11 November 2010
10 November 2010
Klaus Märtens was a doctor in the German army during World War II. While on leave in 1945, he injured his ankle while skiing in theBavarian Alps. He found that his standard-issue army boots were too uncomfortable on his injured foot. While recuperating, he designed improvements to the boots, with soft leather and air-padded soles. When the war ended and some Germans looted valuables from their own cities, Märtens took leather from a cobbler's shop. With that leather he made himself a pair of boots with air-cushioned soles.
Märtens didn't have much luck selling his shoes until he met up with an old university friend, Dr. Herbert Funck, in Munich in 1947. Funck was intrigued by the new shoe design, and the two went into business that year in Seeshaupt, Germany, using discarded rubber fromLuftwaffe airfields. The comfortable and durable soles were a big hit with housewives, with 80% of sales in the first decade going to women over the age of 40.