My Dr Martens are probably the longest lasting, certainly the most durable items in my wardrobe. And looking at the brands soaring sales figures, it seems I’m not the only devotee. ASOS has reported a 230 per cent rise in sales from 2011-2012, numbers in line with equally booming sales figures in France, the US and Hong Kong, supporting the company’s announcement in May about its huge £22 million boom in profits.
Originally a working man’s boot made for factory workers who required the durability, comfort and safety of a steel toed boot, the brand shot to fame in the 70s when the likes of John Lydon favoured the shoe and later became adopted by grunge patriots, Nirvana. Now, with the likes of Rihanna coveting pairs of her own, the once workman’s boot has popularity in wider circles than ever before– a massive achievement in a sea of high maintenance women who would rather glue on eyelashes and induce bunions with their stilettos, than choose comfortable footwear.
But it hasn’t always been plain sailing for the iconic British brand. On 1 April 2003, under pressure from declining sales, the company ceased all production in the UK, choosing to follow its competitors and move all production lines to China and Thailand.
Thankfully in 2007, regardless of continuing speculation, Dr. Martens began producing some footwear again in England, in their famous Cobbs Lane Factory in Wollaston. These products are part of their “Vintage” line, which they advertise as being made to the original specs.
Despite these inconsistencies, their collaboration with Liberty last season exceeded sales expectations, and their up and coming collection by model Agyness Deyn promises to be just as popular.
“I have always had a really intense relationship with Dr. Martens, right from my first pair back when I was 13, which I bought as a combination of showing that I wanted to rebel against my parents and they were the coolest boots that I could get away with wearing to school which stood for something that gave me my own stamp of originality,” says Deyn.
As a lifelong fan of the brand, the model promises her collection will merge a grunge aesthetic with modern styling, quality prints and bright pops of colour that can be worked with a variety of versatile ways.
Their new winter collection also features a variety of rich velvet florals and fun leopard prints. My favourite; the Brady boot with its classic 8 eyelets has been given a luxurious winter makeover with a sheepskin lining. All the warmth of an UGG boot, without the marshmallow-like appearance.
The brand itself is currently up for sale, with a rumoured price tag of £200 million. I can only hope this once thoroughly British brand will be bought by someone who appreciates its heritage and more importantly, the importance of maintaining it. It will be a great shame otherwise, if we can’t keep one of the few truly great heritage brands forever in the country that made it so.
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