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Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Design classic

Most people of my age owned a pair of Dr. Marten 'Airwair' boots at one time. Much beloved by punks, skinheads, and Police officers, they were the 'standard' wear for many years. I wore both the boots and shoes, and a pair of 'Docs' were my usual summer biking boots for many years.

However, they suddenly became very fashionable and available in all sorts of weird and wonderful colours, a move that coincided with a major drop in quality. Quite frankly, they became rubbish and not worth buying. I still liked the style and comfort of their shoes, so transferred my allegiance to the visually similar, but MUCH better made, Solovair brand.
A couple of years ago, (in a moment of madness), I bought a pair of steel toecapped Dr Martens for wearing on building sites, and within 3 months they had split between the sole and the upper! Will I never learn?
However, it would appear that Dr Marten have learned their lesson and have introduced the For Life range, with a very impressive sounding guarantee. Whether they're worth it or not will remain to be seen.
Looking at their website, they now do a range of biker boots, but they look more fashion than practical. Pity, because I think that there's a genuine market for Dr Marten bike boots, but they'd have to have a Gore-Tex liner and pass the relevant safety standards before they'd be taken seriously.
However, back in the 80s the coolest boots to have were Hawkins Astronauts. Made in very small numbers, they were very hard to find. I never bought a pair of their boots (could never find a pair in my size), but had a pair of their shoes. The soles were made by Dr Marten, but were a different pattern to the regular 'Docs', and the shoes were very popular for gentle hillwalking. Unfortunately, no longer with us although the Hawkins brand is still available in Japan.


  1. They were a victim of their own success. In order to make even *more* money they moved production to SE Asia and were never quite the same. Like you, I wore Doc's for many a year and then I discovered that the new ones were far too narrow for me. I remember going to the store I usually bought my boots from and having taken my old Doc's off found that I couldn't get my feet into what they were selling as exactly the same boot.
    I moved on to Caterpillar brand until they did exactly the same bloody thing. Now I wear what fits me.

  2. I never had a pair but always fancied some purple ones - not for biking, just for getting the bus!

    1. My missus likes them and she doesn't have a bike either. She has a purple pair... and a green pair, and a yellow pair, and a red pair, and a brown pair, and a white pair (she got married in these), and .....