my Dr. Martens history

Dr. Martens just opened a flagship store at 391 Queen Street West. Canada’s first ever. For anyone who is a devotee of the brand, it stocks the complete current collection. I had the pleasure of attending a little cocktail to celebrate the opening, and courtesy of Dr. Martens picked up a beautiful new pair which are sitting at the bottom of this (long) post.

When I came home, I lined up all of the Dr. Martens I’ve ever owned. I’ve never had the heart to throw any of them out, even though several of them are no longer wearable. Now that I am moving to London (birthplace of the Doctor), I have to throw out a lot of stuff. Before I lay these boots down to rest, I wanted to record them and their stories. Here is my history, in DMs.

The first pair of Dr. Martens I ever owned I got when I was 14 years old. I was visiting my cousins in White Rock, a suburb of Vancouver, and my cousin Sarah and I found them in a thrift store. Even though they fit her better than they fit me, I insisted that I get them, because I knew there was no way my parents would ever give me $150 for a new pair. I had to wear thick socks with them, and I didn’t even really like the colour, but I had been wanting them so much for so long that didn’t matter.

They’re covered in paint because later in life, they became my grubby boots for doing work in. I renovated two studios in these boots.

The second pair of Dr. Martens boots were the ones I really wanted. Using money from my job at McDonalds, I went shopping in Huntsville Ontario at the age of 16. Huntsville was where my exquisite, 16 year old, motorcycle-riding, snowboarding first real boyfriend lived. The 1460 Quads were everything I wanted in a boot – the super-thick sole, and the rounded toe, were the ultimate in 1990s footwear. The matte finished leather was soft as anything.

I wore and wore and wore these boots for the next five years, until the thick sole finally cracked in half. RIP, Quads. Like my first boyfriend, you were a perfect teenage memory and I will always love you.

I bought my third pair of Dr. Martens with my OSAP money, around the corner from the first studio I shared with my ex at Yonge and Wellesly. They were red patent, finished to look like they were blackened and then with the black worn away. They also had two little “knife-holder” buckles on the side that got caught on everything and eventually had to be cut off.

These boots were hell to wear in, but looked flashy and rad at fashion school. I would re-black them occasionally and then rub the black off – I really dig the contrast, you can see it better in the side view. Eventually these developed a lot of small splits over the toe, and the insole totally got unglued and would bunch up and be uncomfortable.

Following the red patent 14 holes, I took a break from Dr. Martens for a four year long fling with Fluevog Bond Girl boots.

If you’ve been following the blog, you know that I won a certain contest. Because the delivery of the contest-winning boots was taking a little longer than anticipated, Doug who handles the marketing for Dr. Martens in North America kindly sent me this pair of classic 1460s, which I wear frequently, and adore. Doug is awesome, and so are his friends – they spontaneously asked me to have dinner with them last night – having dinner with new friends is the best.

And then they came – the contest boots! They get a little shabbier every time I wear them, but more than anything they give me a boost of confidence and colour every time I wear them. I take them out when I’m craving attention. They always get compliments, and I always get to say that I designed them. No really, I did!

Dedication to the brand eventually pays off, because Dr. Martens gifted me another pair when they celebrated their 50th in Toronto. I wanted the classic cherry reds, but I got these instead – so I decided to try another splatter theme with designer Ashley Rowe, who splattered everything and anything for Fall 2010. These boots are extremely hard on the feet but look so sharp, Ashley really took them from a-little-too-gothy to preppy-arty.

Dr. Martens is so incredibly generous. I never expected another gift, but at the store opening they offered and I would never, ever say no to another pair. I knew exactly the ones I wanted – the cherry-red, made in England, classic 1460s. They’re just perfect the way they are, no customization necessary, but I know once they start getting worn in I’m going to black them up to get the classic two-tone effect.

I love Dr. Martens. There really isn’t any other brand I feel the same level of dedication towards, and the best part is that the feeling seems to be mutual. Thanks, Dr. Martens, for keeping me well shod for the better part of my adolescence and adulthood.

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19 thoughts on “my Dr. Martens history”

  1. That’s fantastic, Danielle. When you are in London you should definitely come up to visit the original factory in Wollaston.

  2. What a lovely post, Danielle! I bought my first pair of Docs I grade 11 at the Transit shoes in White Oaks Mall in London. They were oxblood 3-holes and a size too big so I too had to bulk up with work socks!

  3. Great post, Danielle! I believe my first pair of Docs were 1461 Black Smooths (the clunky non-boot kind) when I was 14 or 15. I had to beg my mom to buy them for me on a trip to the US, since we lived in Hong Kong, where they didn’t sell Docs at that time. I don’t even think they wore out in the three years that I wore them – I just outgrew them, and ended up trading them in for the black classic 1460s, which I wore for two years in sweltering Hong Kong weather.

  4. I really loved seeing Doc evolution via your photos 🙂 Great story! My fave has got to be the pair you designed – they are lovely!

    Got my very first pair of Martens at the store launch. Still breaking them in, but love wearing them around the house (for now).

  5. Hey! Love your post!

    Do they still sell that cherry-red, made in England, classic 1460?
    On the website I could only find the cherry red smooth, which is nice as well…but I wanted so hard this classic model of the picture (the last one)..

  6. I looove this post! It popped up during a Google spree, as I am soon going to buy my very own first pair of Dr. Martens. In fact I am planning to go for the cherry red ones at the end of your post.
    And therefor I just wonder: would you be okay with me borrowing the last picture for my blog? These were the best pics I could find at the moment. I do realize that this is a very old post, and you might aswell not answer, but I hope you will.

  7. Lovely..I just bought my first pair of docs and was overwhelmed by the number of loops. I googled “how to lace docs”, and found a picture of you from Paris…which led me to your blog..which led me to the pic of you in the Sartorialist I was admiring a few days ago. Such a treat reading the story behind the picture. This the first fashion spot I have ever bookmarked, amazing work.

  8. What do you use to add the contrast black? I’m considering black acrylic paint for my green 1460s, but saw this post and was curious. Is it paint or black polish?

  9. The classic 1460’s that you won (black), are those the smooth or the Nappa leather? I’m buying my first pair of Dr. Martens in black and was debating between the smooth and the Nappa. I prefer the style of boots when they look more tarnished over time and was wondering if the the smooth might remain too shiny.

    1. Hi Cody,

      I’ve had DMs in both leathers. I loved the way that the Nappa wore. The 1460s were the smooth leather.

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