Dr. Martens vs Solovair Boots: Which Brand is Better?

woman wearing doc martens

The quest for the right footwear is not impossible. After all, it is all about your personality, the occasion, and the feeling at first sight.

The research for best buys, instead, is a totally different matter especially when it comes to boots. Boots should be sturdy and comfy, so to last for years!

It is not by chance that we instantly think of Dr. Martens and Solovair for everlasting boots, but which brand is better? Which one will not disappoint you? Here is our verdict.


1. Dr. Martens Boots

From workers to rock stars, housewives to punks, Dr. Martens has really dressed the feet of an incredible variety of humans. From Germany, the brand found a new house in the UK and this is its story.

Dr Martens 1460 Boots
Dr. Martens 1460 Boots

1.1 History of the Brand

WWII reshaped Europe and the lives of many. It surely did with Griggs, a British footwear company, and a soldier named Klaus Maertens in Germany. Klaus invented a brand new type of boots to support his healing ankle after a skiing accident.

With the help of an engineer friend of his, Klaus worked on the prototype until satisfied. It was 1947 and the result was a supportive boot with an innovative air-cushioned sole. The duo marketed their product in Germany finding appreciation among housewives with a good 80% of women buying these shoes.

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When their adverts crossed the Channel and grabbed the attention of the shoemakers Griggs, things took the turn to
success. With a new name, a makeover, and the unmistakable yellow touches, the British company was ready to take on the production.

The first model, the iconic 1460, was named after the launch date on 1st April 1960. By a quirk of faith, the matte black leather was a mistake: when a stray batch of leather passed the quality checks and it was too good to let it go.

Must read: Why are Dr. Martens Boots so Expensive and Popular? Are They Worth It?

Dr. Martens | A History of Standing for Something

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1.2 Materials, Where Doc Martens Are Made, Prices (Are They Worth The Price?) and Quality

Aside from its musically-entrenched story, aficionados love Dr. Martens for its incredible durability. The brand prides itself on rejecting fast-fashion production and chooses its raw materials with care and ethics.

Dr. Martens has a timeline to reduce its footprint and make all of its footwear from sustainable material by 2040. Still today, the core materials are leather and PVC.

Read also: Are Dr. Martens Still in Style? How To Wear Them?

As a matter of responsibility, its sources are trackable and leather is a by-product from the food industry – a sort of recycling. On the website, we can clearly see a variety of textures. We can find smooth, grained, high-shine, embossed, suede, semi-matte (i.e. Snowplow WP leather), and Quilon leather which is the most authentic of all the finishes.

Dr. Martens chooses its suppliers and tanneries within the Leather Working Group (LWG) to ensure environmental and quality standards. PVC is a chemical component but the plan is to opt for biodegradable alternatives in the future. Dr. Martens is currently using recycled packaging and soy-ink but there is still much to do.

Iconic Yellow Stitching Dr Martens Boots
Iconic Yellow Stitching Dr. Martens Boots

Dr. Martens’ boots have been produced for a long time in Northamptonshire, the heart of British shoemaking, until when a new factory was set in New Zealand. Due to financial distress, the brand moved its factories over to China and Thailand in 2003, raising many concerns among loyal consumers.

The news spread wild but, just one year later, the company stepped slightly back and inaugurated a “vintage” production range at home, in Wollaston.

DMs’ price tag spans from $90 for suede styles to $270, while the ‘Vintage Made in England’ boots are set to $230 at this moment.

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1.3 Some Of The Most Loved Designs

Dr. Martens 1460 Vintage Made In England Lace Up Boots

Dr Martens 1460 Vintage Made In England Lace Up Boots
Image from drmartens.com

Check out Dr. Martens 1460 Vintage Boots at DrMartens.com

Nostalgia is in this pair from the “Made in England Vintage” line, made in the Northamptonshire factory with the original construction and choice of leather, the Quilon. The cherry red leather has a semi-matte finish embellished by a white stitched design. A pair for real connoisseurs.

