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Late last week, a thoroughly British icon of all that’s punk and oddly comforting sent up a flare indicating a spot of trouble.

Sales are way off for Dr. Martens footwear the giant soled combat boot and assorted shoes that came to mean so much to the kind of people who wished not to be entirely understood.

The fashionably rebellious have, of course, moved on from the combat boot seen in the mosh pits of yore. Hard core punks, skinheads and goth kids are still bitter about the decade long sellout of their beloved Docs, to the point where the shoe became widely seen on the Man (who bought them at Macy’s and wore them to work, in a bloody cubicle).

Dr. Martens’ parent company, the R. Griggs Group, in addition to announcing that it will close one of its three factories in England, put forth some ideas to “shape new perceptions about the brand.” Soon it will be coming up with shoes that will be lighter in weight, different in style, prettier. (It will continue to make the “1460,” its trademark black, eight eyelet, lace up boot of 42 years, along with other classic styles.)

“We’ll always have a core group of consumers, but there were opportunities to evolve. I don’t think we evolved enough,” Bobbie Parisi, global brand director for Dr. Martens, says from Portland, Ore. “There is still a lot of opportunity for us to evolve. In my own mind, the brand name stands for self expression, and we think there’s a way for that to be carried on.”

But self expression is a difficult thing to bottle and sell to 5 million selves, which is how many people bought a pair of Docs last year. (Dr. Martens says sales will be “well down” this year.)

Just as Levi’s 501 jeans and Adidas track suits and Lacoste tennis shirts have all learned a thing or two about the ebb and flow of a finicky phenomenon called “retro,
dr martens 10 eyelet Doc Martens Trying to Pull Up Its Socks
” Dr. Martens will probably learn the hard way that what goes around comes around and then it has to leave again.

Inasmuch as it’s a story about one business hitting a slump, the Doc Martens falloff is a larger tale about a philosophy of life being in trouble. Decades never quite begin and end according to the calendar, yet there is delayed evidence that the ’90s are over: Planes hit skyscrapers, Internet whiz kids are moving back into their parents’ houses and nobody is rich anymore except the rich.

And Doc Martens, as we knew them, are passe.

The future isn’t as grimy and post apocalyptic as we were led to believe. For all its artificiality and cleaner lines, it’s a lot more real. It is again a striped sneaker kind of place, with loafers and slides.

It all began when Klaus Maertens, a German medical doctor, injured a foot while skiing in the Bavarian Alps. Recuperating, Maertens and an engineer named Herbert Funck designed an air sole shoe to take the load off. They marketed the shoe locally, and eventually sold the patent to R. Griggs Co., shoemakers of London. The first pair of black boots with the thick, patented, heat sealed sole and distinctive yellow stitching were made in 1960.

After that, no marketing plan could have intuited the slow path to high fashion that the boots took.

London Mods wore them, and so did the police officers who chased their scooters. The first punks wore them. The ska bands wore them, and the goth kids wore them. The second coming of punk wore them (or wore the Converse All Star sneaker, now no longer made in America but in China), and the widely defined “grunge/alternative” universe heat sealed the shoe’s fate.

By then, a pair of boots cost $120 or more, millions and millions were sold, and there’s not much punk about that. In everyone’s rush to be alternative, the Doc Martens lost its angry credibility.

But Parisi isn’t about to give up.

She describes the new Dr. Martens campaign and talks about some of the new sandals. The soles are about one quarter of the thickness of the old Dr. Martens sole,
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she says.

