Image: fotografierende/ Wikimedia Commons
Image: fotografierende/ Wikimedia Commons

These boots were made for working: 60 years of Dr Martens

A good pair of shoes is the foundation for looking stylish without trying too hard. Shoes are like a fashion shortcut; something that you don’t have to think too much about but that can still have a big impact, even simply on your posture or the way that you walk. If you care about fashion then you should care about shoes, and if you don’t care about fashion but occasionally want to seem as if you do – then you should pay even more attention to what you put on your feet.

Out of all the shoes out there, Dr Martens have always held a special place in my heart, and I’m definitely not alone. Dr Martens is currently celebrating the 60th anniversary of their iconic 1460 design. Although they make hundreds of different styles of shoes, when someone refers to Dr Martens or Docs as they are often called, the classic 1460 boot is almost always what they mean.

Suddenly Dr Martens were everywhere in British youth culture

They were originally created as a comfortable, affordable boot for workers such as postmen, policemen, and underground workers. However, despite their origins as a working-class symbol, over the years they were adopted by a wide range of different youth movements.

Beginning in the 1960’s, skinhead subcultures brought Dr Martens into the limelight. Unfortunately, this also meant that they were associated with extremist right-wing groups.

Thankfully, the connection between Dr Martens and fascism was weakened when a very different group began to wear them in the 70s, as punk swept the nation. Bands like The Clash and The Sex Pistols wore them on stage, and suddenly Dr Martens were everywhere in British youth culture.

I still regret not buying my favourite ever style

Their popularity exploded, and the 70s punk era is still what many people envision when they picture Dr Martens today. In the 90s, Dr Martens were adopted by fans of grunge, and they had another upsurge of popularity, before this declined again in the early 2000s.

Although Dr Martens have faded in and out of mainstream British fashion, they never really went away in certain subcultures. Those who identify as goths always maintained their love of Docs when the rest of Britain started to wear trainers again.

More recently, Dr Martens began selling more colourful versions of the classic boots through collaborations with prominent artists and designers, and this caused them to enter the mainstream fashion world again.

They allow for so much self-expression

Every year new designs are added as some of the old ones cease production, and this can make them feel a little more special, but at the same time I still regret not buying my favourite ever style – the ceramic pottery themed ones in 2015.

The fact that docs are so unique and attention-grabbing isn’t the only reason that I’m so attached to these shoes. Part of it is to do with the fact that, although Doc Martens are extremely comfortable once they’ve been worn for a while, breaking them in is often a painful process and occasionally embarrassing. I’ll never forget the time my feet started bleeding all over the National Portrait Gallery while on a date.

Docs are so resilient in the world of fashion because they allow for so much self-expression. People can just take them and do anything they want with them. Sometimes, in a world of ad campaigns and Instagram influencers, it feels nice to be reminded that, at the end of the day, you can wear whatever you want.

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