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Why Are Doc Martens So Expensive? [8 Reasons 2022]

Dr. Martens, also known as Doc Martens, Docs, or DMs, have been popular footwear for 70 years. 

These shoes, which are associated with counter culture and youth trends, have been worn by everybody from postmen, punks, politicians, and even popes.

Dr. Martens now sells over 12.5 million pairs of footwear every year in more than 60 countries.

Photo: Anders Printz / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Dr. Martens are expensive because of their iconic design, strong branding and fashionable status. They have long been associated with different counter-cultural movements – especially musical trends. Docs have patented rubber soles and are known for their high quality and durability. The Dr. Martens brand remains extremely popular all over the world, which allows DMs to sell for a premium price.

Let’s look in greater detail at some of the reasons why Dr. Martens are so expensive.

1. Historic Brand 

In post-war Munich in 1945 Dr. Klaus Maertens, a young soldier, created an air-cushioned sole for his shoes to make them more comfortable as he recovered from a broken foot. 

Together with his friend Dr. Herbert Funk, he started making cushioned footwear. In 1959, they began advertising their shoes overseas. 

The air-cushioned soles caught the attention of the Griggs family company in England, who were already known for their sturdy work boots.

The family acquired a license for the soles and created the classic eight-holed 1460 (named after the date it was created on April 1, 1960).

Variations of that Dr. Martens boot have been on sale ever since. One of the reasons DMs are so expensive is because of that authentic heritage.

2. Iconic Design

The classic Dr. Martens boot with its yellow stitching, ridged AirWair ‘bouncing’ sole, and distinctive heel loop is an iconic design.

Many other brands have produced their own versions, but nothing comes close to the classic DM. 

The first eight-holed 1460 boot is still in production and extremely popular, especially in black and ox-blood red.

The boot range has expanded over the years into mid calf boots, Chelsea boots, low lace up boots, and tall boots.

The famous Docs soles are used to make oxford shoes, brogue shoes, mary jane shoes, and loafers.

Dr. Martens are available in all sorts of colors including yellow, pink, gray, floral, and white.

Regardless of the specific style people choose, they are happy to pay a premium for a genuine pair of Dr. Martens.

3. Counter-Cultural Image

Initially, the Dr. Martens boots were worn by postmen and other workers. But in the 1960s, they were adopted by skinheads and then by Pete Townhend, guitarist of the band The Who.

A Dr. Martens shop in Montréal, Québec, Canada. Photo: Bargainmoose / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

During the 1970s, Dr. Martens were worn by a succession of British music and fashion tribes including punks and followers of Two Tone.

American punks started taking them back to the west coast which raised their popularity in the United States.

In the 1990s, they were widely worn by fans of Grunge and Britpop but the brand suffered a downturn in the 2000s. 

Dr. Martens have since experienced a dramatic return to popularity. DMs continue to express creativity, rebellion and individuality – whilst providing a connection to certain tribes and youth movements.

4. Patented Design

Ever since the Griggs family bought a license for the ‘bouncy’ soles, Dr. Martens have had to protect the patents and intellectual property over their design. 

Today, the company’s AirWair brand is one of several thousand global trademarks that they have to protect.

Some of Dr. Marten’s unique features include the grooved edge to the soles, the sole pattern and the yellow stitching on the welt.

Dr. Martens employs a team of intellectual property experts to enforce their rights around the world, using partner law firms. 

5. Comfort

Dr. Martens have been known for their extremely comfortable soles since they were first made in 1960.

The patented AirWair boots, invented by the real Dr. Klaus Maertens, have always claimed to have ‘bouncing soles’.

Walking in a pair of Dr. Martens boots can feel like walking on air or a springy cushion.

The original sole is 1.2” high. Doc Martens now come in four sizes of soles which go all the way up to the Quad Sole which is 1.85”.

6. Quality of Materials

From the outset, the Griggs family firm of bootmakers has used only the best materials to produce their Dr. Martens.

Until 2002, the company made all of its footwear in England at its factory in Wollaston, Northamptonshire. After facing bankruptcy in 2003, it moved all production to China and Thailand. 

Since then, the company started producing its ‘Made In England’ footwear back in Wollaston, whilst continuing to make other products overseas. It is estimated that around one percent of the footwear is made in England.

However, Dr. Martens insists that all of the boots are still welted, using the same leather and the high production standard has remained the same.

The boots are now available in vegan leather as well as traditional leather.

7. Durability

Dr. Martens have built up a reputation for long-lasting products. According to some estimates, they can be expected to last between 5 and 20 years.

Photo: DrMartens Day / Flickr / CC BY SA 2.0

It has been claimed that the footwear produced in England at the original factory is better made than the boots made in Asia. But the company insists all their footwear is made to the same standard.

It is possible to extend the life of DMs by storing them correctly and using the correct leather conditioner. If the soles begin to wear out they can be replaced.

The company used to offer a lifetime guarantee. Their products now carry a one year warranty against manufacturing defects.

8. Great Customer Service

Dr. Martens continues to offer great customer service, both at its brick and mortar stores and to those who make their purchases online.

Unlike many companies, Dr. Martens has a customer service phone number that is operational.

In the UK, it is open Monday to Friday, 8am to 7pm and 11am to 5pm on the weekends.

In the United States, their phone line is open Monday to Thursday 6:30am to 4:30pm PST, Friday 6:30am to 2:00pm PST, and 8:00am to 2:00pm PST.

Conclusion

The famous design, strong branding and fashionable status are all factors when it comes to Dr. Martens are more expensive than other boots.

Dr. Martens have been widely adopted by different counter-cultural movements – especially musical ones.

Docs have patented rubber soles and are known for their high quality and durability.

The Dr. Martens brand is sold all over the world at a premium price.