Doc Martens

Back in the Spring, I met up with a friend of mine and his wife, who were out buying shoes for their daughter. She’s a strict vegetarian (the daughter) and will only wear shoes not made from animals. On this particular day they were shopping at Doc Martens in Union Square. Doc Martens sells boots that they call “vegan” – made with all-synthetic materials. (So all those times I bought cheap shoes on Orchard Street, they were actually vegan!)

While she was trying on boots, my friend and I reminisced about the days when we wore the non-vegan version of these same boots. I found myself looking around the store and I noticed that he and I were the only two men in the place. Every other person in the store, at least ten, was female. Somewhere over the years, Doc Martens went from being a worker’s boot worn by punks and posers to being a hip girls shoe. It probably happened somewhere around the time Doc Martens opened its own store, and was no longer sold only in the basement of Trash and Vaudeville.

doc-martens-girls-shoes
Inside Dr. Martens; November 29, 2013

***

Here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know. Most people think Doc Martens is an English shoe company, but the fact is that it’s German. And not just German, but Nazi German.

Oh yeah.

At least originally. From the always-reliable Wikipedia:

    Klaus Märtens 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 his standard-issue army boots were too uncomfortable on his injured foot. While recuperating, he designed improvements to the boots, with soft leather and air-padded soles made of tyres. When the war ended and some Germans looted valuables from their own cities, Märtens took leather from a cobbler’s shop. With that leather he made himself a pair of boots with air-cushioned soles.

    […]

    In 1959, the company had grown large enough that Märtens and Funck looked at marketing the footwear internationally. Almost immediately, British shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group Ltd. bought patent rights to manufacture the shoes in the United Kingdom. Griggs anglicised the name, slightly re-shaped the heel to make them fit better, added the trademark yellow stitching, and trademarked the soles as AirWair.

It makes sense. A lot of punks had an unseemly fascination with Nazi iconography.

Sid Vicious Swastika
Sid Vicious

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