Hello Kitty Purrs Her Way on to Dr. Martens
What was once a serious working man's boot will, 50 years later, sport the image of the "world's most adorable kitten" on it. Somewhere, someone is spinning in a grave -- but don't expect that someone to be the Hello Kitty fans eager to be wearing one of the limited edition Dr. Martens coming out in September.
Dr. Martens ("Doc Martens" for the uninitiated) boots transitioned from being a working-class essential to a counter-culture icon back in the 1960s. To sport your "Docs" was to wear your politics, much the same as long hair and bell-bottom jeans. They spoke rebellion and hipness and were probably the first statement shoe to be declared as such. Today's Docs are simply cool, favored by the music scene and regularly sold with MP3 download tie-ins.
Created in the Munich garage of Dr. Klaus Maertens, who eventually teamed up with the Griggs shoe-making family of Great Britain, the sturdy boot was born, a boot that felt -- and still feels -- like you were walking on air. The cat -- as in Hello Kitty -- didn't come up this alley until of late.
Gallery: Hello Kitty Dr. Martens
Signature Dr. Martens 8-eye boots and Mary Jane Strap shoes will carry the trademark Hello Kitty bow in a limited edition collection. It's a marriage that could have only been concocted in a branding specialist's test-tube, but it does have a brilliance about it.
The mailmen, factory workers and union guys who initially bought Dr. Martens by the thousands were joined by the rebels and outcasts of the 60s. East End London skinheads -- who back then lacked the current crop's racist values -- were the first subculture to adopt the boots as their own. By the late 1960s, with Beatlemania and the British music invasion in full grip, the boot had crossed the big pond and been absorbed by the Mods, punks, Goths, metal heads and everyone else in between. The advent of the Internet blurred most lines and the Dr. Martens brand has survived with a bent toward social responsibility and a lifetime guarantee. It remains edgy as a brand, and deeply aligned with the music culture.
Hello Kitty has successfully morphed its product line into adult offerings, including high-end jewelry, fine wine, appliances and clothing. The Hello Kitty designs in this brand pairing include a darling pair of Mary Janes and the 8-eye Dr. Martens with a Hello Kitty patterned design. The boots retail for $165.