The Timeline: 50 Years of Dr Martens

Samuel Muston
Wednesday 03 November 2010 01:00 GMT

1960 The birth of an icon

Dr Martens go into production on 1 April 1960 at Bill Griggs's shoe factory in Wollaston, Northamptonshire. The air-cushioned-soles design was licensed to Grigg by German inventor Dr Klaus Maerten. Intended as orthopaedic shoes, they are marketed as industrial wear.

1966 Height of fashion

Docs make the jump from factory floor to dance floor when the Who's lead guitarist, Pete Townshend, wears them at a gig in London. The band's mod fans follow Townshend's lead.

1975 Rock on, Tommy

Townshend pushes the brand back into fashion, putting Elton John in an outsized pair for rock opera Tommy. Despite having to wear foot-long callipers to move, Elton keeps the boots.

1979 Emblem of violence

The Jam sing "A-bomb in Wardour Street" about a "Dr Martens apocalypse" after football hooligans adopt the boots.

1993 Britpop revival

Dr Martens launches a clothing line with Wayne Hemingway's Red or Dead label. To celebrate the occasion, the company commissions a house tartan called "McMartens Tartan", which is still used 17 years later.

2000 A very happy birthday

The boots' 40th is also the best year for sales, with the company selling £250m of boots in 2000 alone. A commemorative book and a Dr Martens compilation album hit the shelves and prove major earners.

2003 End of an era?

With profits falling by 30 per cent in one year alone, the over-stretched boot maker narrowly avoids bankruptcy proceedings. All but one of the company's UK factories are closed, and only a collaboration with Jimmy Choo and Vivienne Westwood prevent financial collapse.

2005 Turnaround of the year

The company wins the Institute for Turnaround's annual award, after the Griggs restructure the company back to profitability. The firm opens a new store in Soho in 2006.

2010 Golden oldie

To celebrate the boots' half century, the company launches a new range of products that come with a lifetime guarantee. The seven-piece For Life collection is premiered at Dr Martens' pop-up stores in London.

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