The shoemaker gave away a pair of custom rainbow-colored boots that features a topless cartoon person with scars under their breasts — a hallmark of breast removal surgery — as part of a promotional stunt.
The LGBTQ+ friendly boots — designed by a self-described ‘queer illustrator’ — were advertised on the company’s Instagram account and website last week, sparking a furious debate among its customers and social media users.
Some accused Dr Martens of ‘cashing in on the mutilation’ of women and urged a boycott of the company, while others praised the firm for standing up for minorities.
The controversy has echoes of the fallout from Bud Light’s decision to partner with controversial transgender TikToker influencer Dylan Mulvaney.
Dr Martens showcases boots custom-made by fans on its website as part of its ‘DIY Docs’ collection.
The new design causing controversy was put onto the 1460 boot, the original Dr Martens that was popular among skinheads, scooter riders and punk rockers in the 1970s.
They were designed by Colorado-based artist Jess Vosseteig, who said she wanted to ‘represent queer joy!’ with her design.
Vosseteig’s previous work includes a painting titled ‘periods have no gender’, which aims to remind people ‘to be more inclusive of other genders when we talk about menstruation’.
The boots were given away as part of a seven-day Instagram competition, in which users were required to like the post and tag a friend to enter.
By the end of the competition at 9am PST (12pm ET) today, the post on Instagram had nearly 10,000 likes.
One furious user commented, ‘How shameful. I’m disgusted’, while a second said ‘cashing in on the mutilation of young teenage girls and lesbians is so cool and progressive. Shame on you!’.
Several people suggested that the person shown was a minor, but Dr Martens told DailyMail.com that this was not the case and that the post was targeted at over-18s only.
Others called for people to stop buying the shoes, saying, ‘Never again @drmartens’, ‘#boycottdrmartens, what a disaster…’ and ‘Don’t buy your children anything from them’.