Docs are one of the most iconic pieces of footwear.
They have a long and illustrious history. The iconic boot has clad the feet of hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.
But they aren’t made like they used to be. Times change and manufacturing gets more expensive. That has an impact.
The big question is: are they still worth the price?
The general consensus seems to be a no.
I’ve seen a lot of sentiment out there that says the Docs manufactured outside the UK are of poor quality, with soles falling apart quickly and stitching failing early.
One particular YouTuber has documented his journeys in experimenting with Docs and their lesser-known competitors Solovair, and he has documented some interesting issues with Docs early on:
It’s important to note that his feedback hasn’t been all bad.
My own experience has been mixed too.
I own two pairs of Docs, one in black nappa and one in ‘gaucho’ which is a chocolate brown. I wear them somewhat often, as the silhouette and style is super versatile with casual wear.
However, we’re talking about quality here rather than just getting a look.
I’ve not heard any complaints about the quality of the actual leather used, which is good. I’ll not delve into the ‘vegan leather’ option – the brand has managed a marketing miracle there by being able to market faux leather footwear at a similar price to proper leather – as faux leather is a short term product.
What has irked me about my black nappa pair of Docs is when I found out that the tongues of the boots are actually made of pleather. I found this out after regularly wearing them for a few months and noticing that the tongues began to peel.
It’s important to note that these are Made in England ones, which are premium priced.
It’s a bit of a kick in the guts. When you pay for leather boots with a brand image of toughness, you at least expect them to be full leather.
The soles on the black ones have worn quite unevenly, which hasn’t happened on any other footwear of mine.
I can’t speak too much of the brown pair, as I’ve worn them rather sparingly (they’re the overseas made ones) given how the black MiE ones have performed.
They’re comfortable, but I’m dubious of their hardiness.
The modern Docs do have one good point, which is that they are quite comfortable for an unlined leather boot. I have no issues walking around town in them for a decent period of time.
Except for the nagging voice in the back of my head that says I can’t put them through too much because the sturdiness isn’t there.
Given the experience of others and of myself, I’m hesitant to even wear mine to ride my motorcycle let alone for other outdoor activities. For something that is traditionally a work boot, it’s not a good outlook.
My Red Wings – on the other hand – have taken just about all the punishment I can throw at them, and continue to look great and perform excellently.
In conclusion: don’t pay full price.
If you’re looking for something durable and strong, I would recommend a stronger boot. I agree with the popular sentiment that Docs are a boot you just buy for the look.
It’s a steep price tag just to have a silhouette.
I think that thrifting a pair of Docs would still be worthwhile (especially if you find a vintage pair that has been made sturdily), but it wouldn’t be worth paying retail price. The quality just isn’t there.
That’s all for today!
Thanks for reading. What’s your personal experience with Dr. Martens? If you have a favourite boot, drop a comment below!