The doctor will see you now…
There be nout more British than a few quaint.
Teenage pregnancies, cheap cider and our Monarch's Union Jack draped undies. There stands those few that staple 'this is what us British produce' onto our tweed & quilted hearts. Granted we have to give the Germans credit for their part in the history of 'Docs'. Nevertheless, our punk anarchists pushed these icons into the mainstream far further than any German anarchist ever dared (and admittedly – they had some nasty ones!)
To illustrate the adornment of the Dr Martens (or rather the Dr Maertens as they were originally known) I will use the device of culture… and violence.
The iconic print of the Hippie placing his flower in barrel of an armed gun is the embodiment of the 'flower power culture'. Now, if at that point in time I was fashioning Doc M's, the boots culture would have required me to remove said flower and chase him with it somewhat violently. Don't look at me disapprovingly!
Photographic brilliance Gavin Watson describes the boots appearance as:
“Basically a statement to like f*ck you to the hippies. You aint gonna wear boots, you aint gonna shave your head, you're not gonna wear working jeans tight are you? So that's what we're gonna do because we're not middle class. We're not hippies!”
On the 1st April 2010 Dr Martens celebrated their 50th production anniversary. Half a century of the original eight-eyelet rebellious boot and it is for this reason we celebrate today. Celebrating half a century of a boot that has offered all that skinheads and sub-cultures would have told you to 'eff off for. Culture, class and contribution.
These icons of British fashion heritage were born out of a mistake. Take them as the leaning tower of Pisa or Paris Hilton of the footwear world if you will. Klaus M?rtens was on leave from the Second World War where he was posted as a doctor. Realistically there was not a lot to do when on leave other than to return home to your 'pin up' girl as you fallaciously called her. And if she was going to be in your ear from the moment you walk through the door; you'd rather not. So for that reason or roundabouts, he ended up skiing in the Bavarian Alps.
Like any true gentleman; as he lay there in pain after a horrific fall, injured ankle, spectators in guffaw, he did what any of us would have. Blamed his shoe. While recovering in the hospital, (which clearly the shoe put him in) he developed the basic design of the standard issue army boot. Substitutions were made to accommodate soft leather and air padded soles were added (Nikey got nothing on Klaus).
There is a long linear journey that leads to DM's becoming the original eight-eyelet rebellious boot. Their linear involves looting and the Luftwaffe, all in half a century. On the 1st of April 1960, style 1460 (1.4.60) was released into the drab streets of Great Britain. Fashioned by men. And I mean men. The worker sort. You would check a policeman's feet for Dr Martens before thinking “yep, I'll choose a different officer to p*ss off”.
The cherry red design and other manufactured colours were picked up by the skinhead culture by the late 60's. Further forward another 10 years and even the punk rock culture in all their abandonment of society and rules couldn't resist fashioning the Docs.
Don Letts, Film director & DJ recognises today that:
“the punks picked up on the rebellious aspect and attitude of the boot if you will, to kind of say, actually we're rebelling against everything! We're rewriting the rules and this is a cultural ground zero and the only thing that we're taking with us is the Dr Martens boot.”
At the other end of the catwalk, 50 years on and the only skinheads apparent stand in result of male pattern baldness. 50 Years still but Dr Docs everywhere aren't shying away from marking the occasion. They have recruited contemporary bands and film directors to help them mark the occasion. The result is a collaboration of videos from individuals who have trended these fashionable footwear fancies. Not to mention a sneaky encounter with a Carol Voderman style play on numbers in their flagship store earlier this week.
Two from the front and three from the back please Carol…
First boot of the production line – 1.4.60 (1460 style)
50th Anniversary (1.4.10) – 1460 pairs of limited edition 'made in England' boots released and sold for ?14.60 in flagship Covent Garden.
For AW10 you are going to see Martens – but not as you know them. The airwair sole creators are rightly proud of their heritage, connotations, contributions and class, and so are we.
People often confuse Dr Martens with just big boots with the chunky sole. However it couldn't be further from the truth as they have expanded their collection massively to produce a wide variety of on trend styles. Look for chelsea boots, chukka boots and even canvas/leather plimsols this season from the legendary shoe makers.
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