1461 dr martens Doc Martens proves the spirit of the ’90s is alive

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The boots re appeared on my radar when I spotted a young teen furiously tapping away on her laptop at a local bookstore. She looked like a contemporary version of the 1990s me (although I would have been perched at a desk in our family room, using Windows 95), with nerdy glasses and long, tangled hair. She probably had on a swipe of Bonne Bell Lip Smackers, too, but that is beside the point. What made me notice her was the pair of loosely tied, 18 hole Dr. Martens she was wearing. So casually badass, she sat there writing her likely genius, angst filled blog post. The boots said it all: the spirit of the ’90s is alive.Dr. Martens, a practical footwear originally made for the working class, but transformed into a symbol of rebellion by successive generations of youthful music lovers, have returned to trendy shop shelves, this time sporting an attractive twinkle.Docs, as they are affectionately known, landed in British stores in 1960 for such uniformed folks as policemen, but were quickly adopted by youth culture. Ska loving British skinheads wore Docs in the late ’60s, forever linking them with teenage rebellion. The boots then shape shifted through various music scenes, including punk and mod revivalist in the ’80s, and grunge in the ’90s. The early 2000s were a low point for DM after a re branding strategy gone wrong nearly pushed it intobankruptcy. Production resumed in Wollaston, England in 2004 and Docs have soared again in popularity.Why the resurgence of a style that’s already had its day(s) in the sun? A North American obsession with Brit culture? A perpetual yearning for our lost youth? Elizabeth Chorney Booth, a Doc enthusiast circa 1991, attributes the renewed interest to the allure of the ’80s and ’90s and the anything goes style ethos of those decades. “They’re popular again for people in their teens and early 20s much in the same way as I rocked vintage mod era dresses and bouffant hair in the late ’90s.” We never thought it would, but the era of Nirvana and Alanis Morissette has come full circle.Thanks to an increased product line, Docs are now appearing on the feet of infants and hipsters alike. Available in all sorts of wonderful colours and patterns, this chunky soled boot is fast becoming a wardrobe staple.Ethan Cook,
1461 dr martens Doc Martens proves the spirit of the '90s is alive
13, fell in love with a pair of Union Jack emblazoned boots two years ago. “To be honest, they just spoke to me. I was excited to wear them for back to school. I didn’t realize they were Dr. Martens at the time and my mom explained that she had some at my age, too.”His mom, Erica Cook, 40, currently on the hunt for a pair of cherry coloured eight holes, dates her love of the boots back to her teen days when her inner circle of friends included punk and mod kids. “I was always the kid who did my own thing and never really conformed to one mould. Present day, I wouldn’t say I fit in any specific genre either,” she says. The boot doesn’t fall far from the shoe rack in the Cook family: son Lawson, 5, eagerly wears his boots most days.”I feel like they are cool that my big brother has them,” he says. “Plus, they never gave me blisters.”You couldn’t ask for a better brand endorsement than that.Gibbins: How to keep Canada united for another 150 years Gibbins that Canada’s sesquicentennial party is over.Davis: City needs to be careful as it considers allowing more secondary suitesBy Chris Davis City council is considering a major citywide land use amendment at.Province, Enmax settle lawsuit surrounding return of electricity contractThe provincial government has reached a settlement with Enmax, ending a legal battle.CBE class sizes not meeting guidelines, even after scathing auditor general reportIn spite of a $52 million investment to reduce class sizes last year, the Calgary.Calgary man suing police, feds for demanding fingerprints because of his birth dateA Calgary man says he was forced to provide his fingerprints or give up a 12 year.’Kind of shocking:’ Several skiers and snowboarders die in tree wells this year{ displayName }Postmedia wants to improve your reading experience as well as share the best deals and promotions from our advertisers with you. The information below will be used to optimize the content and make ads across the network more relevant to you. You can always change the information you share with us by editing your profile. epaper, Digital Access, Subscriber Rewards), please input your Print Newspaper subscription phone number and postal code.{ phone }{ addressPostalCode }By clicking “Create Account”, I hearby grant permission to Postmedia to use my account information to create my account.I also accept and agree to be bound by Postmedia’s Terms and Conditions with respect to my use of the Site and I have read and understand Postmedia’s Privacy Statement. I consent to the collection, use, maintenance,
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and disclosure of my information in accordance with the Postmedia’s Privacy Policy.

white dr marten boots Doc Martens Go From Mtv To The Malls

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He was recovering from a skiing mishap and wanted a therapeutic shoe he could walk on without pain. An admirable goal, but not exactly hip.

Today, after a 30 year market history, the clunky looking boots once worn mostly by mailmen and factory workers in Europe are gracing the feet of young Americans in ripped jeans and XXX large sweatshirts.

Doc Martens have been a clandestinely cool fashion accessory in the United States for more than a decade, but now they seem to be making a bid for mainstream acceptance.

“In our fall flier, we have a whole page of Doc Martens. We did a lot of the grunge look in our flier,” said Michael Zibel, vice president of marketing for the Meriden based Bob’s Stores. “We think this fall will be the biggest season ever for Doc Martens.”

The basic Doc Martens look like they inspired the guy who penned the phrase “Your mother wears army boots”: black, shiny and with extra thick soles. The boot comes in several colors for women, and the company even makes a tasseled loafer.

Most shoe sellers will tell you it’s a very average looking boot, rugged and plain. But Zibel and others say young people have made Doc Martens a staple of the so called grunge look, which is kind of an anti fashion fashion trend.

The look includes shorts so baggy, the crotch touches the ground; sweatshirts and T shirts layered so thick, not even Bounty is a quicker picker upper; and beat up flannel shirts with more pills than your neighborhood druggist.

Zibel and other retailers said the boots gained a new popularity in America about two years ago, after a few celebrities

were seen sporting them on magazine covers and television.

“If the kids see somebody wearing something on MTV, the next week they’re asking for it,” Zibel said.

