i remember my first pair. i was of the tender age of 15, the year was 1992, i listened to the smiths, suede, depeche mode and happy mondays, and the most exciting thing in my life was seeing the cure play live at the hockey stadium in helsinki. shoegazing required the right shoes. they were black, soft cap, 10-eye wonders that ripped my heels apart and created permanent calluses on my big toes. i wore them with over-the-knee socks and shorts, leggings and long loose flowery dresses. they got lost somewhere after the britpop scene evaporated in the late nineties.
my second pair, acquired soon after the first, was steel cap and i wore them to pieces. after they were found in the storage a couple of years ago it was clear they had been the object of passionate love: the inner soles were molded and bumpy and the leather was torn. they were thrown out a few months ago by my sweetie who has the ability to do things i dare not.
in my adolescence i was temporarily unfaithful and strayed towards a pair of underground boots. their toes pointed arrogantly towards the sky and there were 16 eyes to tie. my frivolous relationship didn't last and i sold them soon after to someone who felt more at home with them. i think she was a goth. gdmn.
i left my boots at home with my parents as i moved out. but like every fashion love of past, they came full circle to remind me of my youth and in 2006 i bought a new pair. it turned out too small, went unworn for a full year until i sold it to a friend and got another, metallic blue pair that has started to fit my feet like a glove. since then there has been an addition of a white pair, a serious consideration for a black, lizard print pair and a hunt for a limited edition grey version.
despite having fans merely because of trends and fads, just like tatty converse, dr. martens are classics that speak loads about their wearer. i have friends who hunt for the originals, still manufactured in england because nothing else will do – even for their children. some of my acquaintances adhere to careful tending routines to keep theirs pristine. many hold beliefs about correct lacing techniques. i still lace mine as i was taught by a teenage crush but, against the grain, let them age as they are. no polish, no oils, nothing. still they hold their grace.
this year dr martens turns 50 years. in celebration they have collaborated with 10 artists to record a version of a classic song to represent the fans of dr martens. they have, in part, collaborated with 10 directors to create videos for the songs. they will be released throughout the year, but there are already three brilliant tracks online.
here's one that speaks straight to my teenage self.
here's the full list with release dates.