Tuesday, 10 February 2015

Dr. Martens Love

I have been meaning to do a post on Dr. Martens for some time; not only is the company's history rich and compelling in itself, but the brand too has personal significance in many of its customers lives. As a seven year old, I remember with clarity looking down at my year two teacher's shoes: the yellow stitching and air padded soles- and being struck by their idiosyncrasy and eccentricity. Every other faculty member adhered to a uniform, namely kitten heels, flats et al. Ms Traynor was a strong adherent to the Dr Martens ethos: one which is at odds with the homogeny most characteristic of modern society.

Whilst such sartorial protestation was lost on me at 7, I now realise the impact that our clothes or more aptly, our choices with regards to our clothes, can have not only on other people's perceptions of us, but also our perception of ourselves. Dr Martens have been distinct in my life in that they serve so "many me's:" the school girl in her Mary-Janes, the 16 year old (wannabe) anarchist in her purple 1460s and the literature student in her black patent 1461s. How many other brands appeal to so much of ourselves?

Inspired originally by the standard issue army boots of World War II, Klaus Märtens improved the shoe to meet his needs post injury. By 1947, the shoe was a resounding success with housewives whom were responsible for 80% of the brand's sales. Had my love for the brand not already been deep-rooted, this fact may have come as a revelation; when one thinks of housewives in an era fast approaching the conservative 1950s, (a decade which the archetypal Dr Martens customer protested in the 70s and 80s) images of housewives sporting such nonconformist footwear does not spring to mind. And that's it, that's the thing with Dr Martens...it has been there for 70 years helping all of us to conform as nonconformists and I think we need that now, more than ever.