There has been a real buzz in the air lately with Dr Martens opening their first official store her in Belfast. On Thursday evening they celebrated their official launch in true Dr Marten’s style. Situated in Cornmarket, the store showcases the original aesthetic of subcultural footwear styles but now is boasting a wider range of products to suit the more discerning customer. The store itself is a testament to quirky London boutiques, the kind you’d find on Brick Lane or in the heart of Camden. With exposed brick on the interiors, graffiti artwork and an original Jukebox upstairs, the store is as quirky and original as the shoes themselves.
The launch night had a great atmosphere, with each guest as they entered being asked to sum up Belfast in one word. A mural which graces the staircase was left unfinished, and then the best word chosen would be filled in by the artist on the night. The word chosen was ‘Defiance’, which I agree perfectly sums up Belfast as a once struggling danger-zone which is now growing into a creative hub for Northern Ireland. The Dr Marten brand is a culture in itself, and the atmosphere at the launch felt like a family reunion (as cheesy as that sounds!) being surrounded by a bunch of creative who unite over their love of great footwear.
The food was provided by Love & Death Belfast and was delicious- an array of pulled pork, BBQ mini burgers and gourmet curry pots all washed down by a delicious Coleraine brewed beer called ‘Farmegeddon’, which matched the quirky edibles on offer.
Terry Hooley, the Belfast based punk icon who rose to fame in the 70s with his record shop Good Vibrations- provided a music set which blasted punk classics into the store. A live rock band also featured alongside. The staff in store were kept on their feet most of night and were fantastic in dealing with the 50% off promotion they had running. Half price for Dr Martens was such a generous promotion- to give all the guests a chance to choose first hand from the wide range of products on offer. I of course had to pick something, and purchased a pair of Flora black Chelsea Boots (shoeaholic).
What is also fantastic about having an official Dr Martens store is the clothes they have on offer. All with a typical punk/skinhead edge- the clothes are great quality and are made to be worn with attitude. From Button down collar check shirts, bomber jackets, ditzy print dresses and beautiful black leather belts- the whole range of clothes and accessories perfectly compliment the footwear. And if you’re thinking you don’t suit chunky docs, fear not. The new range of Dr Martens has a style to suit everyone. From the classic punk style boots available in every colour, the new range features more subtle styles reinvented, even the city banker can get away wearing a pair of Dr Marten brogues with just a hint of the classic tough leather and bouncing sole- a discrete nod to self-expression.
The launch brought together a bunch of dapper chaps and quirky girls- me managed to get a few snaps on the evening. I was asked as I left the launch to do a quick interview on camera to sum up what I stood for and what I thought of the launch party. What I stand for of course being Dr Marten’s latest campaign focusing on individuality and freedom of expression. I basically told them that nothing is ever just black and white, that I take inspiration from all subcultures in society. I said that it’s not about what Dr Martens you wear, but how you wear them.
They are shoes that stand the test of time and have been the shoe the shoes of individuals for generations, and it’s fantastic to see a revival of Doc wearers.
I mentioned that my mum was an original punk and bought her first pair from the old ‘Doc Shop’ in Belfast in 1978; it just shows that no matter how much time changes- Docs remain central in defining the rebelliousness of youth. If you haven’t been to the Cornmarket store yet I suggest you have a nosey! Go on, what do you stand for?