Claire Hailwood has found that her favourite boots have some surprising connections with her faith and maybe yours?
I decided to follow Jesus after I had time with a group of slightly older teenagers / young adults that culminated in a Christian festival that we attended together. Although I’d grown up around church I’d never been around peers (or nearly peers) who were so passionate about their faith and whose life was and had been so evidently impacted by their personal relationship with Jesus. That summer, their influence changed the course of my life forever and I’m eternally grateful for them.
There were some other things, of less importance, that influenced me that summer too, namely, it was the first time I became aware of Dr Martens. Not the ‘sliding into your’ kind, but the brand Dr Martens (AKA Doc Martens), particularly (for me) the boots. Lots of those in this group wore them and of secondary importance to the relationship with Jesus that began, a decades long love of DMs began too!
The following year I returned to the festival proudly wearing my own pair, and like many others, had them customised with some beautiful floral painting (embracing my foray into being a bit of a hippy!)
That pair lasted me to university and although my love for the floral customisation passed and I passed them on, the DMs as a brand became part of my life!
A few years ago, I got my third ever pair for Christmas as a surprise from my husband and I was delighted. I spent a lot of time telling anyone who would listen how much I loved that I could wear them with a dress, joggers, jeans or leggings.
As a brand they seem to have lasted and remained as popular as ever, remaining true to their core - the boots I received for Christmas a few years ago are almost the same as the first pair I bought. And along the way they have responded to popular culture in a way that means they’re still completely recognisable but also culturally relevant.
Their latest offering are limited edition mad max and blade runner editions created to pay homage to the film, picking up symbols in a way that will delight fans, whilst remaining recognisably DM boots.
Many brands have come and gone in the nearly 80 years of Dr Marten’s history - so what makes this one last? What gives this and other brands longevity and does it matter?
To answer the second question first, there are (obviously) more important questions to consider for sure, but it is interesting to reflect on and wonder about how a brand becomes synonymous with quality, popular culture and style (whether it’s your personal preference or not).
I’m a complete outsider and have to acknowledged bias that I enjoy many of the products associated with the brand, but it seems to me that while responding to cultural moments, DMs have remained largely the same since the beginning. There’s something reassuring about the DM - you know what you’re getting, the shape, style, quality and the sorts of cultural associations it’ll have.
Although DMs and my walk with Jesus have a close connection in my mind, I’m not going to shoehorn (excuse the pun) in any suggestion that they’re holier shoes than any others! But something about their consistency does provoke reflection in me. What if Christian’s and the church were consistently known for good things? What if, a little like the DM (last time I promise), they were known for a pursuit of the same things year on year, decade on decade? What if, in all our differences as Christians (many to be celebrated), we were known for a love for Jesus that impacted the world around us for good, consistently, across cultures and communities?
That’s the kind of impact I want to have and I recognise that that means there’s some continuing ‘working out of my salvation’ that I need to do to be someone who consistently, with integrity shows up in any and every context.