A row of doc martens hanging in a store

You Need Some Doc Martens (the Vintage Shoe That Still Rocks)!

According to today’s trendsetters, Doc Martens are back in style. But did they ever truly go out of fashion in the first place?
If you’re ready to get your hands on your own pair of these classic military boots, look no further!

History of the Dr. Martens Brand

Most people know that Doc Martens go hand-in-hand with counter-culture and punk movements. But do you know how the brand actually started?
(Spoiler: The brand was co-created by actual doctors.)

From humble beginnings

Dr. Martens emerged from a collaboration between two German soldiers — Dr. Maertens and Dr. Funk — and the Griggs cobbling company based in Northamptonshire, England.
After breaking his foot in 1945, Dr. Maertens designed an air-cushioned sole to make his military-issue boots more comfortable. He partnered up with Dr. Funk, and the two sold shoes in Germany for almost 15 years before advertising their invention overseas.
The Griggs family saw this advertisement and purchased an exclusive license for Dr. Maertens’s innovative design. Within a year, the U.K. shoe factory had tweaked the design and released the original 1460 boot in 1960.
The rest is footwear history.
A person wearing white doc martens with a black design on them

Through the decades

For a few years, Dr. Martens were worn as utilitarian work boots. Popular among blue-collar workers of all kinds, the boots were practical but far from a fashion statement.
Then, Dr. Martens became popular with first-generation skinheads, a multicultural subculture associated with the working class. From there, famous musicians (most notably, Pete Townshend of The Who) wore the shoes on stage and propelled the brand to rockstar status overnight.
In the late-1970s, Dr. Martens earned an unsavory reputation. While the brand’s original adopters had been diverse and largely peaceful, the movement had since morphed into the violent skinheads we think of today.
Even almost 50 years later, many people still hold this negative association with the original Doc Martens boots.
In the ’80s and ’90s, Doc Martens were reclaimed by the goth, punk, and grunge scenes. This is also when Dr. Martens started designing for women, who had been incorporating small men’s sizes into their wardrobes for years.

To modern controversies

As we mentioned, Dr. Martens nearly went bankrupt in 2003. While the brand had already outsourced some of its production, this marked the closing of nearly all factories in the United Kingdom.
Today, the vast majority of shoes are now made in China and other Asian countries. You can still buy shoes from the remaining England factory by shopping the Dr. Martens “Made In England” collection.
This manufacturing shift was — and still is — seen as a direct contradiction of the brand’s history and U.K.-focused marketing.
In recent years, Dr. Martens has also been criticized for lowering the quality of its footwear. Whether this is directly linked to outsourcing production or the company’s buyout in 2013 is unclear.
It’s sad to see these changes from a brand that built its reputation on boots that could literally last a lifetime. But many longtime fans believe the “Made In England” collection is representative of the brand’s original quality.

10 Best Doc Martens Styles To Wear Today

With such a diverse product range, shopping for Doc Martens can be incredibly confusing and even intimidating.
Here’s our beginner’s guide to some of the hottest Dr. Martens styles you can buy today:

1. 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots

The Jadon adds a fierce, chunky platform sole to the original 8-eye...
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If you’re looking for the original, this is it. The 1460 Smooth Leather Lace-Up Boots are the very first Doc Martens to exist, with minimal updates from the original design.
Named after its release date, April 1st, 1960, these boots feature eight eyelets, yellow stitching, a heel loop, and, of course, air-cushioned soles.
Black leather is the most popular, and most classic. However, you can also grab these tried-and-true boots in a range of vibrant colors to match your personal style.

2. Rawston Steel Toe Work Boots

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Today, Dr. Martens is associated more with fashion than workwear. But the brand started as exactly that. The Rawston Steel Toe Work Boots are a great option for anyone looking for a sturdier shoe built for the contemporary workforce.
These steel-toe boots aren’t immediately recognizable as Docs. Upon closer inspection, though, you’ll see the brand’s standard finishing touches like yellowing stitching and a heel tag.
Aside from looking good, these boots also feature static dissipation, a GRIPTAX outsole, and a moisture-wicking, antimicrobial inner-lining.

