Dr Marten, We used to be friends!

<Rant Mode: ON>

Earlier this week, I spent some time on Queen St West in Toronto, specifically to find myself a pair of classic 20-hole Doc Martens.


You’d think finding a classic pair of Doc Martens would be a fairly straightforward process but sadly it was an exercise in frustration.  I suppose you could say the frustration actually began before that. It began with the reason I had to purchase new boots at all.

I came into the Doc Marten fad a little late…bought my first pair of 14-hole Docs when I went away to college in 1997. Those boots were crazy comfy and I wore them daily for years!

They lasted almost a decade before the soles gave out and the leather cracked.  Boots of that quality were worth the money in my opinion, so I replaced them in the late-2000s.

Little did I know that in 2003, Dr Marten moved its production to China and Thailand.  More info: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dr._Martens  Some say that the quality of the boot hasn’t changed much, but my experience suggests otherwise.

I bought replacement 14-hole boots in 2007 or so…unsure exactly when. About two years ago, I had to stop wearing them (or at least only wear them on dry days) due to holes in the leather.

Both boots had holes, on both sides.  Sure, one could argue…you had 3 or more years of wear out of them…that’s pretty good for a pair of boots. But based on my initial experience, I found myself nursing some disappointment. Especially when I take care of my boots…I polish them, clean them, waterproof them…and yet, they still only gave me a few years of wear.

So, in September 2010, a flagship Doc Marten store opened up in Toronto on Queen Street West. http://www.torontolife.com/daily/style/shop-talk/2010/09/23/introducing-dr-martens-opens-store-on-queen-west/  Within months, I visited the shop to purchase a pair of boots. I aimed for 20-holes and convinced myself that the 14-holed holey boots were simply a fluke.

I chose a pair of 20-holes that had a black sole and a zipper…somewhat different than your classic Doc but still close enough that they resembled what I had worn for years.  The addition of the zipper changed the shape of the booth, causing them all to be somewhat large around my calf, but that is a typical problem for me and I talked myself into overlooking that by convincing myself that I could wear thicker socks, not to mention that I’d be wearing them over pants etc.  (Little did I know that the zippered Doc was soon to become practically my only option!)

As of a few weeks ago…at less than two years of wear…the soles of my newest 20-holed pair cracked…deep enough that a local shoe cobbler told me he couldn’t fix them.

Again, these are boots that I cleaned, polished and waterproofed on a regular basis.  It was disappointing to see crack in both soles…especially when I felt as though I had yet to really wear down the soles at all.

I spent a solid day with a wet foot and decided to bite the bullet and go purchase yet another pair.  A sucker for punishment, I suppose.

So, as I mentioned, this week I headed back to the Doc store on Queen St West.  I decided on my way that I would aim for a pair of classic, tie-up 20-hole Docs: http://www.dmusastore.com/p-1353-9663-20-eye-boot.aspx

Upon arrival at the store, I was told that most of their boots were zippered, except for a selection of 14-holed pairs, not to mention they didn’t carry the same 20-holed style that I had purchase less than two years before.

The 20-holes all had zippers (so all of them wouldn’t fit my calves properly) and the only pairs they carried that were both 20-hole and heavy leather were in red and purple.  On the main international website, it was discovered that the classic style boots I was looking for were only available in size 3UK!  Definitely not big enough for my size 10 feet!

I left disappointed.  The fact that they didn’t have the original style of boot was frustrating and seemed somewhat ridiculous. To add to that, I was looking to spend *another* $200 after less than 2 years on a pair of boots that I believe should have lasted me much, much longer…and not even being able to spend the money made the experience that much more annoying!

Dr Marten, I’m feeling quite disillusioned.

A bright spot in all of this is that a friend of mine dug out his old 14-holes and gave them to me.  He hadn’t worn them in a long time and said that if they fit, I could take them.  They did.  So I did. 🙂

But I still want a pair of high 20+ holed boots!

I’ve been researching online, trying to find other companies that sell similar boots….




No luck finding anything nearby…yet.  Montreal is the closest I have found…http://www.dmusastore.com/p-1353-9663-20-eye-boot.aspx  and I have to admit that the Tredair boots have caught my attention: http://www.boots4all.com/index2a.htm  I actually emailed Tredair to ask if their boots were sold in Toronto at all.  The response I got pointed me to the store mentioned above in Montreal, or another store in San Diego, CA.  Yeah, a bit of a distance.

I have spent years wearing my Doc Martens.  They’ve been my favourite footwear for a long time, but Dr Marten, you’re slowly losing my trust.

The search continues for 20-holes continues…

<Rant Mode: OFF>



  1. I am tempted to go for a pair of solvairs. The price of Dr. Martens in the UK has gone up so much. I paid £45 for a new pair of the old style 8 hole good quality Dr. Martens ages ago (just over 10 years) but now the poor quality new ones are at least £60-80. The leather is so soft, they don’t keep their shape, and the sole is weak and soft. The soles wear at the heels quickly and the tread on the bottom just wears off. I’ve had my old style ones for much longer than the new ones and there is still more grip left and they have had much more use. You’ll be lucky to get a year out of them. Now all of them have given up though and I really need some new ones. I still wear the old ones even though I get a wet foot and the sole has now split. They just tend to aim for different styles and fashion rather than quality. I am really disappointed with Dr. Martens and would not waste my money on them again. IMO they got complacent, the quality has suffered and just trade off their name now, much like Stanley do with tools. People will still buy them both but they don’t realise how bad they have got.

  2. Try Green Shoes in the UK! Check out their Iris boots: http://www.greenshoes.co.uk/index.php?f=shop&p=product&id=47&c=women&t=3&start=0

    Not cheap, but fantastic quality, no sweatshop involved, and they can fix them for you when they wear out. Top job! 🙂

    I’m kind of sad about the new Docs – they look great to start with, but don’t have the indestructibility of the originals, even though they cost way more.

  3. Award for you on my blog. 🙂

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