It looks as though the Dr Martens brand is set for sale to Permira, the organisation behind the Hugo Boss brand amongst others. I’m sure this can only be good news.
Compared to other fashion brands Dr Martens has always seemed to lag behind in its ability to extend and exploit the brand capital. Yet I’ve always felt there was enormous potential for a brand that has much more emotional legacy than simply that of a fashion label. Though it has immediate linkage to the skinhead era for those who lived through it, it went far beyond and had the power to re-engage with decades of subsequent cultures – both youth and older buyers who had the brand deeply embedded.
In terms of footwear styling, the owners managed to cleverly maintain the fundamental styles while responding to changing fashion cycles.
Perhaps the rather tentative forays into brand extension may lie the historic strength in footwear. The brand owners, the Griggs family, have footwear in their DNA. Boot and shoemakers based in the ‘shoe-capital’ of Northampton, they followed the line of playing to their core competences – the cobblers stuck to their lasts.
Now with new owners without such a strong but narrow legacy, the potential of this sleeping brand-giant may be released.