Madonna has worn them. Ted Gardner, the producer of this year’s Lollapalooza concert/pop culture tour, was quoted in The New York Times recently as saying, “Kilts for men, T shirts and Doc Marten boots are still happening.” The boots have also become an item ripe for customization, with key chains, toys, etc. hung from the straps.

Some people even use Doc Martens as a generic term meaning any boot, and the brand is now available, gasp, in shopping malls.

At about $110 a pair, Doc Martens boots are among the pricier items available at Bob’s Stores. But they are also sold at places that stock $500 Italian crocodile shoes, such as Bottega Giuliana on Pratt Street.

“They’re the most consistent seller we have. We never put them on sale,” said Daniella Galati, a salesperson at the store. “We started carrying them on order, because people were asking for them. Now we stock them.”

Galati said the Doc Martens are not just trendy, they’re also sought by people who want well made shoes that will “last forever.” But she says it’s the young and trendy who buy the bulk of the boots.

“When you wear Doc Martens, people look at you and know you paid $120 for work boots,” says James Walker, 17, of Windsor, who works at The Wild Pair shoe store in Westfarms mall on the West Hartford Farmington line. James, we’ll buy that, but is there another reason you decided to buy them?

“All my friends wear them,” Walker said.

Walker says he can wear his Doc Martens with shorts, jeans, or his work clothes. The store carries Doc Martens, but they sell so well, Walker says, he doesn’t get a discount on them.

“People are always coming in and asking if we have the newest style, if we have the 13 eyelet boot,” Walker said. “People always want something new.”

Doc Martens are not new. More than 50 million have been sold since the British manufacturer R. Griggs Group Ltd. began mass producing the boots in 1960 as “Dr. Martens.”

The company ships the brand to more than 22 countries via AirWare Ltd., its distribution division, and has annual sales of $187 million.

Dr. Maertens developed the shoes with a sealed, air filled cavity in the sole. Originally the shoes were marketed for people with foot problems and workers who were on their feet all day.

Though they are popular today, some shoe sellers think the popularity is waning.

“They were big at Christmas, but sales are going down now,” said Saurabh Bhatt, manager of Track ‘n Trail at Westfarms. “The boots are very well made, so they’ll probably outlast the fad.”
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I CAME late to the cult of Dr. Martens. I had never liked labels on my footwear. I was afraid of skinheads, who were the shoe’s leading fans. Then in 1992, during the summer of the second Lollapalooza tour, I dropped into a store on Lower Broadway to try on a pair.

That was the heyday of the blocky, slablike boots ideally suited to mean city streets and mosh pits. Essentially unchanged since they were introduced to the mass market in Britain in 1960, Dr. Martens were long associated with punks. With the rise of alternative rock in America, the boots with the inch thick soles and trademark yellow stitching crossed the Atlantic as the perfect accessory for faded flannels and baggy shorts.

For me Doc Martens, as everyone called them, were not so much a style statement as a problem solver. Docksiders, loafers, ankle boots I had tried them all but none felt right. Part of the reason I had become a rock critic was so I didn’t have to dress up for work. Finally here was footwear that was durable and could be worn with everything in my wardrobe. Even scuff marks only made them look better.

I was immediately hooked, and over the next 12 years I went through a half dozen or so pairs, mostly the model 1461 shoe, a sibling to the classic 1460 boot. Blisters were inevitable, but in time they healed. My most cherished souvenir from a trip to London was a pair of brown Doc Martens, even though I could have bought the same pair a few blocks from my Manhattan home. For the first time in my life I was loyal to a clothing label.

Alas, the Dr. Martens company has been slavishly loyal to itself. (The name comes from a German doctor, Klaus Maertens, who came up with the idea of a tire inspired rubber sole after a skiing accident.) In 1994, at the height of the company’s popularity, it was selling 125,000 pairs of boots and shoes in this country a month, but an aversion to change proved its undoing. Seattle grunge rock waned, and the teen pop movement that followed had no use for Docs: you would never see a Backstreet Boy in a 1460. The hip hop rooted sneaker culture of the 90’s made Doc Martens seem stiff and clunky. “Like any fashion trend, Doc Martens had an iconic look,” said Michael Atmore, editorial director of Footwear News. “And it gets identified with a particular era, which is both the beauty and the horror of it.”

I stuck with Doc Martens when everyone seemed to cast them aside and the shoe stores near my home cut back their stock. Over dinner one night, a friend glanced down at my scuffed pair and made a crack: “Going to check some gas meters later?” I chuckled, but I knew the loss was his. He didn’t understand. Doc Martens were not just a shoe but a symbol of stability in an unstable world. Or so I kept telling myself as I bought one pair after another, enduring the raised eyebrows of friends and family.

