Lisa, it may be a regional as well as a time period thing. I was in high school from 85-90, just before the tipping point for the grunge invasion of mainstream America. I mean, you did see Docs on boys with eyeliner and that sort of thing, but lots of mainstream kids wore them too.

Sara L -- I could never afford Docs either, but scoured the thrift stores for them in college. Ended up with red patent boots and white/navy brogue oxfords, both made in England, not China. Boots are long gone, but I still have the oxfords.

The other boots I really loved in college, also thrifted, were black pointy-toed lace-up boots from Santana Canada. More "granny grunge" than combat. Those boots really helped me feel like I had my own style, not just a set of cultural signifiers.

I love hearing all the different regional/ generational names for All Stars!

Gaylene and Aziraphale, I so agree with your thoughts about arts and sciences vs. business majors! It was like that when I was in college in the early 90s, as well. I think that's all changed for Millennials, though. It's almost a given now for creatives to start their own businesses, and the lines have gotten blurry! I used to see business majors as Wall Street types and realtors, but my (16yo) son sees business classes as a gateway to starting a YouTube channel or managing large-scale creative/social projects.

Trolling through my memory banks, it seems the first time I heard of Doc Martens was in connection with the Mods and Rockers back in the 60s. Docs were a working class boot, similar to the Marlon Brando motorcycle boot, worn by the Rockers as a counterpoint to the Italian Chelsea leather boots favoured by the Mods. The first time Docs registered with me was when I saw Peter Townsend of The Who wearing a pair. At that time, I thought they were rather cool.

What gave Docs their unsavory connotation for many of us in the 70s, though, was their popularity with the skinheads and punks, especially the fringe violent, far-right, racist factions. The more mainstream skinhead/punk movement was largely apolitical, but it was this smaller faction which garnered all the media attention. Seeing an blood-soaked immigrant being kicked in the head by a pair of Doc Martens is a pretty hard image to erase.

I'm finding this thread utterly fascinating because the perceptions of younger YLFers regarding the images conveyed by these iconic types of footwear is so different than mine. I remember the the first time I saw a girl wearing a pair of Docs with a flower-patterned dress--fashion transforming a violent image into something girly--but, unfortunately, not enough to remove the bloody taint from my mind. So, just like Cons maintain their basketball origins in my mind, Docs keep their violent image in my head. But isn't it fascinating to think of how enduring these images are in our minds? I'm now a bit more sympathetic to my mother's dislike of herringbone tweed because she could never move past the image of a baggy, labourer's jacket. Fashion can transform quite a lot, but it seems some connotations remain with us forever.

Interesting thread! I suspect the associations are similar and strong among many of us specifically because these are, as Angie says, iconic shoes. Iconic things tend to hold their associations over time. I'm rocker, arty, and sciencey (and was athletic in high school) -- but feel silly in Cons (do OK in Pumas but still overall silly). Give me Vans any day

(Another who finds art/sci/math all on the same side of the coin.)

I've only recently come around to sneakers. I had some kswiss in the early 2000s but that was a shirt lived thing because I couldn't keep them white and I really loved my high heels.

Lately, I've been obsessed with slip on sneakers like the finds.

What stereotype do slip on sneakers come with? LOL