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Dr. Martens – Made in England

How many shoes do Dr. Martens make in England these days? And which ones are manufactured offshore? Make it British finds out

Dr Martens Made in England Shoe

Dr Martens Made in England Shoe

When I ran an article on English shoes a while back it caused much discussion about the brands that had been omitted. One of the British footwear firms in question was Dr. Martens, probably one of the most well known of English shoe companies. Surely such a quintessentially British brand still make all of their shoes in these isles?

The first pair of Dr. Martens boots rolled off the production line on April 1st 1960 from a factory in Cobbs Lane, Wollaston, England.  The iconic Dr. Martens boot, with its air-cushioned sole, was initially intended as a work boot, but most of its success was down to its adoption in the following decades by various subcultures, including skinheads and punks.

When bankruptcy loomed for Dr. Martens in 2003 nearly all of their production was sent to the Far East, but the business kept the original Cobbs Lane factory with the  hope that one day customers would value the Made in England label again. Now that day has come, and the company is increasing manufacture of the Dr. Martens boot in the UK, yet still the capacity of the Wollaston factory is only 70,000 pairs a year, a mere 2% of the total 3.8 millions pairs produced in 2011.

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Part of the reason that Dr. Martens are only able to make 2% of their total production in the UK is that traditional shoe making is a pretty skilled process, as you can see from this video shot in the Dr. Martens factory, entitled Art of Industrial Manufacture. There are very few people with these skills left in the UK, but Dr. Martens are addressing this with a new apprenticeship scheme in partnership with South Leicester College, in order to train up the footwear craftsman of the future. Let’s hope that in a few years time the percentage of Dr. Martens shoes that are Made in England is well over the halfway mark.

To buy Dr. Martens shoes visit www.DrMartens.co.uk

Comments

17 Comments

  1. Jamie Crampton on March 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

    I well remember the “shoe exodus” of the early/mid 2000’s when the majority of Northants-based manufacturers either ceased or sent things off to China. The loss of Dr Marten’s especially hit a lot of people very hard in the area, whilst it would be good if DM’s came back I do wonder where the staff would come from – those previously trained in shoe production will have moved on to something else by now, and would anyone trust that the Company would not do the same again production-wise if things got tough? Once bitten twice shy and all that.

    • on March 20, 2012 at 11:10 am

      Hi Jamie
      Thanks for your comment.
      I completely agree with what you say about there being a resistance by people to move back into manufacturing in case production moves offshore again. There is also hesitation on the part of factories to take on a larger workforce only to have to lay them all off again when orders drop off.
      Supporting British manufacturing has to be a long term goal, yet I am concerned that Made in Britain is just this years marketing tool to many companies.
      Working out who is genuinely in it for the long haul, and who is not, is not an easy thing.
      Sadly too much rests on discounting and margin these days, and not enough on non-tangible assets such as human value.

  2. finstrum nairobi on March 21, 2012 at 8:13 pm

    You don’t answer the question you pose: which Doc models are made in Britain?

  3. abelandcain on June 23, 2012 at 10:47 am

    It is a shame isn’t it? I have noticed on Dr Martens site that they now write where the goods are made… One jacket is made in Portugal…

  4. rod tucker on July 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

    Hi Kate
    I am writing to you in absolute frustration and desperation to find a place in the UK that sell Doc Martens that are truly made in England after searching the web i have come up with zero except a lot of fakes please please help me thanks

    • on July 7, 2012 at 10:58 am

      Hi Rod
      Have you tried Doc Martens own website?
      http://store.drmartens.co.uk/c-230-made-in-england-mens.aspx
      Kate

    • gavin on June 13, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      im not dure why you cannot find the vintage’made in england’ ones. the problem is they cost £200. they arent hard to get,and as someonme as poited out,try Dr Martens official site where they are £190. The cheapest Ive saw for vintage ones is zlando.co.uk,they are £160. they did the job and wee exactly the same as the ones i got back in the day IE cut your feet to shred s for weeks then they last for years with comfort

      • david55 on March 4, 2018 at 7:43 pm

        Hahahahaha, “cut your feet to shreds.”
        I’m imagining your feet looking something like Jack’s face from
        the movie ‘An American Werewolf in London.’
        I’ve been there and it’s oh so true.

  5. Nigel McKenna on February 8, 2013 at 12:33 pm

    I have to say that I disagree with the comment about there being few people left with the shoe manufacturing skills in the UK. I worked for the Griggs empire (who owned Dr Martens) in the 90’s before being one of the first to be made redundant and all the shoes were made on a track (production line) so you only need to train the person to do one specific job before the pair of shoes moves along to the next stage of production. Many of the people I worked with were young and unskilled including myself but I still left the company with a qualification in shoe manufacturing. I’m sure many of these people would love to return to making shoes in Wollaston given half the chance?

  6. John Robertson asking about sales techniques on February 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Tredair & Solovair are 100% lasted in the UK using soles moulded in the UK and a fair proportion of parts made in the UK. They are both made in the same factory – along with George Cox Airseal which looks similar – 50 yards from the DMs site where their made in england range are done, using similar staff machines and materials. You’ll find links to Solovair.co.uk on other parts of this site. Tredair is the same with a bungee layer in the sole.

    I don’t want to criticse DM’s made in england range, which look great, but our politicians let all UK brands down by excusing suppliers from writing a country of origen on a label. It’s a bit wierd. The difference between horsemeat & cowmeat can lead to statements in the commons, briefings, and jet-trips to Brussels.

    The difference between made in a democratic welfare state and made in the opposite to a democratic welfare state is not even something that has to be written on the label.
    J

  7. John Robertson on February 16, 2013 at 7:32 pm

    PS I think the first DM rolled-off a production line 50 yards from Cobbs Lane Wollaston, in a West Street factory then called Northamptonshire Productive Society and now known for its own Solovair brand amongst many others that it makes.

    Wollaston is place with a very large staff-owned plastics factory called Scott Bader & a staff-owned craft supplies business called Trylon. Historians could spot precursors in consumer co-op supermarkets and various groups and denominations that are still strong in the area too. Good luck to them.

  8. Tomi on November 4, 2013 at 7:10 am

    i really frustrated looking for 1460 or 939 Aztec Crazy Horse Made in England size 8 UK
    do you know where can i find it…???

  9. […] production back to the UK, kickstarting a “Made in England” line that makes up about 2% of sales.) In 2007, a disastrous ad campaign made by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi featuring dead rockers […]

  10. […] of its production back to the UK, kickstarting a “Made in England” line that makes up about 2% of sales.) In 2007, a disastrous ad campaign made by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi featuring dead rockers […]

  11. […] of its production back to the UK, kickstarting a “Made in England” line that makes up about 2% of sales.) In 2007, a disastrous ad campaign made by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi featuring dead rockers […]

  12. […] of its production back to the UK, kickstarting a “Made in England” line that makes up about 2% of sales.) In 2007, a disastrous ad campaign made by ad agency Saatchi & Saatchi featuring dead rockers […]

  13. Sunil on January 15, 2020 at 7:06 pm

    Which site is the best to buy made in england dr martens. I have been looking for a while but there are not much choices. Could you please help me

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