The history of Doc Martens iconic boots and why they now suck

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Wait… tough, working class skins were wearing little old lady boots?!?

gene wilder thinking GIF

That’s pretty interesting!


Alexei knows.


Video isn’t playing for me, but I’m sure I can guess why.

I have been buying Blundstone boots for around two decades. I used to have the boots for years. Now I’m lucky if I can get 1½ out of them. They used to repair the soles themselves. Now no longer.


I have a pair of Vasque Sundowner boots that I’ve worn for close to 30 years now. Other than being scuffed up in spots and the heel a bit run down, they are still almost pristine. Give me quality over style any day.

ETA: Just read that Vasque (owned by Red Wing) shifted production to Asia back around 2003 or so and the newer Sundowner models have lots of complaints about the soles splitting and separating. There goes another one…*sigh.


Your favorite footwear company and products turned to shite?


There was a time when Reeboks were comfortable long-lasting shoes not made by slave labor.


I had a pair of Docs black working man shoes I bought in London 25 years ago that I absolutely loved. So comfortable. Then a few years ago I bought a pair of pull on boots from a Doc store in Seattle. A few months later the pull strap ripped off the back of one of them. I went back into the store and “the regional manager” was there training employees. I told her (and the employees) what was going on, and she took the opportunity to show the employees how it’s done. “Cool! That just makes them look more rugged and lived in!” I told her I didn’t want rugged and lived in. I wanted functional boots. Her tone changed. “Six months is a long time to have some boots and complain about them. You should really treat your boots better.”

So that pretty much ended my interest in Docs!


If you want Doc Martens but want them to be solid quality, I suggest you look for Solovair. They used to make Doc Martens’ boots in the UK, until DM moved production to Asia.


I had a pair in the 90s and they absolutely sucked then. The least comfortable shoes I every wore with stiff soles that didn’t bend. Painful to wear. Terrible. I am certain they must have improved massively to remain in business.


Yeah, they were never a good boot. Splitting soles and blistered feet. And after not too long, the heels wore down in a way that made you walk like a cowboy. ‘Doc Walk’ we called it. Maybe why we thought they were cool?


like many things, they used to be great, then the company either got sold and new the owners started seeing dollar signs, and they went up in price and down in quality. sad, really.


This article’s a little biased. Maybe try seeing things from the company’s side by walking a mile in their shoes.
Actually, better make that a half mile for the sake of caution.


Those look like my old Redwings, which lasted a decade under some pretty grotty conditions.

My new Redwings have more Doc Marten-ish lines, but are holding up ok so far - it’s been about 3 years.

Note: Redwing are pretty rare here in Australia - I learned about them on a work trip to California, when I realized after landing that I’d need protective footwear.


I live less than an hour from Red Wing. Around here when you start your first construction or factory job you run out and buy a pair of Red Wing steel toe boots. They’ve never been cheap, but they have a well deserved reputation for quality and comfort; and as far as safety goes a lot of people I know (myself included) still have toes thanks to them.

And here I am, 45 years later, still wearing Red Wing boots as my everyday shoes. They’re on my feet right now.

I’m sure it’s just local bias but Doc Martens have that crazy wide toe box and distinctively wide welt look that makes me think of clown shoes.


… and the tread is useless—if the pavement is not completely dry, we are going to fall on our butts


i bought a pair of expensive redwings about a decade ago, they didn’t, unfortunately, last all that long. ( and wow, the factory soles were like ice whenever it rained. )

i’m back to cheap timberlands which seem to hold up okay for the price.

( ive also got a pair of regular old army surplus boots which will never die. they’re not comfortable, and they don’t look good, but they do cover my feet successfully. )

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My new wife wore Docs on our honeymoon to London 30 years ago. She had one start to fall apart, and stopped into a cobbler to see about getting them repaired. We were laughed out of the shop. I can’t imagine they’ve improved the quality since then.


When I started wearing Docs in the 90s they were pretty solid, and I’ve always like the look and like wearing them. Quality went to hell when production moved to asia though.

I was still wearing them when covid hit, but being locked down for so long destroyed the last of my self respect, and now I just mooch around in an old pair of runners.

I’ve got a pair of Reebok hiking boots that I got in 1996, which are still wearable. They are now by far my most comfortable pair of shoes, because they’ve had twenty five years of being moulded into shape by my feet. They’ve done a fair bit of actually hiking up mountains and whatnot, but they’re also my go-to festival boot, they even kept my feet dry through Glastonbury 2005.
I know plenty of people who’ve spent serious cash buying proper hiking boots, from ‘proper’ brands, and yet my boots were the cheapest in the shop, and made by a trainer manufacturer.

(Technically my parents bought them for me, that’s how young I was)


I still proudly wear my Docs even at 51. The key is opting for the “made in the UK” versions. Yes, they are costly, but for mutants in the US, here is the link.