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Dr Martens | Boots To Your Sole

Updated on November 12, 2010
Dr Martens sporting the Union Jack.
Dr Martens sporting the Union Jack.

For fifty years, Dr Martens (or Doc Martins, as we used to call them in our younger, more frivolous days when the world seemed brighter and the twins specters of cellulite and taxes seemed to be mere fairy tales) have been dominating the hard wearing shoe / boot market.

At one time, if you didn't have Dr Marten boots, you weren't really a person. Sure, you were a carbon based humanoid, but until you slipped those boots on you were barely alive.

Dr Martens have managed to do what so many companies would like to do, but don't know how. They've managed to appeal to every sector of the market without becoming generic and boring. That's a skill, my foot friends, a valuable skill. A pair of Dr Marten boots can be worn everywhere from high octane race meetings, to rock shows, to a friendly village maypole dance - in a war zone.

What's the secret to their success? Surely it must be the fact that they were designed by a German army medic named Klaus Märtens. (You already begin to see where the 'Dr Marten's moniker came from, although the name was clearly anglicized in order to avoid the need to mention the war. We must not mention the war, if at all possible.)

Klaus had hurt his ankle skiing, and needed an air cushioned boot that would allow him to continue his duties in comfort, so he created the design for Dr Martens and went on ministering to the ill.

Dr Martens would probably have faded into oblivion had it not been for Peter Townshend, guitarist for The Who, deciding that other footwear available on the market was far too prissy for his liking. He started wearing the air cushioned boots on stage and the rest is history, Dr Martens are now available in more styles and colors than the good Dr Martens could probably ever have imagined, in spite of a brush with extremely negative publicity in the 1980's, when skinheads and other violent types decided that Dr Martens were the best footwear for people who hated everything and everyone. Ironically, Dr Martens were also the footwear of choice for the policemen who chased them down and put them in headlocks, so eventually the reputation of the boots became fairly neutral, yet entirely epic.

Their continuing popularity in a world where so much as looking at a policeman will get you arrested can be credited to two facts, one, they look 'hard', and at the same time, fashionable. Two, they are incredibly comfortable, so that one feels as if one is walking on air whilst one caterwauls filthy lyrics into the night air or gets into a kicking competition with a concrete wall.

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