Constellation – Teenage Kicks 13/11/14

Today, our first lecture was on cultural approaches to Dr Martins boots and changes overtime.

  • How to make meanings (a cultural approach)
  • How concepts can be applied to your work

Dr Martin Boots – 1460’s


Connotations change over time, identify symbolic meanings embedded

Cultural approaches to material & visual culture

Concept: The cultural biography of things (Kopytoff 1986)

Culturally constructed entity endowed with culturally specific meanings

How to indentify cultural markers

  • investigate its status within different periods & cultures
  • Investigate its production process – who made it? & why?
  • what roll has it played at different stages of its career?
  • why has its usage changed over time?

(on trend) Grazia 2013 : Dr Martins have returned – image of Miley Cyrus (pop star) wearing Oxblood Dr Martins not tied up in a similar way to the skinhead gang of the 60’s – we discussed how the way Dr Martins were worn could give someone a certain personality, mostly due to the mods and skinheads of the 60’s.


Originally Dr. Martins were created for the public service workers for example Police officers, Postal workers because of the shoes durability, comfort and air ware sole – they were NOT  a fashionable item of clothing and that’s precisely why the mods and the skinheads of the 60’s wanted them. Youth street gangs were anti-fashion, the alternative kids that were buying the opposition to mainstream, they became part of the look (to be a real skin head you had to have docs) Docs soon had this name of being a violent footwear, looking at the film This Is England where skin heads and football hooligans all wore Docs – Violent Connotations


Customization of the Dr. Martins – Adapting the original Design.

Skin heads: male and female (creating a new gender dynamic) wore them – Brown, Black polish smeared to antique them, oversized, worn with laces passed through the heel tag around the leg, with quarters flapping open. The Docs were seen as a blank canvas for youths to make their own. (similar to the way Miley Cyrus wore them on wrecking ball image)

Customization & identify formation: Individuality in relation to the object/brand. Its a statement about you and how you want others to perceive you. Self fashioning, making you in control. A social performance. Its more than just a function object – some people even do research on how to wear them depending on how they want others to see them.

Cultural connotations : anti-fashion /rebellious

problematic because of the violence that came with the gangs that wore Dr. Martins , many rules against the wearing on doc martins like before entering a football stadium you couldn’t wear them and had to leave them outside to reduce violence.


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18 years old, first year fine art student in Cardiff :)

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