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By last year, when worldwide sales had dropped to five million pairs a year, half of what they had been in the late 90’s, something had to give. The company introduced a new line of shoes and boots this year to attract younger buyers and, it hoped, keep the loyalists. The name of the new line alone, Comfort Tech, made me wince: Doc Martens are not supposed to be overly comfy or tech. Your feet have to earn the right to wear them. “We’re still keeping the classic product,” said Bobbie Parisi, the company’s chief of global marketing. “But we wanted to offer consumers the same styles in materials that you don’t necessarily have to break in for a year and get your D. M. blisters.”

On first inspection, the footwear ($90 for the shoe, $110 for the boot) didn’t seem radically different. Looking closer, I saw that the heel was translucent, reflecting trends set by sneakers and the iMac. The leather on the shoe was crinkly, not greasy smooth. The toe was harder. after its drummer, Bill Berry, left: it looked the same, even though it no longer was.

Slipping into the new shoes, I walked around my office and out to lunch. I felt a little disloyal. Grudgingly, though, I had to admit some of the alterations were improvements. The inside foot bed was softer and squishier. The buttery leather on the boot actually made it possible to bend my ankle.

I was older now, with a child, and the company was right: I didn’t have the time or patience to break in shoes.

If the original Docs stood for continuity, the revamped models are a way of acknowledging change in footwear and in life. I laced up my new boots and hit the pavement, hard. There were diapers to buy.
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Blimey! Dr. Martens is celebrating its 50th birthday on April 1. Where did time go? Just think. Your total stiff of a boss might have been sporting an acid green Mohawk, wearing studded Docs and moshing in the ’80s as a punk. Now, he drives a Jag, can’t figure out the photocopier and enjoys easy listening on the 405 drive home. But he just might still wear Docs.

Fans of the brand are a loyal bunch. So Dr. Martens is celebrating its 50th anniversary by thanking them with new, limited edition boots and shoes that go on sale Thursday, plus free video and music downloads of 10 performances especially commissioned for the occasion.

First, the shoes: 1,460 lucky leather lovers will walk away with a classic pebble grain finish in a black 1460 boot, and 1,460 will have a shot at the same boot in cherry red. Gold heel loops and eyelets add to their bespoke feel. There are also a limited number of shoes as an option for those who like Docs to stop at the ankle. All these limited editions come packaged in a box that’s been specially conceived for the anniversary. and inside you’ll find a letter of authenticity.

Right, so after saying all of this and getting you excited, you think I’m going to ruin your day with the price? You are so wrong. These babies are actually cheaper than some of the kicks sold year round at the flagship and online stores. The 1460s are a deal at $200, and the 1461s are $180. But if you want them, get in line now. With so few available and fans around the globe wanting them, they are bound to sell out fast.

They are available on Doc Martens’ website and at selected stores around the world, including Opening Ceremony in Los Angeles.

If you can’t land a pair, don’t be discouraged. There are other awesome celebratory gifts. Music and Docs have always been naturally paired. Collaborating with 10 musicians covering classic tunes and using cutting edge video directors, the brand has worked hard to include a sound and feel for every taste. Behind the scenes clips (as well as the videos and songs) will be available to download for free at Doc Martens website.

When we asked the CEO of Dr. Martens, David Suddens, what he predicted for the next 50 years, he simply stated: “We don predict the future. But as long as people want to express their individuality and their freedom, they will wear Docs. We be celebrating our 100 years, that for sure.”
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A group of skinheads walking around the streets of Newcastle on 8th June 19721 of 8Dr. Martens store in Covent Garden, London8 of 8Robson GreenRobson Green talks about the loves of his life including his new girlfriend and extreme fishingActor and presenter Robson Green lands his greatest catch of allCelebsAlun’s glad to be gayVeteran actor Alun Armstrong worries about what his old mates will make of his latest screen role as a homosexual teacher.JarrowRestaurant Review: Martino’s on Ellison Street in JarrowThe Chronicle’s Gordon Barr reviews Martino’s Italian Steakhouse and Grill on Ellison Street in JarrowMetroCentreMetroland Remembered: Enjoy these nostalgic pictures from our archiveAs we mark 27 years since the theme park first opened, enjoy our archive pictures of the much loved attractionWallsendOld Pictures of Wallsend down the yearsView old pictures of Wallsend including: the High Street, Wallsend Park, the town hall and Swan Hunter shipyardSunderland AFCManager Chris Coleman names the player Sunderland should rebuild around next seasonBlack Cats manager Chris Coleman has been hugely impressed by the spirit shown by Academy of Light product George Honeyman this seasonNorthumbria PoliceKnife wielding thieves steal cash during two robberies at North Tyneside shopsA man brandishing a knife entered a convenience store in North Shields before another man, also armed with a blade, entered a store in LongbentonEast CoastLondon’s King’s Cross Station closes for an hour due to a pro Kurdish demonstrationTravel disruption was caused after the major transport hub was forced to close as protesters marched against ISISTheatre RoyalA Geordie debut for a Canadian dance company and the return of the ‘Little Waster’Ballet British Columbia, having risen to the top in Canada, is testing UK waters with its first tour of the countryStocksfieldWoman branded ‘gorilla hand’ by cruel school bully opens up about swelling conditionMolly Cuthbert, from Stocksfield, says her lymphoedema is what makes her different and ‘there’s nothing wrong with being different’Northumbria PoliceKnife wielding thieves steal cash during two robberies at North Tyneside shopsA man brandishing a knife entered a convenience store in North Shields before another man, also armed with a blade, entered a store in LongbentonEast CoastLondon’s King’s Cross Station closes for an hour due to a pro Kurdish demonstrationTravel disruption was caused after the major transport hub was forced to close as protesters marched against ISIS
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Customers at Doc Harper’s in downtown Billings will see the inspiration for the new business once they walk in the door.

