As much as we enjoy fashion, there are times when a price tag will leave us with eyes wide open and doing a double take.
Why are people willing to pay so much money for clothing items?
This is an interesting question in itself because the quality definitely does not always justify the price and yet some of these products sell like hot cakes regardless.
Over the years we have come across many popular brands and products, with people pre-ordering and saving for months to afford their expensive designs.
This leads us to wonder as to why are these brands so popular if the average buyer cannot easily afford them?
Such is the topic of this article, where we will take a look at the reasons behind Dr. Martens’ popularity and prices.
A quick search online will result in numerous forums, articles and reviews that discuss the brand’s qualities and product performance.
We have discussed the same in previous pieces when comparing its products with those of other renowned brands.
With that being said, let’s delve right into it!
- 1. Brand History
- 2. Why are Dr. Martens so Expensive?
- 3. Are These Boots Worth the Money?
- 4. How Long Do Dr. Martens Boots Last?
- 5. What Kind of Activities are Dr. Martens Good For?
- 6. Conclusion
1. Brand History
Dr. Martens Logo
As usual, it is best to start with a brief history of the brand in order to learn a bit more about its progress over the years, as well as about the manufacturing and design processes.
Dr. Martens is a leading footwear and clothing company that has been around for a long time and is among the most popular options for those looking for quality and sturdy products.
Dr. Martens was founded in 1947, following an accident that caused Klaus Märtens, a doctor in Germany, to injure his ankle.
In his efforts to ease the pain caused by the injury and due to the lack of suitable cushioning footwear, he created an air-padded sole that helped support the feet better and reduced the pressure endured by walking in regular shoes.
Jointly with his university friend Dr. Herbert Funck, he went into business, garnering popularity among housewives.
Deciding to expand internationally, they were noticed by the Griggs family, a renowned British footwear company headquartered in Wollaston, Northamptonshire.
With the executive design license acquired, the Griggs company went on to alter it for a better and more comfortable fit, also including the signature yellow welt stitch (see image below) that the design features to this day.
The Signature Yellow Welt Stitch – Dr. Martens Boots
Thus, on April 1, 1960, the 1460 Dr. Martens boot was launched onto the market, sold under the AirWair name.
While popular among women over 40 in Germany, the brand’s popularity in the UK and the rest of Europe was quite different.
Primarily preferred by factory workers, postmen and the working class in general, it rapidly became popular among alternative counter-culture subgroups as well, such as metal and punk, leading to a new era in the brand’s history.
Over the past two decades, the Dr. Martens brand and designs have undergone changes in order to keep up with the changing times and new styles.
Nowadays it remains a popular brand, with numerous sales and aficionados that swear by its product quality and longevity.
1.1 Quality Over Variety
It is not necessarily fair to generalize in regards to the brand’s lack of variety in their design because, truth be told, there are numerous designs available, but, in our opinion, a boot is a boot at the end of the day so there are bound to be similarities.
In the case of Dr. Martens boots and other footwear, they each have their own distinctive features, but they also share a considerable number of characteristics, which is why some may consider them to lack variety.
However, despite the lack of extravagant or highly varying designs, their quality is commendable and that is where the brand excels.
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2. Why are Dr. Martens so Expensive?
We would not have dedicated a whole article to Dr. Martens, if its price tag was smaller. They would not be original Docs otherwise!
Since its humble origins, the price of a Dr. Martens has sky-rocketed: from $3 a pair in the ’50s, the evergreen 1460 lace-up boots cost now around $150.
If this price could still sound reasonable and worthy for high-quality boots, the new releases – like the 1461 Rick Owens Bex Leather Oxford Shoes – are up to $300!
Blaming inflation is a too easy choice, the true reasons behind such a high price lay in the production line and the hardship the European manufacturing faces against the competitors, especially in East Asia.
In fact, in 2002 a pair of Dr. Martens produced in the Northamptonshire factory cost $87, pushing the retail price higher to gain some profits.