3. 1460 Vonda Floral Leather Lace Up Boots

Dr. Martens Women's 1460 Vonda Fashion Boot, Black Softy T, 8
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We mentioned how Dr. Martens started catering to feminine fashion at the end of the 20th century. Well, the 1460 Vonda Floral Leather Lace Up Boots are the perfect example of that brand direction come to life.
As the name implies, these women’s boots are built using the original 1460 design. But they also borrow the upper material of the 1914 Vonda.
Instead of plain smooth leather, these boots feature black leather embroidered with a collection of red roses. While not as durable as plain leather Docs, these hybrids are a must-have for the fashion-obsessed.

Recommended Read: Shoe Accessories Every Fashionista Will Adore: 11 Gifts for Them

4. 1461 Smooth Leather Oxford Shoes

Dr. Martens - 1461 Nappa, Black, 10 M US Women/9 M US Men
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When you think of a pair of Doc Martens, you probably think of a pair of boots. If you think that’s all the brand makes, though, you’re missing out on some great designs. The 1461 Smooth Leather Oxford Shoes are just one example.
The 1460 boots might have been the first Docs ever created, but these were the second. These classic Oxfords combine everything we love about the Dr. Martens brand with a dressier silhouette.
As always, you can get these shoes in smooth black leather for an authentic look. Or choose from a range of seasonal colors for something even more stylish.

5. Molly Women’s Leather Platform Boots

Dr. Martens Molly Quad Retro Black Buttero UK 7 (US Women's 9) M
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With a decades-long relationship with alt movements around the world, it should come as no surprise that Dr. Martens often draws inspiration from punk, goth, and grunge fashion. For a dramatic twist on the classic military boot design, you’ll love the Molly Women’s Leather Platform Boots.
The sole of this boot is twice as thick as regular Docs. The upper also includes extra-large eyelets and ribbon laces instead of the traditional style.
As a women’s shoe, these platform boots do run narrow compared to unisex Doc Martens. If you’re looking for a unisex platform, check out the Jaden collection.

6. Vegan Blaire Women’s Felix Gladiator Sandals

Dr. Martens Women's Blaire Fisherman Sandal, Cherry Red Oxford Rub...
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It’s true that nearly the entire Dr. Martens brand was built on using leather. In 2011, however, it opened up its product lines to include a range made of vegan leather.
You can definitely get boots made from this material, but you can also find some lesser-appreciated Doc designs like the Vegan Blaire Women’s Felix Gladiator Sandals.
In many ways, these look like stripped-down versions of the 1460 boot design. You’ll find yellow stitching, thick soles, and a cloth heel loop that are all calling cards of Doc Martens.
These sandals tend to run large when compared to other Dr. Martens styles. Consider ordering a size down.

7. 2976 Smooth Leather Chelsea Boots

Dr. Martens, 2976 Leather Chelsea Boot for Men and Women, Black...
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Whether shoelaces are too much trouble or you just prefer a clean look, the 2976 Smooth Leather Chelsea Boots are one of your best options for pull-on Docs.
Inspired by Victorian footwear, these boots gained popularity among farmers after their initial release.
Unlike the more popular laced Doc Martens, these boots feature an elastic ankle gusset. There’s no yellow stitching here, but you still get a large heel loop and bright yellow interior lining.

8. Sussex Bear Track Slip Resistant Chukka Boots

Dr. Martens Sussex Chukka Boot, Dark Brown, 12 Medium Men
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Another style that would be hard to pinpoint as Doc Martens if not for the distinctive heel loop, the Sussex Bear Track Slip Resistant Chukka Boots are both fashionable and built to last.
These chukka-style boots include three eyelets for a shorter profile. The full-grain leather upper comes in black or brown and boasts tons of gorgeous texture.
Specifically designed for those in the service industries, these ankle boots feature a slip-resistant outsole and a removable, moisture-wicking lining.

