IN DEPTH: Dr Martens blasts 'shrink it & pink it' approach to women's PPE

Women having to stuff tissue into the toes of workboots to make them fit is clearly a hazardous and ridiculous state of affairs for the industrial footwear sector to be in. Happily, a number of brands are remedying the situation, including Dr. Martens…

How many women, out shopping for a new wardrobe for the office, would venture into a men’s shoe shop and settle for a pair of lace up brogues in a size small enough to fit their feet comfortably? It sounds like a crazy scenario, when we know there are 100s of fashion brands offering shoes that are designed and styled to suit and fit women’s feet.

This is an everyday experience for most women working in industry jobs (such as building sites or factories) where their feet need to be protected from possible injury. Rather than footwear designed to meet their size and shape, women are, too often, offered small size men’s clothing and footwear that are ill‐fitting, uncomfortable and potentially hazardous.

Footwear brand Dr. Martens recognised this as a serious issue for many working women. Through a social media campaign with online publication for professional women in industry, Womanthology, Dr. Martens discovered that the issue of badly fitting PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) continues to be a real issue. Many readers tweeted their experiences of having to make serious adjustments to men’s size coveralls to prevent tripping up and stuffing tissue into the toes of their workboots in an attempt to get them to fit. Dr. Martens acknowledged that the modern workplace is a constant challenge – individual and team performance rely on having the right tools for the job, and quality safety footwear is one of those.

Jon Marchant, Global Category Director at Dr. Martens, began developing a women’s line of safety boots in response to the growing numbers of women working in industry who deserve comfortable, high quality and safe footwear. “Manual work isn’t just a ‘man’ thing,” Marchant says, “it’s an ‘us’ thing and we want to champion women in industry and offer them footwear that fits correctly and keeps them safe at work.

“I’ve been shocked by the typical ‘shrink it and pink it’ approach to women’s fit PPE and the feedback we have from talking to many women is that they don’t want to be treated differently but with respect for the job they are doing and with their safety and comfort in mind.”

So, in early 2018, Dr. Martens launched its own industrial Women’s Collection, giving women a choice of protection, style and comfort with no compromise on quality or safety. The strength of Dr. Martens’ fashion business influenced and guided the way the collection was designed. Marchant continues: “First, we started with the right shape. We developed a women’s specific ‘last’ (the foot model that gives the length, width, in‐step and overall foot volume) and then re‐engineered the shape of our SoftWair sock‐liner that gives underfoot airflow and great cushioning at the forefoot and heel.

“We think the collection is a real game‐changer for the industry. Women demand and should expect the same level of comfort and protection as any man in the workplace, if they’re serious about their job, then they will also be serious about their choice of footwear.”

Dr. Martens has a heritage of shoe‐making expertise ensuring that durability, protection and performance remains the clear focus within the safety footwear offering. With the introduction of its Women’s Industrial collection, it has introduced iconic styling to a range of work boots that deliver maximum safety functionality for all women in the workplace.