Dr Martens use their refound trendiness to kickstart a possible sale

R Griggs Group, the UK-based footwear manufacturer, has appointed the investment bank N M Rothschild to determine market sentiment over a possible sale of the footwear brand Dr Martens.

Most of us will associate the famous Dr Martens shoe and boot brand with images from the 70s and 80s in terms of punks and skinheads wearing the iconic boots. However, the history of Dr Martens and how it became an iconic brand is more interesting, and has certainly more to do with an industry-leading development originating from Germany after the Second World War rather than the fashion statements originating in the 70s.

R Griggs purchased the rights to the boots from Munich-based Dr Maertens and Dr Funck, who between them had developed the first air cushioned sole and were looking for innovative shoe manufacturers who might buy into this new concept of cushioning. R Griggs did, and history was made with the first pair of air cushioned Dr Martens rolling off the production line in April 1960.

All fashions appear to be cyclical, and true to form Dr Martens have re-entered mainstream shopping tastes, with the brand becoming popular again in youth culture and over half of its annual sales originating in the US. Production was moved to China some 10 years ago, although some production of ‘vintage’ lines was moved back to the UK in 2007.

Whilst Dr Martens may not yet have the global iconic status of some other shoe manufacturers that have attracted either outright purchase or minority stake investments in recent years – for example, Timberland, Bally, Asics and Geox – it does have the advantage of being considered a uniquely British brand which, inevitably, should generate interest both in Asia and the US.

Filed under: fashion, UK, dealmaking