According to a website called Boots99.com—that is solely dedicated to boots, and really has an obvious biding passion for Doc Marten boots, which are perhaps the best-known and longest-standing brand of men’s boots (and now women’s boots, designer shoes, sandals, formal shoes, you name it)—they offer a pretty in-depth history on the origination of these fancy fire-stompers. I find that sometimes citing the pros is the best way to offer a great definition as to why these designer boots have become a fashion staple and mainstay in American society over the past 5-6 decades, or so; and have actually been used, and very popular, ever since they were first devised by a German doctor named Klaus Maertens at the end of the Second World War, in 1945.
According to Boots99.com, the history of these boots—which I ever so lovingly adore wearing daily—is rather rich, indeed. To better apprise you, sometimes you find a story that is so on-point and factual that you could not tell it better on your own. While this is an ever so rare occurrence for me, today I was delighted to read about the history of Doc Martens Boots and the infamous AirWair branding that has emanated from their popularity amongst consumers. This brand really has become an iconic popular culture fashion superlative over the past forty some-odd years, or so.
According to Boots99.com and Wikipedia, the rich and invigorating history of these boots is as follows; and after some fact-checking on the Doc Marten website, indeed this is the real, factual accounting of it.
“Klaus Maertens was a doctor in the German army during World War II. While on leave in 1945, he injured his ankle while skiing in the Bavarian Alps. He found that the standard issue army boots were too uncomfortable on the injured foot. While recuperating he designed improvements to the boots. He designed a shoe that was made of soft leather, and softer, air-padded soles. When the war ended and the Germans commenced panicked looting of valuables from their cities, Dr. Maertens took something truly valuable: leather from a cobbler’s shop. He made himself a pair of boots with the now-famous air-cushioned soles.
He didn’t have much luck selling his shoes until he met up with an old university friend, Dr. Herbert Funck, in Munich in 1947. Funck was intrigued by the new shoe design, and the two went into business that year in Seeshaupt, Germany, using some discarded rubber from Luftwaffe airfields. The comfortable and durable soles were a big hit – with housewives; 80% of their sales during the first decade were to women over 40.
Sales had grown so much by 1952 that they opened a factory in Munich. In 1959, the company had grown large enough that Drs. Maertens and Funck started looking to market internationally. Almost immediately, British shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group Ltd. bought patent rights in order to manufacture the shoes in the UK. Griggs anglicised the name, slightly re-shaped the heel to make them fit better, added the trademark yellow stitching, and trademarked the soles AirWair.”
One final note here: I need to get my hands on another pair!