Dr. Martens also known as Doc Martens, Docs, or DMs,[2] is a footwear and clothing brand, headquartered in Wollaston, Northamptonshire. Although famous for its footwear, the company also makes a range of accessories including clothing and bags. The footwear is distinguished by its air-cushioned sole, upper shape, welted construction, and yellow stitching. The Dr Martens' design studio is in Camden Town, London, England. The company manufactures in the UK, China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand. The company is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.

Dr. Martens
Company typePublic limited company
Founded1947; 77 years ago (1947) in Seeshaupt, Germany (of the shoe sole patent)
FounderKlaus Märtens
Key people
Paul Mason (Chairman)
Kenny Wilson (CEO)
  • Boots
  • Bags
  • Clothing
  • Shoe care products
RevenueIncrease £1,000.3 million (2023)[1]
Decrease £176.2 million (2023)[1]
Decrease £128.9 million (2023)[1]




A pair of classic black leather Griggs' Dr. Martens boots, with distinctive yellow stitching around the sole

Klaus Märtens was a doctor in the German Army during World War II. After he injured his ankle, while skiing, in 1945,[3] 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.[4] When the war ended and Germans looted valuables from their own cities, Märtens purchased leather from a shoemaker's shop. With that leather he made himself a pair of boots with air-cushioned soles.[5]

In 1947 Märtens did not have much success selling his shoes until he met up with an old university friend Herbert Funck in Munich. Funck was intrigued by the new shoe design, and the two went into business that year in Seeshaupt, Germany, using discarded rubber shaped by moulds.[6] The comfortable soles were a big hit with housewives, with 80 percent of sales in the first decade to women over the age of 40.[7]

Expansion in the United Kingdom

Cherry Red and Black 14-hole Dr. Martens boots

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 bought patent rights to manufacture the shoes in the United Kingdom.[8] The R. Griggs Group anglicised the company name to Dr. Martens. The heel was reshaped for a better fit and the trademark yellow stitching was added. The sole was formally trademarked.[9]

The first Dr. Martens boot in the UK with an eight-eyelet cherry-red coloured smooth leather design became known as style 1460 and are still in production today. There are now many variations of this classic design which was introduced on 1 April 1960. The three-eyelet shoe was issued exactly one year later with the style number 1461. The Dr. Martens boots were made in their Cobbs Lane factory in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, where they continued to be made, in addition to production elsewhere, until at least 2018.[7][10]

In addition a number of shoe manufacturers in the Northamptonshire area and further afield produced the boots under licence, as long as they passed quality standards. The boots were popular among workers such as postmen, police officers and factory workers. 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 scooter riders, punks, some new wave musicians, and members of other youth subcultures.[11] The shoes' popularity among politically right-wing skinheads led to the brand gaining an association with violence.[11] Alexei Sayle sang the song "Dr. Martens' Boots" in a 1982 episode of the TV comedy The Young Ones.[12]

In 1989 the Accent Group became the first manufacturer of Dr. Martens outside the UK, obtaining the rights to make them in Dunedin, New Zealand, which they did for several years.[13] The boots and shoes became popular in the 1990s as grunge fashion arose. In late November 1994, a six-storey Dr. Martens department store was opened in Covent Garden in London which also sold food, belts, and watches. At this time the R. Griggs company employed 2,700 people, expected to earn annual revenue of £170 million, and could produce up to 10 million pairs of shoes per year.[14][15]



The Dr. Martens company sponsored Rushden & Diamonds F.C. from 1998 to 2005. Diamonds approached owner and local businessman Max Griggs to request sponsorship from his company. A new main stand was built at Nene Park in 2001, named the Airwair Stand. Dr. Martens were also the principal sponsors of Premier League club, West Ham United F.C., renaming the upgraded west stand 'The Dr Martens Stand'.[16]

Trademark disputes


In 1999 Dr. Martens fought lawsuits in US courts. The brand filed a number of lawsuits in 2016 based primarily on trademark law.[17]



In the 2000s Dr. Martens were sold exclusively under the AirWair name in dozens of different styles, including conventional black shoes, sandals and steel-toed boots. AirWair International Ltd revenue fell from $412 million in 1999 to $127 million in 2006.[18] In 2003 the Dr. Martens company came close to bankruptcy.[19] On 1 April that year, under pressure from declining sales, the company ceased making shoes in the UK,[20] 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.[21] Following the closures, the R. Griggs company employed only 20 people in the UK, all in the firm's head office.[22] Five million pairs of Dr. Martens were sold during 2003, half the 1990s level of sales.[23]

