How many women, when 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, since we know there are 100s of fashion brands offering shoes that are designed and styled to suit and fit women’s feet. But this is an everyday experience for most women working in an industry where their feet need to be protected from possible injury.
Rather than footwear designed to meet their size and shape, women are usually offered small size men’s clothing and footwear that are ill-fitting, uncomfortable and potentially hazardous.
Dr. Martens recognised this as a serious issue for many working women. Through a social media campaign, with an online publication for professional women in industry called 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 work boots 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. He comments: “Manual work isn’t just a ‘man’ thing, 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. They want to be treated with respect for the job they are doing and with their safety and comfort in mind.”
As well as employers supplying female staff members with appropriate footwear, Dr. Martens also wants to encourage advice and specialist tips at point of sale to women in industry on the types of work boots available to them. This would help raise awareness that they don’t need to suffer with insufficient footwear.
In response, Dr. Martens launched its own industrial Women’s Collection last year, giving women a choice of protection, style and comfort with no compromise on quality or safety.
Jon 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). Then, we re-engineered the shape of our SoftWair sock-liner that gives underfoot airflow and 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.”