It’s in the framed photo of a distinguished man in a blue suit, brightened by an overhead spotlight. That’s Robert “Doc” Harper, a longtime Sidney country doctor who delivered 3,000 babies in Eastern Montana and performed countless surgeries over four decades of practice.

He also loved a good martini and good conversation and spent a decade of retirement in Billings until his death in 1994, said his son, bar owner Bruce Harper. Now Doc is the face of Billings’ newest martini bar at 116 N. Broadway, a bustling downtown spot.

“I never dreamed that I would be using him as a marketing tool,” Bruce Harper, 72, said last week, gazing at the portrait.

Doc Harper’s will open this week at 116 N. Broadway after five months of renovations. It’s one of downtown’s first new businesses of 2015, and merchants are looking forward to more developments after a busy 2014.

Harper, a West End attorney, made a big investment: about $125,000 to $150,000 to renovate the former zPizza space. In August, he successfully lobbied the Billings City Council to approve an all purpose liquor license for the 1,500 square foot spot.

Now, Harper is joining a busy Broadway Avenue where businesses are excited to gain more foot traffic.

Across the street are the Montana Brew Pub and Hooligan’s sports bar, two popular downtown hot spots. Those two are bookended by the Crystal Lounge to the south

and Bin 119 restaurant and lounge to the north. The Stampede country western bar, which is undergoing a change in ownership, is a block away.

Nearby establishments are welcoming their new neighbor.

“If it’s downtown, it’s bringing people downtown. We all have different focuses,” said Sean Graves, co owner of Hooligan’s and the brew pub.

The west side of that Broadway block was barren and uninviting a decade ago, and Graves said he’s happy to see more activity there now.

“I like to paint the picture that the magic is on Broadway,” he said.

Harper said he hopes to create a relaxed atmosphere for the after work crowd. Doc Harper’s seats about 50 on the main floor on cushioned booths and chairs and another 30 upstairs.

“You meet the big city expectation long and narrow and intimate,
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” Harper said. to midnight, Monday through Saturday.

Two flat screen TVs will be on mute to catch the game or news, but Harper’s focus is creating a gathering place for people to meet and socialize downtown. He and his wife, Barbara, will be there most nights greeting people, he said.

“We’re going to be hands on,” Harper said.

The signature martini is a Doc’s Preferred, a favorite of both generations of Harpers: Grey Goose vodka, hold the vermouth, with a pimento olive and onion on a stick.

Another specialty is Barb’s Grapefruitini, named for Harper’s wife. It’s a sweet mix of vodka, grapefruit juice, Kinky Liquer and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

Doc Harper’s also has a row of bronzed mugs for Moscow mules, a ginger flavored beverage that has enjoyed a recent revival.

The menu includes 14 specialty cocktails and a wide assortment of wines. Doc Harper’s also serves locally brewed beer from Uberbrew, Angry Hank’s, Carter’s and Canyon Creek Brewery. A small hors d’oeurve menu is available. Navy (“Part of Navy life was bringing drinks to the shore,” he cracked), but he’s hired experienced talent to run the place.

Doc Harper’s has 11 employees, including manager Tony Vega, who’s spent about 15 years in the business.

“It’s a prime location. I really think it’s going to bring a good energy,” Vega said.

Opening day has not been announced and was bumped back from last week so the bar’s credit card system would be ready, Harper said.

Elsewhere downtown, more new developments are expected this year. Missoula’s Big Dipper Ice Cream is planning to open a new store in February at the corner of Broadway and Second Avenue North. That same month, Gallery Interiors is moving into the Kress building at the former Bottega store, which is moving to Shiloh Crossing.