A Dr. Martens retail store in Hong Kong (2012)
Dr. Martens in Vaughan Mills

In 2004 a new range of Dr. Martens was launched in an attempt to appeal to a wider market, especially young people. The shoes and boots were intended to be more comfortable, and easier to break in, and included some new design elements.[23] Dr. Martens also began producing footwear again at the Cobbs Lane Factory in Wollaston, England in 2004 as part of the "Vintage" line, which the company advertises as being made to the original specifications.[24] Sales of these shoes are low in comparison to those made in Asia, however; in 2010, the factory was producing about 50 pairs per day.[7] In 2005, under turnaround CEO David Suddens the R. Griggs company was given an award by the "Institute for Turnaround" for implementing a successful restructure.[19]

In 2006 the 1460 Dr. Martens AirWair boot was named in the list of British design icons, alongside the Mini.[9]

Worldwide sales of Dr. Martens shoes grew strongly in the early 2010s, and in 2012 it was the eighth-fastest-growing British company.[25] Over 100 million pairs of Dr. Martens shoes were sold from 1960 to 2010, and in 2010 the company offered 250 different models of footwear.[7] The R. Griggs company opened fourteen new Dr. Martens retail stores in the United Kingdom, United States and Hong Kong between 2009 and 2011,[26] and also launched a line of clothing during 2011.[27]

Private equity investment


The private equity company Permira acquired R. Griggs Group Limited, the owner of the Dr. Martens brand, for £300 million in October 2013.[28] For a time Dr. Martens footwear was sold under a "for life" scheme, under which it would repair or replace worn-out DM shoes forever for a price somewhat more than twice the normal price for a pair. This offer was available in 2016, but was withdrawn for new sales from May 2018.[29] After Permira purchased Dr. Martens the former brand president of Vans was hired as CEO.[30]

Production issues


In 2018 ten million pairs of Dr. Martens shoes were produced, only one percent in the UK.[10] Annual revenue in 2019 was £454 million, six times more than in 2013. The most popular model remained the 1460 boots.[31] In 2019 Dr. Martens announced plans to double the production of shoes and boots in the UK, to 165,000 pairs annually in 2020.[32] Dr Martens' design studio is in Camden Town, London.[31]

In 2019 The Guardian reported concerns that the quality of Dr. Martens shoes had declined since either production was moved to Asia or Permira acquired the brand. Many of the newspaper's readers reported that recently produced Dr. Martens products did not last as long as older production. The company responded that there had been no change in the materials used or production processes since manufacturing was moved to Asia, and only 0.5% of its footwear was defective.[33][29]

In January 2022 the Dr Marten factory in Wollaston featured on the BBC programme Inside the Factory; Series 6, Leather boots.[34]

Listing on the London Stock Exchange


Dr. Martens was listed on the London Stock Exchange at a value of £3.7 billion in January 2021.[35]

Subcultural significance


Dr. Martens have garnered significant following and ownership within various subcultures, including goth, skinhead, Neo-Nazi,[36][37] LGBT, and punk.[38][39]

Notable customers of the brand have included Pope John Paul II, Pete Townshend, Miley Cyrus, Rihanna,[37] The Clash, The Cure, Madness, Madonna, Spice Girls, The Sex Pistols, Avril Lavigne, Gwen Stefani[40] and the 14th Dalai Lama. Under John Paul II, the Swiss Guard were provided with Dr. Martens boots.[41]