A fact which forced Dr. Martens to shift its production to China and Thailand.
Since the brand has been acquired by Permira in 2013, the prices boosted up to +25% with profits up to +75%.
Today, just 2% of Dr. Martens’ iconic shoes is made in the UK while the rest of the stocks comes from East Asia, where everyone knows manufacturing and labor costs are more competitive.
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Dr. Martens 1460 Boots
Still, why are Dr. Martens so expensive?
To keep up with the vintage boots, the new shoes have to include similar high-quality raw materials and the same methodical construction techniques.
Of course, a vintage model made in the original UK factory will give a particular feel that explains a higher price.
At the end of the day, Docs are always “THE Docs”, and fans will be always willing to pay a little extra for them no matter what or… how much.
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3. Are These Boots Worth the Money?
We just explained why Dr. Martens are so expensive, and we know that people are happy to pay a high price for this brand.
However, when it comes to our pockets, we should ponder if the shoes or the fashion accessory of our dreams are really worth the price.
Some shoe styles became the synonym of a brand. This happened with Dr. Martens and its signature high-ankle boots.
The consequence is that when one looks for new boots, one will instantly think of Dr. Martens and eventually buy a pair of Docs.
Dr. Martens boots are researched and adored for their biting and unconventional aesthetics, their well-known quality, durability and sturdiness, as well as the popularity and the history of the brand itself.
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Although, some aficionados and experts may argue that Dr. Martens’ quality changed over time and its shoes are not as they were used to be in their golden age, several factors sweeten this pricey pill: the meticulous production for boots that are both resistant and protective, the selection of high-quality materials such as thick leather and a combination of rubber and PVC for the welted and yellow-stitched soles, a footwear range that stays true to the original while winking to the young public.
If we buy a pair of Dr. Martens, we make a stylistic choice but we also know what we are going to wear.
The points we just saw above motivate the price but also reassure us on the quality we invest on.
4. How Long do Dr. Martens Boots Last?
A key feature of the brand is its extreme durability in equally extreme conditions and heavy wear.
This appealing promise also translated into a ‘For Life’ collection and guarantee until the scheme was lifted in 2018.
Assumed that Docs are made to endure, how long can we expect our Dr. Martens boots to last?
The company informs us that its footwear can last 5 to 7 years also with intense activity and miles under their soles. Many loyal clients shocked us by affirming that their boots lasted 20 years or more.
The durability of Dr. Martens is promising but, as everything made to be used and consumed, most of it will depend on us.
Taking care of a pair of Dr. Martens is essential to prolong its lifespan by cleaning them regularly and using leather-care polishing and conditioning products.
If not longer, our Dr. Martens should live looking on point and softer!
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5. What Kind of Activities are Dr. Martens Good For?
Dr. Märtens’ boots were born with a specific “medical” purpose, that is to support the recovery of his injured ankle.
The first shoes for sale were intended as daily footwear and heavy-duty boots for housewives.
In the ’60s, Dr. Martens targeted employers and hardworking people; hence they were made with factory life and hazards in mind, so as to be oil and slip-resistant.
The company has moved away from its working-class origin, for which different kinds of working boots – complying with federal laws – are needed.
Today a wide variety of people were Docs and for a totally different reason. Dr. Martens creations are primarily leisure footwear and they are great for daily wear or those particular occasions where an edgy style code is more than welcome.
Once we break in our new pair of Dr. Martens – a process which takes patience, time and some painful blisters – these shoes become ideal for daily life and long walks in our spare time.
To reach a natural conclusion, Dr. Martens are quite expensive for daily footwear but these German-born and UK-restyled shoes are not common footwear after all.
If you are looking for shoes that can express your unique style with little or zero effort, Dr. Martens are definitely your type.
When you buy a pair of Docs, you are fully aware your journey to fit comfy into them is going to be long but rewarding.
Around $150 for a pair of iconic 1460 is an investment in quality and style fused together with the instant self-esteem boost that only these punk-rock boots can give us.