You might not even know it, but some people might be mistaking you for a Neo-Nazi or a cop killer based on the color of your Dr. Martens' laces.
That's right: your fashion choices can say a lot about you. For instance, a canvas bag can make people think you are crazy about environmental conservation, while tattoos and piercings might imply that you are a rebel.
It could be that you just like the look, but for some people, your fashion choices mean something else. That is why it's important to understand the Dr. Martens lace code to avoid offending people or getting into fights about hot-button issues like race and sexuality.
There was a time I used to think it was cool matching shoelaces with some other item of clothing or even my hair color. I still think it is, but these days I tend to see something different when I see various shoelace colors.
One day, a friend took a cursory look at my dressing, from head to toe, and said casually that I must really hate cops.
I was obviously quite confused by that statement. While I don't think cops are angels walking among us, I certainly don't hate them enough to want to make a statement about it with my clothing.
When I sought to find out why he had said these words, he explained that my shoelaces said it all. I immediately thought he was messing around with me.
Soon, I confirmed that he was telling the truth. Apparently, Dr. Marten's boots mean a lot of things depending on the color of their laces.
However, it is worth noting that the lace meanings can vary based on region.
I am guessing that if this is the first time you are hearing about shoelaces and their hidden meanings, then this might sound a little strange. However, as everyone knows, racism is very much alive and well in America.
As sad as that is, what's sadder is that there are many subtle ways those in the know express these harmful sentiments using shoelaces.
1. White Means White Pride
Someone who wears white shoelaces suggests an affiliation to the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK does not associate with Nazis since they don't believe in Hitler's policies because he was a foreigner.
KKK adherents can't stand foreigners.
Among skinheads, the white laces were also common, and they were also 'earned' through acts of violence in honor of the subculture's racist beliefs. Skinheads are considered a style community because they like to identify themselves using a particular personal style.
2. Red Means Blood Has Been Shed
Skinheads use red laces to indicate that someone has shed blood for the sake of the skinhead movement. Racist skinheads have been known to randomly attack people of color as a way to "earn" their red laces.
Red laces are the perfect choice for Neo-Nazis.
The skinheads also get a spiderweb tattoo, usually on the elbow, to show that they have committed a murder for the sake of the skinhead movement.
This explains why people were upset when Dr. Martens used an image of its boots with red laces. Many people know this represents classic white supremacist skinheads.
The company had put up many billboard advertisements in Portland, and they featured boots with red laces.
Sam Sachs, the founder of "The No Hate Zone," equipment devoted to fighting hatred and racism, said that he did not think this was intentional and said the company should know the history behind these boots and those laces.
He also shared a tweet about it saying "this is unacceptable."
It is fairly well-understood that people usually graduate from white to red laces after spilling some blood.
3. Blue Laces Means Hates Cops Or Killed A Cop
You can imagine how surprised I was to learn that shoelaces can actually be a way to brag about murdering a police officer. Shockingly, there is a code for this heinous crime.
People who wear blue laces also imply that they hate cops.
4. Yellow Means Anti-Racist
It's quite fortunate that these shoes come with yellow laces, and anti-racist skinheads have claimed this color for themselves. Otherwise known as Skinheads Against Racial Prejudice (SHARP), these punks often fight against racist skinheads.
The punks wore Doc Martens partly because the steel-toed shoes were also more effective in fights, also known as "boot parties" among skinheads. However, that was in the UK.
In the US, punks wore the shoes to show their opposition to racist punks.
Punks like making a statement with their fashion choices, which is in contrast to grunge, which is all about not making a statement. So, you will in all likelihood not catch a grunge adherent wearing yellow-laced Doc Martens, although grunge is a derivative of the punk subculture.
Yellow laces on Doc Martens can also mean the wearer is neutral on issues of race.
5. Purple Means Gay Pride
Purple laces can mean gay-pride, although they also indicate that you are anti-skinhead or that you are a ska punk fan.
Skinheads were members of the punk scene from the 60s who shaved their heads clean and then had aggressive behavior. They loved wearing Doc Martens, and they were openly racist.
A female skinhead is known as a featherwood or skinbyrd.
There was a time when being gay was considered dangerous, and this has not changed completely. With the legalization of gay marriages, however, things have changed massively.
6. Black Shows You Have No Affiliation
Thankfully, the popular and incredibly common black laces, which are standard in Docs, don't show any affiliation.
Therefore, if you love Doc Martens and want to stay neutral, black is the best color for you. It's also a safe color if you don't know much about lace code.
8. Green Means Neutral, As Well
You already know that yellow means anti-racist, but only if you are a punk. Green comes close, but it does not indicate that you have anything against racists.
Green Doc Martens laces show that you are neutral, or non-racist.
9. Black And White Means You're Into Racial Unity
It sort of sucks to hear that you can't wear white-laced Doc Martens because that means you support white supremacy. Fortunately, if you think racial unity is the way to go, you can combine black and white laces.
This color combo is also used to tell people you are into ska.
10. Plaid Means Non-Racist
You can also use plaid laces if you don't want to support any racist affiliations. Plaid Doc Martens laces indicate that you are neutral on the issue of race.
That makes this choice a great alternative to green and black laces.
Hopefully, the next time you wear a pair of Docs, you will know about any secret messages you might be giving those around you. Not everyone knows that the different lace colors have hidden meanings.
However, if you realize that someone is intentionally trying to say something by using a certain lace color, it's important not to go too far in your attempt to convince them to rethink their position.
At the end of the day, hate breeds more hate, while love kills hate.
Remember that a lot of people match their laces with their clothes. So, be careful not to read too much into lace colors. The wearers might be clueless they are demonstrating affiliations to undesirable subcultures.
In any case, the trend has died down of late, and despite the issues going on with regards to race in America, the lace code is not likely to make a comeback. However, you can still expect to get into trouble with some people for picking highly contentious colors such as white and red, although this largely depends on where you are in the world.
Dr. Martens is working to distance themself from the racist skinheads' image. Fred Perry has also publicly denounced its association with white supremacists after Proud Boys made its polo their unofficial uniform.