The Pita Pit is also opening early this year a second restaurant at 2813 Second Ave. N.

Harper, who previously worked in a downtown office at the First Interstate Bank building, said he’s excited about the activity in the middle of his return.
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Sales are way off for Dr Martens footwear the giant soled combat boot and assorted shoes that came to mean so much to the kind of people who wished not to be entirely understood.

The fashionably rebellious have, of course, moved on from the combat boot seen in the mosh pits of yore. Hard core punks, skinheads and Goth kids are still bitter about the decade long sellout of their beloved Docs, to the point where the shoe became widely seen on The Man (who bought them at Macy’s and wore them to work, in a bloody cubicle. It’s like the skinheads say: Oi!).

Dr Martens’ parent company, the R. Griggs Group, in addition to announcing that it will close one of its three factories in England, put forth some ideas to “shape new perceptions about the brand.” Soon it will be coming up with shoes that will be lighter in weight, different in style, prettier. (It will continue to make the “1460,” its trademark black, eight eyelet, lace up boot of 42 years, along with other classic styles.)

“We’ll always have a core group of consumers, but there were opportunities to evolve. I don’t think we evolved enough,” Bobbie Parisi, global brand director for Dr Martens, says from her office in Portland, Ore., which will always, come rain or rain, be a chunky boot kind of place. “There is still a lot of opportunity for us to evolve. In my own mind, the brand name stands for self expression, and we think there’s a way for that to be carried on.”

But self expression is a difficult thing to bottle and sell to 5 million selves, which is how many people bought a pair of Docs last year. (Dr Martens says sales will be “well down” this year; some industry observers say it could be half.)

Just as Levi’s 501 jeans and Adidas track suits and Lacoste tennis shirts have all learned a thing or two about the ebb and flow of a finicky phenomenon called “retro,” Dr Martens will probably learn the hard way that what goes around comes around and then it has to leave again.

It can take a page from Puma, Dr. Scholl’s, Clarks or Hush Puppies any number of footwear brands that clung to a core market in wan times and are once or twice thrown back into hipster consciousness for a wild ride.

Inasmuch as it’s a story about one business hitting a slump, the Doc Martens falloff is a larger tale about a philosophy of life being in trouble. Decades never quite begin and end according to the calendar, yet there is delayed evidence that the ’90s are over: planes hit skyscrapers, Internet whiz kids are moving back into their parents’ houses, and nobody is rich anymore except the rich.

And Doc Martens, as we knew them, are passe.

Shoes are small now. There is daintiness, color, whimsical shapes yes, in the men’s department, too.

It all began when Klaus Maertens, a German medical doctor, injured a foot skiing in the Bavarian Alps. Recuperating, Maertens and engineer Herbert Funck designed an air sole shoe to take the load off. They marketed the shoe locally, and eventually sold the patent to R. Griggs Co., shoemakers of London. The first pair of black boots with the thick, patented, heat sealed sole and distinctive yellow stitching were made in 1960.

After that, no marketing plan could have intuited the slow path to high fashion that the boots took. London Mods wore them, and so did the police officers who chased their scooters. The first punks wore them, and so did the skinheads. The ska bands wore them, and the Goth kids wore them. The second coming of punk wore them (or wore the Converse All Star sneaker, now no longer made in America but in China), and the widely defined “grunge/alternative” universe heat sealed the shoe’s fate. By then, a pair of boots cost $120 or more, millions and millions were sold, and there’s not much punk about that. In everyone’s rush to be alternative, the Dr Martens lost its angry credibility.

But Bobbie Parisi isn’t about to give up.

She describes the new Dr Martens campaign and talks about some of the new sandals. The soles are about one quarter of the thickness of the old Dr Martens sole, she says. A kicky pair of thong sandals craftily incorporates the logo seen on the loop on the back of the original 1460 boot, “and there are lots of colors.”
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dr marten boots ladies Do you know who heads the Vodafone account at Ogilvy

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We mean, on the creative front. After Rajiv Rao quit the agency last year, the Vodafone business fell onto this gentleman’s shoulders.

To say Kiran Antony, 40, is a man of few words would be an understatement. Much like his creative predecessor, he is media shy, low profile and quiet, but heads the most high profile, high decibel and media prolific telecom businesses out there. Meet the man who has been running the Vodafone account at Ogilvy India for the past five months.

In July last year, Ogilvy India announced former national creative director Rajiv Rao’s exit from the agency; after spending 18 years at the agency, Rao, credited with cracking the famous Zoozoo campaign for Vodafone, went on to pursue ad film direction. Since then, Antony has taken over the reins of the account. We profiled the executive creative director’s journey so far.

