Doc Martens boots are simply iconic. These relatively sturdy and simple-looking leather boots have transcended fashion lines, becoming a staple footwear for people from all walks of life.
They are worn almost by everyone from students, workmen, supermodels, and rock stars alike. Never have you seen a more versatile shoe that have appealed to that many people.
Though the shoe- which was invented way back in the 1940s by the German doctor Klaus Märtens- remains popular up until the present time, the 1980s is widely considered to be the period where it reached its fashion peak.
So why did Doc Martens boots became so in-demand and sought-after during the 1980s? In order to understand their immense popularity during this time, it’s best to know their history in the decades that preceded their heyday.
History Of Doc Martens Boots
Dr. Klaus Märtens was a German army doctor during World War II. Once during a skiing accident, he severely injured his ankle making it hard for him to walk properly. His standard-issue army boots didn’t help too much with his injury because they were much too uncomfortable and didnt’ provide support to his injured ankle.
While recuperating from his injury, he made improvements and changes to his boots to make them more comfortable on his feet. When the war ended, he took some leather from a cobbler’s shop, and then fashioned his own pair while incorporating his own changes to the army-style boots that he used to wear.
With the help of an old university friend, Martens marketed the boots in his country. It proved to be a hit, especially with housewives. In time, Doc Martens boots’ popularity spread to neighboring countries, including most notably the United Kingdom.
80s Doc Martens Boots
When it comes to Doc Martens boots, the 1980s was really when they hit their heyday in fashion. Initially a fashion meant for the working class, with the rise of the punk rock scene in the 80s, Doc Martens became a trend that became synonymous with that movement.
Doc Martens boots exemplifies function over fashion. Most notably, he used soft leather for the boots and added air-padded soles made from tyres; these comfortable soles as well as the boots’ distinctive yellow stitching basically became trademarks of the brand. The boots were made first and foremost with comfort in mind (due to Dr. Martens’ own troubles with his ankle) and then sturdiness (since they were originally army boots that were specifically designed to last after all).
The black leather boots matched the denim and leather trend of the rock scene, and since they were also very sturdy and comfortable, it’s not surprising that Doc Martens became a punk fashion staple.
However Doc Martens weren’t always an 80s fashion. In fact in the UK, the boots became popular amongst postmen, factory workers, and other folks who were working blue-collar jobs in the 1960s. Doc Martens boots were very cheap- they were known as “a £2 work-wear boot” and became a staple among Britain’s working classes.
As it happened, the boots’ popularity among the working class coincided with the various cultural changes that happened in Britain during the 60s, 70s, and 80s. Fashion is how various cliques and groups of people identified themselves, and the boots- with their working class roots- became part of that language. However as time went on, the boots became more of a fashion choice rather than one just for work.
Doc Martens was a symbol for rebellion and anti-establishment ideas- as such, they were very popular among skinheads, punks, and rockers. By the late 70s and early 80s, other cliques like those in the glam punk and goth scenes also appropriated the boots for their own fashion. The shoes were a staple of 80s punk fashion and continues to be popular in the punk scene today.
Musicians and bands like the Sex Pistols, Pearl Jam, and Alice in Chains further pushed the popularity of the boots to the mainstream.
Are Doc Martens Still Popular?
Doc Martens hit its peak popularity in the 80s, but the fashion can still be found today, especially in the punk rock scene. It’s just one of those timeless fashions that look great and one that people still appreciate.
Fashions that withstand the test of time typically are the ones that not only look great, but also have functional qualities as well. And Doc Martens boots fits both of those qualities nicely.
Fashions, fads, and musical tastes have all seen drastic changes over the decades, but still Doc Martens boots seem like they here to stay.