The new Dr. Martens campaign #WORNDIFFERENT sends a clear message. It reminds us all that the iconic boots, which returned on the fashion scene a few years ago, have no intention to become démodé anytime soon. If in the 70’s, their fortune was picked up by the punk movement, now, the shoe seems fully entitled as an indispensable piece in numerous people’s daily wear. 

The longevity of Dr. Martens, is due to some inner undeniable qualities that transcend the fact that they are worn by “cool kids” (even though that helps). Dr. Martens are objectively strong, resistant and simple enough in their design to be extremely versatile. I have been a Dr. Martens wearer myself for five years, and I swear I have mistreated my boots to the point I was positively surprised they were still in one piece. They have been to concerts, dinners, parties; walked for miles; dived into the dirt of clubs’ floors; climbed rocks on the Australian coast line; endured several festivals out in the wild. They have even survived a few high-waters days in Venice, and after all of this, have just a little hole on the tip.

The #WORNDIFFERENT campaign, created by ODD media for Dr. Martens, wants to say: look at how differently we can be used, at how many different people wear us for different purposes. According to ODD, what sets it apart from previous Dr. Martens’ campaigns is that it doesn’t focus on one single story or individual, but on collective stories and unique characters that have been wearing DM's for decades, especially now that the brand has expanded and offers many different shapes and models.

  Dr Martens

Dr Martens

One of the key words of the campaign is ‘diversity’, at which I am sure some of you are going to cringe— I do. The word ‘diversity’ is being used and abused all over the media and far beyond the fashion world. Let’s face it— sometimes we just want to shout out how having two models of different ethnicities in a video, is not enough for it to be a piece about ‘diversity’. In this case though, Dr. Martens has a few good arguments. Taking the word in its fullest meaning, it is true that these boots, with their unmistakable yellow tag on the back, have been used by quite a diverse range of people ranging from very diverse environments.

A sign of its long, norm-kicking and style-making history its ‘AirWair’ tag. That’s pretty much where it all began. In 1945, Dr. Klaus Maertens, a 25-year-old soldier, was happily unaware he was to trigger the creation of the punk movement’s most famous shoes. The young German soldier, pushed by his broken foot that needed to heal, was trying to find an alternative to the rigid leather soles that were typically used in boots at the time. What Maertens created was air-cushioned soles, branded as ‘AirWair’. The ground-breaking novelty was picked up by the Griggs company, run by the third generation of shoe-makers in Wallaston, Newampshire, England. The yellow stitches and yellow tag were added to the Grigg’s boots models and in 1960, the first Dr. Martens was born. A durable boot for hard working people: policeman, mailmen, and factory workers were the very first Dr. Martens’ wearers.

That’s where the “cool kids” come into the story. Rebellious young destroyers (and creators) adopted the Dr. Martens’ boots as part of the ‘poor is cool’ trend, which brought the poorest classes of society— the ones really living the streets and the bars, working hard, inhabiting the ferment of the new industrial areas of the big cities —into the spotlight. The rapid escalation to iconic status, granted the Dr. Martens’ boots a secure place in the history of subcultures and styles.

With #WORNDIFFERENT there is this and there is also the present. Singers, writers, activists, musicians and athletes of all kind, shapes and colours are the stars of the campaign. People from all over the world wear Dr. Martens for multiple reasons. Today, Dr. Martens is embracing another perspective, one that wants to take some distance from the High-Street trend it has become— the one of a worldwide famous boot, that should be looked at for its design, as much as its utility; that should be used, lived, destroyed by people who wear them every day and just do their thing.

Just how many different things you can do with a pair of Dr. Martens?

Marina Dora Martino