For thirty years the legendary Doc Martens shoes and boots were exclusively made in England, up until ’89 when Accent Group Ltd. obtained the rights to manufacture them in New Zealand.
In 2003 the Dr. Martens company almost went bankrupt and was consequently forced to close many of its shops and factories and move all production to China and Thailand in 2004 to minimize production costs.
Since then, the brand has bounced back financially and expanded. Sales have soared and continue to do so, making Dr. Martens one of the most recognizable, successful, and fast-growing British companies.
So where exactly are Doc Martens manufactured today?
Doc Martens are made in six different countries, namely the UK, China, Vietnam, Laos, Bangladesh, and Thailand. Today only 1% of the products bear the label “Made in England,” so the vast majority of the iconic footwear is manufactured in Asia.
In case you’ve been wondering where Doc Martens are made if those made in Asia are of decent quality, or how to distinguish knock-offs from the originals, this detailed article will answer all your questions.
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Can you still buy Doc Martens Made In England?
Yes! By popular demand, the company still makes footwear in the original factory. If you visit the Dr. Martens website you will find a unique category of shoes made exclusively in England.
These have a special “Made In England” logo imprinted on both the sole and insole of the shoe. They might be slightly more expensive, but high quality and fine craftsmanship are guaranteed. However, that is not to say the shoes made in Asia are of much inferior quality!
Northamptonshire has a reputation for shoe-making since the 17th century. You can be sure that, on the subject of boots, these people are experts!
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All “Made In England” shoes and boots hail from the original Dr. Martens factory in Cobbs Lane, Wollaston. The factory itself is over 115 years old, and it’s the same place where the first pair of DM’s rolled off the production line way back in the ‘60s.
This is where over 100,000 pairs of Doc Martens are made each year. The factory has its very own store where you can find a vast collection of unique designs and accessories, as well as out-of-season stock and factory seconds for a very low price, up to a 70% discount!
But unless you live in the southern/central UK or plan to go on vacation there, you can easily find and order MIE Doc Martens on the internet or buy them directly from authorized retailers. Just make sure you look for the exclusive “Made In England” label on the sole, insole, and shoe tongue.
The “Made In England” limited range consists of three different types of products: vintage, which replicates the popular ‘60s styles, a seasonal collection, and the various collaborations of Dr. Martens with other brands, artists, and fashion designers.
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How are the “Made In England” Doc Martens different?
Although Dr. Martens' representatives clearly state that all the brand’s footwear is made following the same procedure across all factories, customers have noticed that the limited range of footwear manufactured in England differs from the main collection.
These are the main differences:
- A felt midsole that molds to the shape of your foot in time, while those made in Vietnam have a foam insole that isn’t as good.
- A stronger welt that is better attached to the sole.
- Tougher to break in.
- Resilient leather of higher quality.
- No collar around the top of the boot.
- Limited color selection.
Evidently, there are a few differentiations. Doc Martens that are made in England may cost $50-$80 more, but they are allegedly much better according to informed customers and reviewers, whose reports suggest that the British boots are more durable and comfortable than their Asian equivalents.
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Due to the sturdier leather, these boots will take a bit more time to feel comfortable, but once you break them in, it will seem like they were made just for your feet. Also, they will probably last longer. It’s up to you to decide if they’re worth the extra cash.
Apart from the supposedly finer materials, the differences are aesthetic and perhaps emotional. It just feels different to walk around in a shoe crafted in the birthplace of Doc Martens, doesn’t it? The absence of the top collar and the limited colors add up to the vintage look, making the boot resemble its 1460 predecessor as closely as possible.
How to tell if your Doc Martens are fake?
In an attempt to take advantage of Dr. Martens’ success and popularity, some opportunistic fashion retailers have tried to copy the distinctive DMs style and sell their own faux products as the real thing.
This led to lawsuits for trademark infringement on behalf of AirWair International Ltd. and even cease-and-desist letters against the copycats. After all, the accused retailers tried to confuse customers and turn a quick profit by selling shoes of dubious quality that deliberately look like popular Doc Martens designs.
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Do you think that you may have purchased a knock-off version of Doc Martens? Don’t worry! There’s an easy way to determine if your shoes are authentic.
Authentic Doc Martens have unique design features that distinguish them from knock-offs. Here’s how you can tell if your DMs are real or fake:
- Real Doc Martens have a signature stamp with a cross embossed on the bottom of the shoe.
- Check for typos on the Dr. Martens logo inside the shoe. Knock-offs often misspell the brand’s name.
- There’s a characteristic yellow stitching around the sole’s base, as well as an AirWair loop attached to the back heel.
- Examine the insoles. If your DMs are real, they will have the signature air-cushioned “bouncing” soles.
- There will always be a small print on the inside, usually on the tongue, with information such as shoe size, the name of the shoe, and where it was made.
- New Doc Martens often feature an inspection sticker, verifying that they meet quality standards.
Any pair of DMs look-alike boots that don’t have all of the above features must be, unfortunately, fake.
Original Doc Martens are generally heavier than other similar boots, because of their resilient materials. Their soles are thicker and less flexible to prevent tears and breakage.
If you want to make sure that you don’t spend your money on fake Dr. Martens, you can purchase directly from the brand’s website, an official store, or the Dr. Martens e-shop at Amazon.
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Are Doc Martens made in China?
According to official information released by the Dr. Martens company, 32% of its footwear is manufactured in China. Hence, almost one-third out of the 11 million pairs of Doc Martens’ shoes and boots made per year come from China.
There are 13 manufacturing sites in Asia. 39% of the footwear is made in Vietnam, 12% in Thailand, another 12% in Laos, 4% in Bangladesh, and the remaining 1% is still made in the original Cobbs Lane factory in Wollaston, Northamptonshire, England.
Since 2004, Dr. Martens has outsourced manufacture over to Asia for the apparent benefits of cheaper labor and efficiency.
They just wouldn’t be able to cover costs and catch up with the market’s demand if they were to limit their production to the UK – setting up factories and purchasing the raw materials for such a large quantity of boots and shoes per year would be nearly impossible.
It’s only logical that such a great portion of the Doc Martens products is made in China and other eastern countries nowadays.
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And since this is a brand that guarantees integrity and expertise, you shouldn’t worry if your boots weren’t made in Europe – there’s a fine line between prejudice and being a stickler for high quality!
Are Doc Martens made in Vietnam real?
Yes, they are! While there have been reports that Doc Martens of the “Made in England” range are of much better quality, the company insists that production in Vietnam and Asia follows the exact same process and meets Dr. Martens' high standards.
As we’ve already established, the Asian DMs footwear is slightly different than the British. To the brand’s defense, however, some customers even prefer the Thai, Chinese, and Vietnamese versions.
Besides, if there’s something wrong with your Doc Martens, it’s probably a manufacturing defect that could occur in any factory. The company’s representatives have stated that all their products are made in the exact same way, but sometimes they make mistakes. They can’t always get it right!
The great thing about buying online is that you can return them (as long as you haven't worn them outside and gotten them all scuffed and dirty!!!
All in all, Doc Martens made in Asia are a decent, affordable choice. Opinions may vary, but they are definitely well-made, comfortable, and stylish. The key is, of course, to take good care of your boots!