Dr. Martens DA UN INJURY TO THE BIRTH OF AN ICON
FROM AN INJURY TO THE BIRTH OF AN ICON
Dr. Maertens was an inventor. From the young age, his head was a shot of ideas and possibilities. The iconic bearing sole that sits beneath our footwear is his most famous invention, but this is just one of a long list of projects he worked for and he tried to launch. His lab in Southern Germany was packed with unusual creations, including a tandem motorcycle that was essentially the fusion of two Vespa.
Around the age of 25, while skiing on the Bavarian Alps, Maertens severely fractured a foot. He already had one leg shorter than the other because of a bad teenage accident on motorcycles and every morning he had to do an intense stretching to pull himself out of bed and walk freely. And it is just as it is blocked in bed that Maertens realizes that all the footwear available on the market does not offer any relief to its painful wound. He had worked at a shoemaker one summer when he was a teenager and knew how to create a shoe. It was then that an idea suddenly leapt into his head : create a bearing sole.
Maertens thus shows the idea to a university friend of his, a chemical engineer born in Luxembourg called Dr. Funck and together they work at the first suola with air bearings. The ingenious inventor realizes instantly that the sole attenuates the pain at the joints by donating a new sensation, as if, literally, he was walking by air. But no one in Germany seems to be affected by the idea. At least not right away. Imperils and absolutely convinced of the splendid invention, Maertens and Funck nevertheless start a production line for cushioning soles in a small workshop on the shore of a lake, surrounded by piles of Funck university books and university documents.
For a while, the new business is barely putting food on the table of the two families, but plan the customers start to arrive and the word of mouth spreads. Their revolutionary, durable and extremely comfortable footwear, they begin to get noticed. And because orders continue to increase, they move their workshop into an ex-barracks.
In 1952, just a few years after Maertens had been rescued in the Alps, the two doctors opened a factory in Munich to start producing their new shoes on an industrial scale. Seven years later, they receive a call from Bill Griggs, a Northampton shoe-hose. The bearing sole becomes the base of the boot 1460. It's time for Dr. Martens to get on stage.