Product Type: Dr Marten Hunter Original
Newest Review: ... and get retired to the back of the wardrobe. The thing that attracted me to this Dr Martens offering in particular is the huge array of co... more
Doc Martens: suitable for punks, grannies, teenagers and everyone in-between
Dr. Marten's Unisex 1460 Boot
Member Name: beckyX
Dr. Marten's Unisex 1460 Boot
Date: 11/10/10, updated on 30/05/11 (834 review reads)
Advantages: Comfortable, durable, orthopaedic shoes
Disadvantages: A bit pricey
Once the mainstay of the working class, the Doc Marten 1460 boot has somehow managed to become a cultural icon of the past fifty years. Not bad given that it was the footwear of choice for so many subcultural and countercultural groups over the years - skin heads, punk rockers, you name it, they adopted it. Generations of young people came across and decided it would be their rebellious footwear of choice, which makes it almost a rite of passage into adulthood.
Somewhere along the way it has managed to become mainstream and even the most archetypical, conforming pastel-cardigan-wearing grannies can find something in the Doc Marten range to suit them (possibly not this particular style though). Though if they have any common sense, they shouldn't let that fact on to the younger generations because the teens might suddenly come to realise that their older relatives are tricking them into wearing sensible footwear and that would never do!
The Doc Marten boot, or DM as it is usually called for short, comes in a variety of styles. The 1460 look is the best-known one - eight hole high boots that come up to the lower shin. The boots have a rubberised sole stitched to the leather upper with yellow stitching and a big clumpy boot look to them. At the very top of the boot at the back, there is a tag about two inches long, looped round and sewn in with the logo "Air wair - with soles bouncing" in their iconic yellow coloured writing embroidered writing into black fabric. The sole of these boots is about an inch thick and has a very slight heel to it - I'd say that it is a good choice if you want to be a little bit taller, but don't fancy wearing platforms or wedges.
I have a set of "Cherry reds" which I wear to work nearly every day in winter. These are the most iconic brand of DM boots and were the original version to be released way back in 1960. Although I wasn't even born at the time, I gather that in the late 1970s, every punk rocker worth his or her salt had a pair of cherry red boots. The cherry reds are a fairly deep red colour, not too lurid, just bright enough to give my outfits a bit of colour. They came with a set of black laces and a set of yellow ones (which match the stitching), so I put the yellow ones in just to give it a bit more character. I had to buy a special cherry red dubbin to polish them, which can be a bit hard to get hold of.
The 1460 DM boot is branded as unisex, though they do have some colours that come under the "women's" section. Usually these are a bit smaller and feature some more feminine colours (read: very brightly coloured). The ones branded as for men are much more subdued in tone - mainly blacks and browns.
I suspect that due to its yellow lacing and clumpy style, this style of boot may not be deemed appropriate in an office that you have to wear suit and tie to, but you can always paint over the yellow stitching to make them look a bit more conservative. Or consider one of the more fashion-conscious range of DMs - there are many styles of boots with high heels and a number of shoes as well.
The basic 1460 boots cost 75 pounds from a Doc Marten shop. It may be possible to get cheaper on the internet, but I figured that if I bought from their shop then I wouldn't end up with one of the many imitation brands. The DM shop I went to was in Camden and they swore blind that half the other retailers selling DMs in Camden for 50-60 pounds were selling fakes. I've no idea if they were telling me the truth there, but the boots I tried on in the other stores did have a rather different feel to them and seemed to be of a slightly different cut - they pinched my big toe on one of my feet, so I went with the ones from the DM store which were comfier but more expensive.
Doc Martens comes in an unimaginably large range of colours and varieties and going into a dedicated DM store is something that people prone to migraines should be careful about because you just get hit with such a mixture of bright colours that it can be hard to cope with the visual assault and you'll certainly struggle to decide what colour to go for if you don't already have a good idea. As well as solid-colour boots of what seems like every colour under the sun, there are also a plethora of patterned boots from victorian floral designs to tartan motifs. Several of them are available in patent leather, but most are a more muted colour of regular leather.
I half imagine that if I had been born 50-100 years before I was, the chances were that someone of my station in life (British, female, office worker) would never have been seen in this sort of thing - I imagine that bovver boots would have been far too indelicate and improper. Or at least, that's the image I have in my head anyway and certainly, when visiting elderly relatives of mine as a teenager, they always managed a wry smile about my clumpy boots (their sensible alternative to looking shocked). But chances are I probably wouldn't have been wearing hiking trousers or jeans and a t-shirt to work everyday either. As it is, thank goodness I was born when I was and can manage both "geek chic" and "hiking chic" in the office. No, I know, not exactly the epitome of cool, but it's definitely comfortable and practical.
