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The Brand

CHAPTER 9. PT 2: FROM THESE MUDDY PASTURES

Due to the frequent mud-baths that modern-day festivals create, Dr. Martens have become a staple item of any festival-goer’s bag for the weekend. In the late ’80s in the UK, when the so-called Grebo scene was dominating the alternative, Reading Festival was awash with both mud and 1460s. Similarly in 1992, when Nirvana played the same festival, a generation of Grunge kids paraded their eight-holers in similar quantities. As the thousands of kids trudged home, with their boots spattered in mud and their hands full of flyers, they did not know that this was the last time Kurt Cobain and Nirvana would ever perform in England.  
 
Alan Miller is the founder of Culture Collide festivals (as well as the COLLiDE creative agency and Travel With Purpose magazine) and spoke on the relationship between festivals and Dr. Martens. ‘Over the last fifteen years festivals have popped up almost everywhere. The best of them focus on a unique aspect of local culture and give fans a chance to actually see bands become great. Young people today identify themselves with which fest they attend. Someone who goes to Ultra is different to a person who goes to Coachella, Lollapalooza and the countless others. It’s how we earn our stripes.’ 
 
boots in mud 
 
Alan agrees that Dr. Martens are a central feature of festival culture all over the world: ‘In the ’80s, attending school, everyone had their pair. It was quite cool to have them. Being pre-internet, everyone had a different story about what they meant to them and why they were wearing them. We all knew they were from England and that just made them even cooler. I think the reason Dr. Martens struck such a chord with festival-goers was because there are not many brands that speak to different genres of music at the same time. So many trends focus on one segment of music and burn out once that fad has dissipated. Speaking to different creatives has kept Dr. Martens relevant. I still have my first pair of Dr. Martens. They are black, square-toed and rad.’ 
 
Every year, millions of people are fully prepared to face the annual onslaught of mud baths and long toilet queues, simply because the festival weekend has a cherished place in music and subculture; indeed, attending your first festival has become a rite of passage for millions of people worldwide.  Just make sure you pack your Dr. Martens.