If you’re thinking of buying a shiny pair of new Dr. Martens and have been wondering why they are so expensive or if you’ll get your money’s worth, look no further. This article will answer all your questions regarding the famous footwear’s price and value for money.
Doc Martens boots are quite expensive because they are durable, comfortable, made with the finest materials, and can fit with any style imaginable. Not only that, they are a unique fashion staple, a symbol of rebellion, music, and self-expression. These shoes have their own history and identity.
When you purchase a pair of Martens, you do not only buy the guaranteed quality of a brand that has been growing in popularity for over 60 years. It’s the style, the sturdy leather (or its vegan alternative), the attitude, the history under every footstep.
So let’s see exactly what you pay for when you buy the famous boots from the UK – in terms of craftsmanship, history, value, and variety.
Table of Contents
How are Doc Martens made?
The spearhead and home of the Doc Martens industry is still the original factory on Cobbs Lane in Wollaston of Northamptonshire, England, where they make about 100,000 pairs of boots and shoes per year. The majority of products, almost 99%, is manufactured in Asia. The brand’s representatives claim that the ‘recipe’ for all Doc Martens boots is the same, meaning that the process, the assembly line, and the materials used are identical in all factories.
The vintage 1460 Doc Martens are made exactly the same way they were made back in the ’60s. Their materials come from top-notch brands like Harris Tweed and Millerain fabric.
First off, they make the PVC soles with an injection molding machine. The leather is assessed and cut to pieces using hydraulic presses. The pieces of leather are tested to confirm they are the right thickness, and then various characters are embossed on them, like the trademark logo and size.
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Using sewing machines, all the pieces are manually stitched together. Even though the whole process involves many different types of machinery, it requires delicate and cautious handiwork. Now that the leather pieces are starting to look the shape of a boot, eyelets for the lacing are punched in, and a toe puff is added with a hot press.
Finally, a mold is added and the leather is pulled tight to give the boot its size and shape. The excess leather is cut off and then the famous yellow thread is used to stitch a PVC welt to the bottom of the shoe. The welt and the sole are melted together using hot blades and rollers, without the use of adhesive, to ensure the sole will stay in place.
A bit of trimming, cleaning, and tagging, and the boots are ready for inspection. Yes, that’s right, every pair of Doc Martens is closely inspected to verify they meet the brand’s standards!
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The Price of an Icon
Dr. Martens shoes have a history that spans over decades. The innovation of a German doctor became the patent of a family-owned factory in Northampton. Today, they are an international fashion brand, selling more than 10 million pairs each year in over 60 countries worldwide.
Doc Martens cost only £2 a pair in the ’60s when they first went into mass production. Considering inflation, that amounts to £50 nowadays. After a quick search on the brand’s website, we see that the original, made in England vintage design is sold for a staggering £190!
If you think about it, however, that steep price increase is only natural. The iconic global brand’s humble roots may lie in the UK’s working class and music scene, but they have since conquered the world of fashion, from the catwalks of Milan to Hollywood celebrities.
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Sure enough, Doc Martens first became popular through the punk movement, the skinhead subculture, and rock music. What started out as a cheap, practical work-boot would soon characterize the non-conformist trends of British youth until it evolved into a cultural icon of rebellious attitude.
An ironic question arises. How did a symbol of the reactionary working-class end up costing so much? The answer is pretty obvious: capitalism! Yesterday’s revolution is tomorrow’s profit.
That being said, the Dr. Martens company came very close to bankruptcy in 2003. Sales went down, factories closed, employees got fired, and production moved to Asia to cut corners. The firm, nonetheless, managed to survive, rebound, and eventually expand.
Permira, a private equity company, bought ownership of the Dr. Martens brand for £300m in 2013. All large investment companies aspire to one thing: profit. And since the ‘Docs’ already had their very own legacy and prestige that ensured people will keep buying them no matter how expensive, the only logical thing would be to raise prices. Fair or not, this is how the free market works!