Kiran Antony

Antony has been with Ogilvy India for 17 years. This is his first advertising job; he was an engineer before that. Prior to joining Ogilvy, he worked with a company (that builds machines) called Mechelonic Engineers for two years as a software engineer. He got his engineering degree from the Government Engineering College, Thrissur. We would have linked this profile to his LinkedIn page. except, Antony doesn’t have one. We happen to know he loves cooking, long drives, swimming, and playing badminton. and is passionate about sports in general.

When he joined Ogilvy India in 2001, he handled the Mid Day business. At the time, the creatives for this account were mostly print ads. So when did he enter the Vodafone (or Hutch, at the time) team? It was only in 2002 that he started working on the Hutch business, we learned during the course of a recent interview with Antony at the agency’s Mumbai office where he is based. that is to come up with ideas,” Antony tells afaqs!. About working with Rao, he adds, “I would give my ideas and obviously, Rajiv would add his thoughts and inputs. I learnt quite a lot. Sometimes you feel, after a certain number of years, you are ‘there’ and have the maturity to understand that the idea is good, but when you take that idea to Rajiv, he will have a completely different spin on it. You think your idea is great and then Rajiv would tweak it in a way that turned an average film into a good film. Rajiv always urged us to keep thinking till the film is shot. And sometimes, even beyond. I can never forget his famous words ‘Hard work never killed anyone’.”

Antony is quick to add that the inputs of Prakash Varma (director of Vodafone ads) helped heaps in this good to great process. “I have been part of almost every Vodafone shoot,” Antony smiles.

So, how has life changed post Rao’s exit? “Life has not changed much. My job is to wake up every day and ensure my team and I come up with good ideas that strengthen and build the brand. I have to continuously drive new age thinking and ideating on the brand,” says Antony, adding, “I do miss having Rajiv around, but I put to practice all that I learned from him over these years.”

When it comes to its media presence, Vodafone has given its consumers some memorable mascots; after the pug campaign, we saw the Zoozoo splash and most recently, the adorable Dhananjayans. Does a successful legacy put pressure on Antony? “There is always scope for bettering your work. The first time when the boy dog film (Hutch) came out, we all thought that no other film would ever better this film. But then came the Zoozoos and then Super Zoozoos, Zumis, Asha Bala and so on. This brand truly values creativity, it’s the reason why there is always magic waiting to happen.” he says, insisting that records always get broken.

About the handover process when Rao decided to move out of the system, Antony recalls, “It has been smooth. I have been working closely with Rajiv for over 17 years, right from our Orange/Hutch days. In the last few years, with Rajiv’s mentoring, I have been leading the integrated Vodafone team (advertising and digital). So, there has never been a formal handover process. There is no question of fitting into his shoes. They are too large to fill. I am happy to now have the opportunity to build on everything he helped create.”

Apart from his first account, Mid Day and his pet account Vodafone, Antony has worked on brands like Ceat, Federal Bank, IBM, Titan, Future Group, and Star Sports. Although 90 per cent of his time is dedicated to Vodafone, he gives 10 per cent of his time to make the one off film for his other clients, we learn. All our ads are different. ‘Lookup’ (digital campaign done a few months back) is a completely different story. Many mini products are involved and work on all these various parts is completely different. With Vodafone, it’s more like many brands in one. All our ads are different, yet the tone is the same,” he adds.

So why does the Vodafone account need so much attention? Antony says, “Vodafone is such a big account it needs your full attention. There is firefighting going on something or the other every day. Every circle (state) will have a different talk time/data plan, offers, festival ads, so we have our circle offices doing the work, but it all gets streamlined here, via the central team in Mumbai. We do quite a lot of films, but along with that, there are a lot of other things that go on to complete the communication. So besides mainstream, BTL and on ground, we have plenty happening on the internet. With close to 90 million subscribers on the Vodafone Zoozoo page, we have to keep the engagement going with posts, stories, contests, etc. It’s safe to say, there is never a dull day at Vodafone.”

Speaking of the Zoozoos, some are of the opinion that Vodafone overdid it with this theme. Shouldn’t brands keep an end date in mind when launching a new mascot? What’s the challenge? Antony says, “You need to keep refreshing the ideas. If you take the Zoozoos, for example, we had the original Zoozoo then after a year and a half, we brought in the Super Zoozoo he was Zoozoo in a superhero avatar. It was much more active, energetic, fun, and entertaining than the previous one. Then we got the little ones, the Zumies. Although, for the common man, it is still the Zoozoo. but still, it is a different flavour. So we need to keep improvising. Even Asha Bala ads were all set up in Goa, so this time around, we took them abroad. Next time we may just do something different with them.”