Dr. Martens Jadon Smooth Leather Platform Boots

Dr Martens Jadon Smooth Leather Platform Boots
Image from drmartens.com

Check out Dr. Martens Jadon Boots at DrMartens.com

Jadon is the edgy side of Dr. Martens. These 8-eyelet boots have all the typical features of classic DMs plus a groovy platform and ankle zippers.

You might also like: Dr. Martens vs Blundstone Boots: A Comparison

2. Solovair Boots

The story of Solovair intertwines with Dr. Martens’. It is the location at the heart of the English shoemaking industry, the Northamptonshire, but also an open approach to business.

2.1 History of the Brand

To your surprise, Solovair has a longer history compared to Dr. Martens. The company was born in 1881 when a group of five men from Wollaston decided to join forces to get the most from their skills and, especially, fair pay. They were called the “Duffers”, founders of the Northamptonshire Productive Society or NPS.

nps solovair official website
NPS Solovair official website

Later, in the 1950s, their society developed a unique process that became essential to secure uppers to the soles: the Goodyear welt technology. The Griggs needed this new technology to produce their patented Docs in the UK and asked NPS to collaborate in their deed. From this union, “Dr. Martens made by Solovair” hit the shelves from the mid-’60s to the ’90s.

After that, NPS was trademarked as Solovair and continued the production of cushioned boots, first under its own brand and later for many other companies like Grinders. Less popular does not mean low quality, Solovair is the proof.

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2.2 Materials, Where Solovair Boots Are Produced, Prices (Are They Worth The Price?) and Quality

Several elements make Solovair boots the choice for those who take footwear seriously and point to quality foremost. Solovair by NPS is made in small batches in the UK ensuring each boot is produced at high standards.

Leather, the main material together with PVC, is mainly sourced in Europe and is all of bovine origin. The beauty and variety of Solovair are in the specific leather types with their different finishes.

Classic boots like the Hi-Shine are made with smooth (corrected) leather. Other types are soft and full-grain with the natural leather texture, greasy, patent – you can recognize by its glossy coating, gaucho which wrinkles with usage, rub-off with layered shades, Horween from the States, suede, and Nubuck.

Solovair is also available in a vegan version made of lasting and water-resistant textile of polyurethane and polyester.

The specific price tag for this brand’s boots ranges from £140 for vegan ankle boots to £220 for 14-eyelet boots with steel toe caps.

How it's made: Solovair & NPS Shoes

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2.3 Some Of The Most Loved Designs

Solovair Black Hi-Shine 11 Eye Derby Boot

Solovair Black Hi-Shine 11 Eye Derby Boot
Image from nps-solovair.com

Check out Solovair Black Hi-Shine Derby Boot at nps-solovair.com

This is a real alternative to the most classic Docs boots. These derby boots have both grit and elegance in their smooth and spotlessly polished black leather with refined black stitches designs on both sides. Perfect for city professionals.

Solovair White Hi-Shine 8 Eye Derby Boot

Solovair White Hi-Shine 8 Eye Derby Boot
Image from nps-solovair.com

Check out Solovair White Hi-Shine Derby Boot at nps-solovair.com

Those looking for a showstopper cannot be wrong with these white Solovair Derby Boots. The high-shine leather has a black platform and coordinated stitches, loops, and rims giving this model its irreverent personality.

3. Conclusions: Which Brand is Better?

Is it better Dr. Martens or a pair of Solovair? What a dilemma! In the end, their stories are so tight and boots are so in their DNAs that many easily opt for the Docs.

This choice may have to do with Dr. Martens’ history and its many famous fans, its popularity, or maybe its unconventional appeal.

You know that quality is our top priority and, as we both like shoes that last for years and have personality, then we cannot but highly recommend Solovair.

This brand has been the herald of English shoemaking when other brands were fleeing and it shows us that great shoes do not come in heap. This is a real investment with plenty of color choices for everyone!