That’s only about half the truth, though. Let’s not blame at once the ‘evil’ corporations when we can’t afford a luxury item! There is harsh competition in the shoe and clothing industry in general, as well as cheap knock-offs. To maintain quality and also turn a profit, production has to use the best materials available, whose prices inevitably rise, too.
Furthermore, they have to plan a solid marketing strategy, keep up the pace with the world of fashion and influencers, design new types of shoes and accessories, etc.
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Are Doc Martens worth their money?
Let’s be honest here – these boots might be pricey, but you certainly get what you pay for. Shoes are a very important apparel item. A cheap, bad shoe will hurt your feet, cause blisters, and affect your walking. The anatomically designed Dr. Martens will feel maybe a little uncomfortable the first week or so but afterward, they’ll feel like they were made just for you.
The boots are designed in such a way that, after ‘breaking in’, the leather stretches to fit the wearer’s foot perfectly. Whether you plan to walk, go to work, or dance around in pubs and concerts, Doc Martens are one of the most comfortable and versatile options available.
As for their durability, some reviews claim they can last up to 20 years! So even if their price nears 200$, they are totally worth it, as they could last a lifetime when properly cared for. There have been a few complaints about Dr. Martens made in Asia but these seem to be the exception, not the rule, and you can always buy from the UK factory for a few dollars more.
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And don’t worry if they get slightly damaged, scratched, or worn in a few years – they will only look cooler and more authentic in time!
Dr. Martens can fit with literally any style. Think about all the different subcultures and celebrities who wore and still wear them. You don’t have to be a punk with a mohawk and torn jeans to rock these boots! They will look cool with just about anything – even a wedding dress – so you don’t have to worry about whether they match your wardrobe or not.
Most importantly, this iconic footwear makes a statement that instantly upgrades your style. People still trust and buy Doc Martens after all these years because they have proved their worth. They retain their quality, the message of rebellion as well as their roots in the working class, but they’re also fashionable and stylish without ever becoming kitsch or too popular.
Popular Doc Martens Styles
The 1460 Boot
The Doc Martens 1460 boot (compare pricing: Amazon vs. Dr. Martens Official Website) is where the Doc Martens legacy began. This classic boot was made for workers 6 decades ago and gets its name from the date it started selling, 1.4.60.
Strong and versatile, it’s unquestionably one of the most popular boots worldwide. The generations may have changed, but the boot has stayed the same.
The 1461 Shoe
The 1461 Doc Martens (compare pricing: Amazon vs. Dr. Martens Official Website) are the original shoe made just one year after their first boot and maintains its 3-eyelet sleek and elegant style that is perfect for a hipster, goth, or casual look.
The 2976 Chelsea Boot
Doc Martens 2976 Chelsea boots (check pricing: Amazon vs. Dr. Martens official website) date back to 1851. Their distinctive and versatile style, without laces, make them ideal to wear on both formal and casual occasions. Subtle, comfortable, and cool.
The 1914 Boot
The Doc Marten 1914 are Mid-Calf boots (check pricing: Amazon vs. Dr. Martens official website) that will not go unnoticed. Tall, robust, plain black or adorned with colorful embroidery, these boots are certainly made for walking in style!
The 1490 Boot
The Doc Marten 1490 boot (check pricing: Amazon vs. Dr. Martens website) is the archetypal DM’s High Ankle boot, very similar to the 1460 but a little taller, is the rebellious icon that Doc Martens is all about, the one made famous by 60’s subcultures and music scene. If you know your boots, this is a must-have!
The 101 Boot
Doc Martens Vegan 101 boot (check pricing: Amazon vs. Dr. Martens Official website) is not only for “punks” but, factory workers, and postmen used to wear Doc Martens. Two eyelets shorter than the classic 1460 design, the 101 boot was first made for police officers until the rebels got it to outrun them!
The 3989 Brogue
Doc Martens 3898 shoes boast a low heel, 5 eyelets, intricate texture, and the definitive Doc Martens style. This unisex, all-British shoe blends class with attitude.