Teenage Kicks

Our key note talk this week was about the cultural biography of an object and I actually found this talk to be one of the best so far.

Cath spoke about Dr.Martens and how the shoes had cultural specific meanings depending on the way they were styled and the way they were worn. The talk was showing us how one item could have many different meanings depending on how they were shown which is true to a lot of art and items, for example the phone was once used just contact people but it can now be used to listen to music, check emails etc.

Miley Cyrus was one of the examples Cath used to show how Dr.Martens could be worn. In Miley’s Wrecking Ball video she wears Dr.Martens in the style of skinheads around the 1970s giving the shoes and new lease of life and meaning.


Original worn as work shoes the skinheads adopted the shoes as it was seen as antifashion and worked alongside .their culture and beliefs as a group. The skinheads used to customise their Dr.Martens depending on what gang they belonged to, some tied their shoe laces round there ankles, some did the boots right up and some drew all over their shoes.

The way that Dr.Martens evolved changed the company and they now want you to customise their shoes calling them a “Platform not a finished product”.

I never really thought about how an item varies can change it’s meaning and identity but I suppose a lot of gangs not only wear the same types of clothes but also the way they are worn also producing the final gang look.

Giving items new meaning is a really interesting idea and shows that any item can mean something completely different depending on the eye of the beholder. Everything we draw and create belongs to a wider context culturally.


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