It also helped to connect him to his working-class root.
Therefore, Townshend is the face of the fashion revolution of Dr Martens in the 60s. He was also quite useful when creating the defining image of 1970s pop culture. The rock opera tagged ‘Tommy’ featured Elton John on the stage wearing a pair of DM boots. Today, these bodes celebrate British brands in the Northampton Museum. As the brand rose to fame, it soon looked like they were everywhere. They even featured in the House of Commons, where a photo caught Tony Benn wearing a pair of DM in Parliament.
The enduring nature of the brand is owed to its outreach, excellent image, and marketing. With these tools, any company can stand the test of time. Although the fashion world continued to evolve, DM boots were still worn by the older and younger generations. Today, celebrities like Miley Cyrus and Agyness Deyn wear Dr Martens. Despite being over five decades old, their appeal remained strong. The brand is unshakable and undeniably cool at all times.
Is Dr Martens the King of British Footwear Brands
Throughout Dr Martens history, this footwear brand has enjoyed higher levels of popularity in Britain. Its image of fashion individuality endured many subcultures and trends over the decades. Dr Martens found a new way to be loved with every new era. An example is the announcement of the brand’s ‘Adventure Time’ collection, which left fans jumping for joy. People love Dr Martens collections because it provides them with new ways to express their interests and passions. Dr Martens made the news when it featured in Miley Cyrus’s wrecking ball video, where she wore nothing but a pair of cherry red Dr Martens.
We’ve also seen imitations of DM in stores globally. Companies and manufacturers are also trying hard to take advantage of this British brand. However, these replicas are not built to last and do not compare in quality to the original Dr Martens. They also lack the creativity and style recognizable in the original DM. Most people can’t imagine that a boot born in war could become one of the most fashionable and coveted boots. However, the brand’s ability to adapt and embrace change makes it arguably the best footwear brand in Britain.
Another reason why this brand is so appealing is because of its versatility. They cater to an unlimited audience. Therefore, whether you’re looking for something functional, refined, or trying to embrace your inner punk, there’s always a Dr Martens for you.
Dr Martens History – How the Brand Achieves Branding
Dr Martens doesn’t have complete control over its branding. However, the truth in marketing is that no matter how much you invest in branding and marketing, there are high chances things could go wrong. However, the key to branding is adapting and adjusting to new trends and eras. Dr Martens history wasn’t always smooth; the brand had issues with potential bankruptcy and racist connotations. However, Dr Martens continually took their brand in a bold, confident, and primarily British direction. It aimed to become more than just a work boot and fully a fashion item.
To achieve this, DM tapped into the loyalty of its customers and created a campaign. This campaign’s goal was to effectively celebrate the brand’s heritage while also challenging perceptions by encouraging the main feature of DM brand value: self-expression. This campaign was called the ‘First and Forever’ campaign. It asked customers and fans worldwide to share memories attached to their first pair of Dr Martens.
There was a digital engagement platform designed for this campaign. Users could easily upload their experience on the platform. Responses were up to 10 million, and the campaign received the visual design award at the DADI Award Ceremony. The company based its creative branding around the fact that everyone remembered their first experience with Dr Martens. This allowed the brand to connect with its audience and deepen its relationship with its consumers.
The brand’s marketing and branding solutions helped shape Dr Martens history as it retained its creativity over the years. They engaged new customers in various ways, like email newsletters, suggested products based on history, and many more. As the fashion industry and marketing evolved, Dr Martens evolved with them to remain relevant.
The Stand-For-Something Campaign
The brand also introduced the #StandForSomething campaign that effectively brought the brand into the modern age. This marketing strategy ensured the brand appealed to a broad target audience. It was a campaign all about its customers, and it defined its ideal customer as free-thinking and rebellious. This was a pattern that was constantly true throughout the years.
In 2014, the brand revamped the campaign and used films to target various characters. The goal was to show the versatility of the brand’s audience. From the old to the young, Dr Martens knew they had a connection with everything British. They also used their growing online community to enhance results in their 2013 campaign. The Stand for Something tour takes place each year all over the goal. The goal is to unite the brand with customers who share their musical passion.
Although there are many British brands in the fashion industry today, few whose names stand out in the crowd. Over the decades of Dr Martens history, the brand has continually adjusted its unique style while staying true to its British spirit. The simple and classic nature of the brand allows its consumers to create an image that suits their style using the brand. Dr Martens shoes are also quite comfortable and durable, perfect for street fashion, every day, and work wear.