From punk to popular! Celebrities and models step out in Dr Martens

From punk to popular! Sales of Dr Martens soar as stars step out in the staple of the ’70s skinhead scene – thanks to fashion nostalgia prompted by lockdown

  • Stars including Diane Kruger and Gigi Hadid have been spotted wearing brand
  • Boots were popular in the nineties but have made a comeback during 2020
  • Stylist said many fashionistas are looking to the label with fond nostalgia 
  • Rochelle White said: ‘It is a way to relive or bring memories of the past’
  • Comes as Dr Martens confirmed plans to float on London Stock Exchange 

The trendy punk Dr Martens boots that were the the height of fashion for punk rockers in the eighties and nineties have made a comeback amid the Covid-19 crisis.

Some of Hollywood’s brightest stars, including Diane Kruger, Gigi Hadid, Dakota Johnson, have been spotted stomping the streets in the shoes, which were once a staple of the 1970’s punk and skinhead scene.

Stylist Rochelle White told FEMAIL the resurgence in popularity for Dr Martens was down to fashion lovers seeking nostalgia during the coronavirus pandemic, saying: ‘It is a way to relive or bring memories of the past and give their old looks a refresh.’ 

It comes as the brand confirmed plans to float on the main market of the London Stock Exchange, with an initial public offering expected by the start of February. 

Celebrities including Diana Kruger have been spotted wearing Dr Martens boots in recent weeks as the brand proves the show of choice for starlets amid the Covid-19 crisis

Many A-listers and models, including Ashley Roberts and Josephine Skriver have adopted the punk rocker style boots into their wardrobe (left, and right) 

Rochelle explained: ‘Dr Martens have seen a rise in popularity since the 90s. I think that so many celebs, models and influencers have been rocking the trend with leggings, floral dresses, tailoring and more.

‘It has created an inspirational look that people want to recreate. It was seen on the catwalks back in 2019 and was giving a new lease of life.’

The stylist said the brand had been boosted in popularity of the brand because many fashion lovers are seeking a ‘casual, luxury look’, adding: ‘I think with the lockdowns of 2020 and part 3 in 2021, the casual, luxury/luxe look was a big thing for people working from home.

‘Even after lockdown ease, many still opted for that relaxed casual looks and the Dr Marten was the go too.’

Kourtney Kardashian stepped out in the boots alongside TikTok star Addison Rae during the Covid-19 pandemic 

How was Dr Martens founded? 

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 recovered 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.

The shoes became popular amidst punk rockers and musicians during the eighties and nineties (pictured, the band Madness wearing the boots) 

Märtens did not have much success selling his shoes until he met up with an old university friend, Herbert Funck, a Luxembourger, in Munich in 1947. 

Funck was intrigued by the new shoe design, and the two went into business that year in Seeshaupt, Germany, using discarded rubber from Luftwaffe airfields.

 The comfortable soles were a big hit with housewives, with 80% of sales in the first decade to women over the age of 40.

Sales had grown so much by 1952 that they opened a factory in Munich. 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 rights to manufacture the shoes in the United Kingdom.

The boots have a trademark yellow stitching which was added by the British shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group

Griggs anglicised the name to ‘Dr. Martens’, slightly re-shaped the heel to make them fit better, added the trademark yellow stitching, and trademarked the soles as AirWair. 

By the later 1960s, skinheads started to wear them, ‘Docs’ or ‘DMs’ being the usual naming, and by the late 1970s, they were popular among punks, musicians and members of other youths. 

The boots and shoes became increasingly popular in the 1990s as grunge fashion arose. 

In 2003 the Dr. Martens company came close to bankruptcy. On 1 April that year, under pressure from declining sales, the company ceased making shoes in the United Kingdom, and moved all production to China and Thailand. Five factories and two shops were closed in the UK, and more than 1,000 of the firm’s employees lost their jobs.

Following the closures, the R. Griggs company employed only 20 people in the UK, all in the firm’s head office.

Five million pairs of Dr. Martens were sold during 2003, which was half the 1990s level of sales.

In 2004 a new range of Dr. Martens was launched in an attempt to appeal to a wider market, and especially young people. 

The shoes and boots were intended to be more comfortable, and easier to break in, and included some new design elements. 

Worldwide sales of Dr. Martens shoes grew strongly in the early 2010s, and in 2012 it was the eighth-fastest-growing British company.

In 2018 ten million pairs of Dr. Martens shoes were produced, only one percent in the UK and in 2019, Dr. Martens announced plans to double the production of shoes and boots in the UK, to 165,000 pairs annually in 2020.

She continued: ‘The most popular Dr Marten style is their famous 1460 Smooth Leather Ankle Boot, which I think many 90s nostalgic fashion lovers have gone for.’

‘Some of their other popular styles are seen on the younger generation Sinclair platform and 1461 Smooth Leather shoe. 

‘Some of the young TikTok creators have been rocking the DR Martens look in videos, which I think have had an impact on the rise in popularity.’   

Stars including Frozen actress Kristen Bell and Diane Kruger have been spotted in the classic black boot over the last few weeks. 

Frozen star Kristen Bell has long been a fan of the punk rocker style boots, she is pictured here in 2019 donning the shoes 

Meanwhile, 50 Shades of Grey actress Dakota Johnson has long been a fan of the brand, and recently stepped out in a pair of the label’s black brogue shoe.

In the last few weeks, supermodel Gigi Hadid has showcased her collection of the boots, donning a brown pair and a bright yellow pair in New York.  

Proving the shoe has universal popularity with men as well as women, artist Machine Gun Kelley was recently snapped wearing a white pair of the combat boots.   

Earlier today, Dr Martens, which sold its first book in the UK nearly 61 years ago, announced plans to list between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the company and expects that it would be eligible for inclusion in the FTSE UK indices.    

Supermodel Gigi Hadid has proved the versatility of the brand in recent weeks as she was snapped out and about in New York wearing a vibrant yellow pair (left) as well as a more muted brown pair (right) 

Meanwhile other stars to step out in the shoe include Machine Gun Kelly, who wore a white pair of the combat boots in December 

Its current private equity owner, Permira, which bought the brand for £300million in 2013, will be selling off some of its shares in the IPO. The business is expected to be valued at close to £1billion. 

Its chunky footwear has undergone a revival following a dark period in the early 2000s when Dr Martens came close to bankruptcy, and it shut down all bar one of its British factories. 

In the six months to the end of September 2020, revenues jumped 18 per cent to £318.2million.

In its last financial year to the end of March, the company’s revenue reached £672million, while earnings hit £184million.   

50 Shades of Grey actress Dakota Johnson has long been a fan of the brand, recently stepping out in a pair of brogue style shoes from the label 

Chief executive Kenny Wilson said last week that the float reflects what the Dr Martens team has achieved in recent years.

‘Our iconic brand appeals to a diverse range of consumers around the world who wear our footwear to express their individual style,’ he said.

‘We have invested massively to ensure that we deliver the best digital and store experiences to connect with our wearers, and through this we are driving our long-term, sustainable growth.’ 

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