9. Church Vintage Monkey Boots

Dr. Martens Men's Church Vintage Smooth Chukka Boot, Oxblood, 10 UK/11...
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Inspired by one of Dr. Martens’s retired designs, the Church Vintage Monkey Boots are manufactured to be as close to their predecessor as possible.
Despite having six eyelets, the low-on-the-toe lacing pattern positions these boots around ankle height. Contrasting yellow stitching across the entire shoe creates a subtle-yet-stylish pattern.
These boots are also a part of the brand’s Made In England collection.

10. Junior 1460 Softy T Leather Lace Up Boots

Dr. Martens, Kids Collection Junior 1460 Boots, Black Softy T, 4 US
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Doc Martens aren’t just for grown-ups. You can now find a wide range of boots and shoes in kid sizes. Many, like the Junior 1460 Softy T Leather Lace Up Boots, are modeled after the brand’s most recognizable styles.
Available in black or brown leather, these boots really are miniature versions of the full-size 1460. They’re durable enough for everything young kids might throw at them while also being quite comfortable.
If you’re worried about how your little one will handle shoelaces, don’t. These boots have been modified with zippers for easily going on-and-off.

Getting the Most From Your New Doc Martens

Getting your first pair of Doc Martens can feel like a rite of passage. If you’re new to the utilitarian fashion brand, here’s what you need to know for a great buying experience:

Sizing tips

Doc Martens typically run true-to-size. However, there are a few eccentricities to keep in mind, especially if you’re shopping online.
Doc Martens only come in whole sizes. If you normally wear a half size, Dr. Martens suggests sizing down. Also, extended width versions of these shoes are rare.
Original Doc Martens are unisex but the brand has since expanded to include women’s shoes.
As a rule of thumb, shoes that are only available in women’s sizes will be narrower than those available in men’s and women’s sizes.

How do you break in new Doc Martens?

Most Doc Martens take a notoriously long time to break in — the brand’s vegan line is one notable exception. It takes time for the leather uppers to soften and form to the shape of your foot.
You certainly don’t want to wear your brand new Docs for a full day out.
Start by wearing your shoes while walking around the house. Build up to longer and longer stints over the course of a few weeks.
Wearing thick, long socks can help prevent blisters in the beginning. Dr. Martens also recommends using its Wonder Balsam Shoe Protector to soften the leather even further.

Are Doc Martens waterproof?

It’s safe to say that most Dr. Martens designs are water-resistant but not waterproof.
While your feet might not stay completely dry, you at least don’t need to worry about rain or snow damaging the leather.
If you have your heart set on a pair of Docs but live somewhere with lots of precipitation, check out the brand’s Drywair boots. These styles are completely waterproof and take inspiration from the brand’s original designs.

What is the best way to clean Doc Martens?

To clean your Doc Martens, all you need is a damp cloth to wipe away dirt. It’s best to wash the shoelaces separately.
Many Doc owners prefer to follow a full care routine to get the most life out of their shoes.

Dr. Martens Men's Premium Shoecare Box, No Color, One Size
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Here’s what Dr. Martens recommends (double-check your shoe material before applying any products):

Leather

Most Doc Martens are made of leather and work with the brand’s core cleaning product collection.
After wiping away dirt with a damp cloth, apply a conditioner like Wonder Balsam. You can apply shoe polish and a weather protectant spray if desired.

Suede

Suede requires special care. Dr. Martens recommends using a specialty Suede Cleaner and a brush to clean and restore these shoes.

Vegan leather

Since vegan Doc Martens shoes start out softer than their animal-derived counterparts, it makes sense that they would need special care.
You can keep your vegan Docs clean with a damp cloth and extend their lifespan with the Ultra Protector spray. While it’s fine to use Wonder Balsam on vegan leather, keep in mind that the formula itself is not vegan.

Recommended Read: How to Clean Winter Boots the Fast and Easy Way

Put a Spring in Your Step With This Timeless Brand

With a rich history intertwined with the punk movement and alternative fashion, the Dr. Martens brand has endured booming popularity and near-bankruptcy.
Despite these past hardships, it’s difficult to think of a time when Doc Martens weren’t part of everyday streetwear.
Which style of Doc Martens is your personal favorite? Do you stay true to the original designs or prefer exciting new colors and prints? Let us know in the comments below!

Last update on 2022-10-03 at 23:18 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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