I've been wearing DM boots since I was a teenager in the late 1990s. In that time, I've got through about half a dozen pairs of boots. I reckon each set lasts me on average about 1-2 years being worn for 3-4 miles several times a week in the winter. For my everyday footwear, I only buy shoes or boots that I can walk at least four or five miles in and DMs manage this comfortably after their breaking-in period
==Breaking in a new pair==
Some people swear that these are the most comfortable footwear they ever had and that they could just put them on and wear them all the time no worries. That wasn't my experience. Once I've worn a pair in, they are very comfortable and I can walk a fair way in them (3-4 miles typically), but the breaking in process takes a couple of weeks during which time my heel is one big raw blister no matter how many plasters I use. It definitely helps to lace them up tightly in this initial period. I recommend wearing them indoors for a few days and go for a few walks around the block before you try wearing them out for any length of time!
I find that the basic pair lasts me a couple of years, after which they crack at the heel and in a line across where the big toe sits. However, I have just found from their website that you can get a special brand of 1460s called the "for life" brand for £110 that will be replaced by Doc Marten when it wears out. I'm strongly tempted to go for these next time, though they don't have them in as wide a range of colours as I'd usually go for.
Pssst, whatever you do, don't tell your teenagers about the practicality aspects. Just let them keep on thinking that they are all rebellious. That way they won't bother with the torture instruments that are fashionable sandals. I mean, come on, most fashion shoes should be banned under the Geneva convention: who else but fashion companies could persuade people to attach a six inch spike to their feet and wrap their feet up in a few pieces of cheesewire? And pay lots of money to do so!
So anyway, back to the DM boots and how much more practical they are than other footwear...
Comfortable soles - The Doc Marten boot comes with a specially developed sole to them called "Air Wair". This provides a cushion of air to the feet and gives them quite a "bouncy" feel to them. Whilst you won't quite be walking around like you are on the moon, this padding does make them very comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
Resistant soles - as well as being comfortable, the rubberised soles are designed to be very resistant too. They are branded as being tough wearing, oil and fat resistant and to give good grip in slippery conditions.
Good ankle support - being a boot that comes up well above the ankle, you get excellent support. This means that the feet are held extremely well in place and even if you have rather narrow heels as I do, as long as you lace your boots reasonably tightly, your feet don't "rattle around" or fall out of the boot, which is what happens to me with most fashionable footwear. It's also good for people who like me have slightly weak ankles that have a bad habit of suddenly giving way. With these boots, I haven't been catapaulted into the road when my ankle turns, which I usually manage about two or three times a week otherwise!
Toe protection - several of the brands of Doc Martens have steel toe caps and are actually considered proper safety boots. But don't assume that they all do - you will need to check it specifically to make sure that it is ANSI/OSHA certified as some of the steel toe cap designs are there as a fashion article not safety boot.
The manufacturing process gives the DM boots its classic stitched yellow stitched rim appearance. According to their website, this is due to a special process that is unique to Doc Marten products whereby the boots are "Goodyear-welted" which apparently involves stitching the boots together (rather than just glueing which is what other brands sometimes do) with a special z-welt stitch and giving it a special heat seal.
Sadly, there are no longer vegetarian/vegan friendly varieties of Doc Martens readily available, though they did used to make non-leather versions, which I found did not last anywhere near as well as their leather counterparts. If you hunt around, you may be lucky.
==A bit of history==
As already mentioned, the DMs arrived in the UK fifty years ago. But they had been around for a couple of decades before that and were developed as an orthopedic boot in post-war Germany by Dr Klaus Maertens. He came to design them following a skiing injury when he discovered that bouncy soles were much more conducive to healing. Fashion-sensitive teenagers will be no doubt horrified to know that before they came over to the UK their initial main consumer of 16 hole high boots in Germany were housewifes because they were so practical and comfortable and made good stompy footwear for all terrain. Then they were discovered by Griggs, a UK manufacturer of shoes who brought them over to the UK.
Not really very rebellious any more. But still hard wearing, sturdy, come in a range of fun to funky colours and well worth a buy. At about 75 pounds a pair, these are a mid priced boot but I think they represent good value and are certainly extremely comfortable to wear.
Summary: Fashionable orthopaedic shoes, whatever next?
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