See also



  1. ^ a b c "Annual Report 2023" (PDF). Dr Martens. Retrieved 12 February 2024.
  2. ^ "R. Griggs Group Ltd v. Evans 2003 EWHC 2914 (Ch)". England and Wales High Court (Chancery Division) Decisions via British and Irish Legal Information Institute. p. 1. Retrieved 4 March 2020.
  3. ^ "How Doc Martens became mainstream fashion". Tatler. 6 February 2019. Retrieved 25 August 2021.
  4. ^ Martin Roach: Dr. Martens The Story of an icon, 2003
  5. ^ "About Dr. Martens". dmusastore.com. Archived from the original on 10 July 2011. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  6. ^ "Happy 60th Birthday Dr. Martens". The New European. 16 April 2020. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  7. ^ a b c d Mazein, Elodie (2 April 2010). "Dr Martens 50 years old and still an icon to boot". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 23 August 2012.
  8. ^ "Company profile". R. Griggs Group Ltd. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  9. ^ a b "Long list unveiled for national vote on public's favourite example of Great British Design". BBC. 18 November 2016.
  10. ^ a b Romeo, Claudia (5 June 2018). "Inside Dr. Martens' only UK factory where its iconic Made In England range has been manufactured since 1960". Business Insider. Retrieved 13 June 2018.
  11. ^ a b Manzoor, Sarfraz (31 October 2010). "Dr Martens at 50: these boots were made for… everyone". The Observer. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  12. ^ "The Young Ones: Dr Marten Boots". BBC. 24 May 2010. Retrieved 17 August 2020.
  13. ^ "Our Brands > Dr. Martens". Accent Group Limited. Retrieved 15 December 2019.
  14. ^ Ipsen, Erik (17 November 1994). "Doc Martens to Stomp Into London". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  15. ^ Menkes, Suzy (29 November 1994). "London Launch For Hip Shoes: Flagship For Doc Martens". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  16. ^ "2001 Dr Martens Stand". They Fly So High. Archived from the original on 23 January 2021. Retrieved 28 February 2021.
  17. ^ "After Getting the High Fashion Treatment, Dr. Martens Amps up Litigation". The Fashion Law. 25 February 2016. Archived from the original on 15 September 2017.
  18. ^ Newman, Andrew Adam (3 December 2007). "An Antifashion Classic Returns". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  19. ^ a b Muston, Samuel (3 November 2010). "The Timeline: 50 Years of Dr Martens". The Independent. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  20. ^ "Dr Martens factories close". BBC News. 23 March 2003. Retrieved 8 October 2010.
  21. ^ Pyke, Nicholas (26 October 2002). "Dr Martens is on its uppers". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  22. ^ "Anger as Dr Martens closure looms". BBC News. 12 December 2002. Retrieved 26 August 2012.
  23. ^ a b Browne, David (7 November 2004). "Footwear Darwinism: Doc Martens Evolve". The New York Times. Retrieved 22 December 2014.
  24. ^ "Increased demand for vintage Dr Martens fuels expansion". BBC News. 29 July 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2012.
  25. ^ Cochrane, Lauren (19 July 2012). "Dr Martens enjoy comeback with best-selling season ever". The Guardian. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  26. ^ "No bovver as Docs make quick profit". Northamptonshire Telegraph. 13 April 2012. Archived from the original on 21 April 2013. Retrieved 22 August 2012.
  27. ^ "Dr. Martens launches clothing line". The Independent. 19 April 2011. Archived from the original on 25 September 2015. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  28. ^ "Dr Martens owner is bought by Permira", BBC News, London, 24 October 2013. Retrieved on 7 February 2014.
  29. ^ a b Miles Brignall (19 August 2020). "Dr Martens' 'for life' pledge has left me worn out". The Guardian. Article also with many readers' comments on the fall in quality of Dr. Martens footwear
  30. ^ "Steve Murray named CEO of Dr. Martens". eatshopsurf.com. 18 August 2014.
  31. ^ a b Wood, Zoe (17 August 2019). "Oh so pretty … political upheaval credited for Dr Martens sales boost". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 December 2019.
  32. ^ "Dr Martens invests £2m in Northampton site". BBC News. 27 February 2019. Retrieved 14 March 2019.
  33. ^ Collinson, Patrick; Smithers, Rebecca (30 November 2019). "Dr Martens: are things going wrong with the UK's beloved brand?". The Guardian.
  34. ^ "Inside the Factory, Series 6, Leather Boots". BBC Two. Retrieved 16 May 2022.
  35. ^ Sweney, Mark (29 January 2021). "Dr Martens will make stock market debut at value of £3.7 billion". The Guardian.
  36. ^ Cochrane, Lauren (1 April 2020). "Carpe DM: 60 years of the Dr Martens boot – fashion's subversive smash hit". The Guardian.
  37. ^ a b McDuling, John (27 October 2013). "How Dr. Martens boots used counter-culture to defy the punishing fashion cycle". Quartz.
  38. ^ "How Doc Martens Became a Staple in Lesbian's Closets". Capilano Courier. 19 October 2021. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  39. ^ "A History of Dr. Martens and the Punk Scene". Journeys. Retrieved 18 December 2022.
  40. ^ Kay, Karen (9 April 2010). "Dr Martens: The bovver boot that became respectable". The Express. Retrieved 18 May 2015.