About his plans for this account in the days ahead, Antony says, “TV will continue to play a big role for us. Through the Lookup campaign, we went online and asked people to go offline to take a break from their phones and spend time with their loved ones instead. We started off by creating the ‘Vodafone Phone Valet’ at a restaurant where diners were given the option to leave their phones with the valet and enjoy their meal/conversation, without being interrupted by the phone. We captured their reactions at the end of the night and compiled it as a video to inspire others to Lookup. We followed it up with Lookup films for Father’s day and Friendship Day with close to 60 million views. And you will see more Lookup activation/films in the coming months. It’s not a one off; it’s a philosophy.”

In the months ahead, we expect Vodafone’s ads to reflect a certain signature an Antony special flavour if you will. “Honestly, I am not as big as Rajiv to add my flavour to Vodafone,” signs off an ever so humble Antony, whose favourite Zoozoo ads are the Stock Exchange and Super Zoozoo films. Of course, the recent films that feature the Dhananjayans (Asha and Bala) also make the list.
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What if a shadowy organization told you it had been quietly keeping its eye on you and had concluded that you were exactly the sort of person who should be privy to its secrets for wealth and power?

What if that organization promised the success and youthful vitality of investment guru Warren Buffett and Viacom chief Sumner Redstone, who already possess these secrets?

“I’d think it was a scam,” said Los Angeles resident Jim York, 60, who recently received a 10 page letter from a recruiter identifying himself only as Bill.

The organization, which calls itself the Society, is a front for an Ayn Rand inspired movement that’s been around since the 1980s under various guises, including Neo Tech, Neothink, Nouveau Tech and Novatech.

The founder of Neo Tech, Frank R. He died in 2006 at age 73.

But his you can do it notions and marketing techniques live on.

The letter received by York represents one of the more elaborate sales pitches I’ve encountered. At 10 pages in length, it’s nothing if not ambitious.

And its contents, with repeated references to York by first name and suggestions of intimate knowledge of his doings, reflect a hard sell aggressiveness that make uber huckster Ron Popeil seem shy by comparison.

York’s letter informs him that he’s “been on our radar for quite some time.”

“It’s our business to keep tabs on people. Not for nefarious purposes. But we like to add to our ranks so we can get even stronger,” the letter states.

Bill, the recruiter, observes that York is a chip off the old block.

All he has to do is mail the Society’s “membership invitation certificate” to a Dallas post office box or fax it to a Dallas phone number, and he’ll receive a free copy of the group’s secrets.

According to the letter, these include how to make tons of money, seduce whomever you choose, boost your intelligence, get others to like you, beat the odds at poker and lose as much weight as you desire.

Pretty great secrets, right? And not at all the sorts of things that seem designed to catch the fancy of self esteem challenged introverts desperate for a sense of popularity and belonging.

The Internet is dripping with comments from people who have received identical letters. But it’s no easy task to find the people behind the Society. That Dallas address and fax number, for example, are a blind alley. They’re for a Texas company that handles the group’s correspondence.

It took some digging, but I was finally able to track down a man who goes by the pseudonym of Mark Hamilton but who is actually the son of Neo Tech’s founder. He operates out of Henderson, Nev.

Hamilton, 55, acknowledged being the current torch bearer for the Neo Tech movement and the source of the Society letters, which he admitted are sales pitches that lead to people receiving free pamphlets that spell out Neo Tech ideas in greater detail.

The pamphlets, in turn, are intended to draw people into spending $135.50 for a 1,200 page manuscript Hamilton wrote that he described as “faction mixing fact with fiction.” He said that, like his father, he was strongly inspired by Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged.”

I asked if sending people a 10 page letter purporting to be an invitation to join a super secret organization is the most honest way of selling a book.

“This is our business model,” Hamilton replied. “This is how we sell them.”

I asked if he was comfortable with saying in the letter that he would “share the secrets of the Society with you absolutely free!”

Hamilton acknowledged that full access to the Society’s secrets will cost $135.50 not to mention additional charges for other works but he said the movement’s “main secret” was included in the free pamphlet.

What is it? Hamilton said it’s the secret of self leadership. He described it as knowing how not to be a follower but to instead take the initiative and “forge your own path.”

What about the letter’s claim that only a “select few” are worthy of membership in the Society? Hamilton admitted that about 200,000 copies of the letter are mailed out each year, but he said recipients were carefully chosen from mailing lists obtained by his company, Neo Tech Publishing.

For example, he said, a person who subscribes to Forbes or Fortune magazines and who also has ordered a copy of Rand’s “The Fountainhead” from the Book of the Month Club all data that Neo Tech has access to would be deemed a prime candidate to receive the Society’s letter.

He said the Society now has “a few hundred thousand” members who convene from time to time to share their plans for fame and fortune. But even though Buffett and Redstone are mentioned prominently in the Society’s letter, Hamilton said neither man is a member of the group.
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