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When the Griggs family of Northampton in England teamed up with Munich-based Dr Martens and his university friend Dr Funck to create a work boot with an air cushioned sole, little did they know that footwear and fashion was about to change forever.
The first pair of Doc Marten boots for men rolled off the production line on April 1st, 1960. In those early years, however, there were two distinctive and pivotal moments that caused these now iconic shoes and youth culture to meld together. First up was the early skinhead, a multi-cultural, ska-loving homage to the British working classes, mimicking the dress sense of the working man with an obsessive attention to detail – right down to their Dr Marten boots.
A few short and volatile years later, Pete Townshend deliberately donned a pair of black 1460s on stage with his incendiary band The Who. When Townshend jumped around in his Doc Marten shoes, the young world watched. In an era of flower power and dandyish psychedelia, it's safe to say that Townshend looked … different.
The inventors of the Dr Marten shoes' air-cushioned sole, the Griggs family, filled every youth subculture that has ever existed – they all have one common denominator; a primal urge to be different. Modern youth culture is now unrecognisable from the 1950s – in some ways from the 1990s even – and yet the next chapters of the history books will be written by exactly the same kind of personalities who penned the memoirs of the first fifty years of subculture. Namely, people who want to be individuals, who want to be expressive, rebellious, free-thinking … and different. That word again.
And when they learn from the footsteps of their predecessors and step into a future of their own making, they might just do it in a pair of Doc Marten boots…