I started wearing Dr. Martens 8 eye boots in high school, and instantly loved how my feet could be so comfortable (like therapeutic walking shoes kind of comfortable), but still manage to look cool. They’re versatile enough to be paired with nearly anything. I’ve worn mine to dive bars and corporate luncheons, art fairs and hospitals. The clunky-soled boots certainly aren’t for everyone, but I’ve been stopped on the street multiple times by strangers curious about my funky footwear. When it comes to comfort and street style, Dr. Martens knows their stuff. The brand’s website brags about how different their styles are, how they’re a pivotal icon in countercultures around the world, but the site has little to say about the quality of their high priced footwear, something I think is incredibly important considering the price range.
Docs are pricey. A pair of boots will run you an upwards of 130 bucks, and flashier styles run up past $200. “But they’ll last forever” I half-convinced myself while perusing the online shop… I own two pairs of 8-eye boots (so a nearly $300 investment in footwear) and I’m here to tell you, they don’t last. After 5 years of owning my first pair, I noticed a crack in my cushioned sole, and worse, a rip in the leather tongue. After another month of typical wear and tear, the tongue completely ripped off. Needless to say, I was disappointed with the lack of quality. I tend to keep (and wear) my shoes for years, and I’ve never had a pair that self-destructed the way these Docs did. Even my countless tennies from Payless remain in great condition after years of daily wear.
I figured that Dr. Marten’s would have a great customer service policy regarding damaged footwear, especially considering the price of their shoes. After calling the 800 number, I was told that the brand doesn’t offer a repair facility. I was instructed to find a local shoe repair company and have the tongue reattached out of my own pocket. I was told that the tongue ripping out was likely a cause of typical wear and tear because I’d had my boots so long. Ridiculous. The tongue in my right boot remains intact with no signs of tearing, and since I always handled both boots similarly, I’m thinking I likely received my left boot with a factory defect (perhaps a hairline rip in the tongue that grew over the years). Regardless of the cause, I at least expected a discount on a new pair of boots, but the brand offered me nothing. What’s more, the comfort of the boots seemed to deteriorate a bit each year. The soles had lost their bounciness, the leather was cracking and bending around the ankles, and the lack of tongue left my left boots practically unwearable.
Regardless, I giddily unpacked a shiny new pair of Doc’s from my uncle last Christmas. I slipped them on, ogled over the comfort of the new soles, and began wearing them daily to the office. Three months went by, so far, so good. I was hoping my last pair of boots were a fluke, and that these new ones were destined to be an icon of the quality I was expecting. No such luck. In mid-April, I slipped my boot on, tugging lightly on the leather boot-strap (you know, the loop on the heel that is designed to help you slip your boots on) when it completely snapped off the heel, leaving a useless flap of fabric on the back of my boot. I called customer service once more, explaining that my brand new boot had torn, and was told that I could take my boots to a local repair center, send my receipt to the Dr. and be reimbursed. That’s the best they could do for me.
I admit, I love the look of Doc Martens, but the quality simply isn’t there. I certainly won’t be purchasing another pair.