What comes to mind when you think of Docs? The punk rockers, festival-goers, alternative bunch? Or maybe originality, non-conformism, rebelling. To me, Docs are just an embodiment of self expression, and at it’s most simple – really great shoes.
The history and groove of the label is pretty much tangible when you walk into the new Exeter store on the high street, a feeling I’m sure they intended to create. An individual brand has crafted an individual store, with an enticing décor and friendly atmosphere, that has become the perfect space to browse everything they have to offer. While there is an obvious focus on footwear, it was nice to see a variety of other accessories too, from leather bags and purses to carefully crafted t-shirts. It is worth noting that there are items you would not be able to find in other stores on the high street that stock Docs.
The most comforting thing when browsing all these products is knowing the high standard to which they’re all made, and this especially translates to the iconic shoes which have always been known for their robustness and endurance. There are a variety of styles available; you have the option of the completely classic 1460 boot or groovy all-white numbers. They even have an artistic take on the shoe, with the new ‘Tate x Dr Martens” range, which have transferred the renowned works of William Blake to wearable materials.
The opening was made even more exciting by the live music sets from two up-and-coming bands; Munchie Girls and Blackfoxxes. The punk and rock notes broadcasted all throughout the store and got everyone in the grooving mood, and the atmosphere just became that of a great gig out. The choice of bands were apt, as both had some inspiring original lyrics, and a passion for performing that you know comes from the heart. Sponsored by Brewdog, the launch was a testament to how Dr Martens wants to carve their place in the Exeter community, fun and full of expression.
While Docs may have a certain image come to mind when you think of their shoes, I was pleasantly surprised that they really do have something for everyone. I think the inclusivity of this brand, for those who want to feel a little original, is what makes Docs so popular to this day. Starting with the idea of Klaus Märtens in the 1940s, the never before seen combination of solid shoe and springy rubber sole (the now famous ‘AirWair’) made Docs so popular in sales, that they were able to open a UK branch where the shoes were made in a factory in Northamptonshire. It was here that the use of Docs in different cultures catapulted their fame and sales grew.
The Dr Marten’s company acknowledges the music scene as the “heart” of the brand, so it’s no wonder the bands at the launch were so funky, and it was various different sub cultures of music that transformed the shoe from the work wear boot of the 1940s to the cultural icon of the 1960s. The punk movement and bands like The Who began to openly wear the shoes as a championship of the British working class lifestyle, and so the Dr Martens shoe became a youth culture orientated expression with loyal groups wearing them throughout all their different style changes.
The history of the Docs brand is reflected in the store by the wall dedicated “The Original Icons” with all the boots and shoes that made Dr. Martens what it is today, a call out to the success of the past. The rest of the shop is then laden with almost as many varieties of the shoe as you could think of; patterned, sparkly, glossy, soft-top, kid sizes and a vegan leather range. I was particularly happy to see the brand have invested in the latter, another tribute to their inclusive manner.
It’s clear to see that the brand also has Exeter as a city in mind too. This was shown by the wonderful art mural at the centre of the store that was a commission from local artist Josh Monk. The work depicts the archetypal Martens boot set in amongst the landmarks of Exeter while broadcasting everything that the brand represents – it definitely makes for a lovely tribute.
All this, along with the lovely group of people that turned up to celebrate the launch, made for a brilliant opening. It’s only going to get more exciting from here; the company has plans to put on more community events, so keep an eye out for those.
With 10% discount for students and all the shoe aftercare you could ever need, there’s nothing stopping you from giving the store a visit next time you head to town!
– Sasha Macaulay
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM SASHA AND CANOEINC PR.