Pete Townshend of The Who said that he used to go to bed on tour with two things: ‘A cognac bottle and a Dr. Martens boot.' The invention and design of the boot came about in the 50s, the result of the German shoemaker Dr. Maertens’ ski accident (he just wanted a cushioned sole) and his history-changing partnership with the Griggs family of Northampton, England. Initially worn by factory workers, policemen and the like, it was picked up by the skinhead in the 60s as a symbol of working class pride. So what began as reliable working men’s footwear then became an emblem of freedom, rebellion, individuality and empowerment.
What a shoe.
I bought my first pair of Dr. Martens about six years ago from a boutique for $30. They’re a black T-bar cut-out sandal (the first pair featured in the photo). Since I am an Australian size 11, finding shoes to fit me had always been a nightmare and wearing men’s shoes from Target didn’t help my teenage awkwardness. Those docs thrilled me. Not because of what they represented, but because they were a women’s shoe and they fit me. They were my only pair for five years. When I first started dating my boyfriend a year ago, he let me borrow his cherry red Dr. Marten boots. Fearing he’d never get them back, he went on ebay and got me a pair of my own. And so it began.
My obsession with dresses took a backseat as I scoured the internet for Dr. Martens. I now have eight pairs and I can’t say the drive for more has abated. If anything, it’s increased.
Picture yourself in town on a Saturday night. If you’re like me and you live in Adelaide, Australia, you’ll be picturing Hindley Street. It’s 4am, Jive is shut for the night and your next thought is for the taxi rank. The night air is cool but your skin is tingling with the buzz of the cider, Yager bombs and Sambucca shots you downed earlier. As you join the end of the line at the taxi rank, you realise that the women before you are holding their heels in their hands. A sad row of blackened, blistered bitumen feet stretch out before you. But you smile. Because you’re wearing Air Wair Dr. Martens, a symbol of freedom and empowerment. You don’t look worn out, defeated by hours of dancing. You look ready to start a revolution. And no-one dare pick a fight with you, because you’ll take them down with boots that have been at the frontline of every major youth rebellion since the 60s.
Take that, bitches.