Exhibition: Dr Martens at 50: The Making of an Icon, Northampton Museum and Art Gallery, Northampton, until May 16 2010
From policemen to punks and favourable flights of fancy to unmistakable fashion faux pas, Dr Martens boots have experienced various transitions across the decades.
This exhibition celebrates the 50th anniversary of the iconic footwear, displaying material from the museum's own collection as well as artefacts from Dr Martens' own archive.
Colours and styles have changed, but the popularity of the Dr Martens brand has rarely wavered
It tells the story of the boots from their first hop off the production line in East Northamptonshire, to their current cult status among youth culture.
Klaus Martëns, a German doctor during World War II, developed the shoe after discovering his army boots gave no support to an ankle injury caused after a skiing accident in Bavaria.
The iconic boot has been a punk favourite
Soft leather and air-padded soles were the answers to his ailments, and in 1947 he convinced an old university friend, Dr Herbert Funck, to venture into business with him, selling the new design.
An immediate hit among housewives, the first boot (given the catchy name of 1461) was designed at the Wollaston-based Griggs company.
The Dr Martens Footwear Formula
It quickly evolved to play a key role in fashion and music movements in the 50 years which followed, most notably during the punk movements of the 1980s.
"They have simultaneously represented both fashion and anti-fashion," says Josephine Hickin, Heritage Officer for the museum.
A sparkly cousin of the classic design
"There is no other shoe brand which has made such a vast contribution to British culture. Their story is fascinating."
As well as a number of styles and varieties of the boot, the infamous DM stilt boots – worn by Elton John in the film Tommy – will be redisplayed as part of the exhibition, and a documentary commissioned by the Dr Martens company will play from 1st April onwards.
Admission free. Lunchtime talk in the Gallery at 1pm, April 13. Call 01604 838 111 for more details.