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What's different about 'Made in England' Dr. Martens?

The iconic British boot is still (sometimes) made in England.

Dr. Martens Made in England.

Dr. Martens Made in England.

Dr. Martens

Shopping Dr. Martens online or in a store, you’re likely to have come across the “Made In England” line. This might seem strange for a boot that was labeled one of the icons of British design by the BBC in 2006, alongside the London Underground, the Aston Martin DB5, and the Supermarine Spitfire fighter plane that played a key role in the Battle of Britain in 1940.

The truth is, Dr. Martens has produced most of its boots in Asia since 2002, limiting its English production to a Made in England line that sells at significant markup (around $80, depending on the shoe and any sales) and accounts for roughly 1% of its product line.

But what’s the difference between the Made in England vs the not made in England boots? What are you paying for, aside from a “Made in England” stamp on the sole and a warm fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting the original factory? Let's find out. Or rather, let's let you find out, because I already know, on account of having written this article.

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How Made in England Dr. Martens differ from the main line

There are a few key differentiations of the "Made in England" line:

  • A felt midsole
  • A stronger welt
  • Tougher break-in period
  • Sturdier Quilon or Horween leather
  • No top collar around the lip of the boot
  • Far more limited color selection

Now that I’ve said all those words, let’s take a minute and go through what they mean (on the off chance you’re not a boot expert).

Felt midsole and stronger welt

In all honesty, I stole this observation from Weston Kay at the Rose Anvil YouTube channel, who cut three of these boots in half and compared their construction. The host cut two Dr. Martens apart and compared the insole and midsole, and found that the Made in England line (as well as vintage Dr. Martens) had a felt midsole that will mold to your foot over time, while still maintaining its integrity. The shoes made in Vietnam, however, have a foam insole that will deteriorate in time.

Similarly, when he disassembled the boot, he found that the welt was more thoroughly attached to the sole in the Made in England boot than in its Vietnamese equivalent.

Break-in period and leather type

Made in England Dr. Martens are made out of one of two leathers: Quilon leather, which is based on the leather used in Dr. Martens from the 1970s, and Horween Chromexcel, which comes from Chicago and is used by brands like Wolverine for its 1,000 Mile boot.

In my review of the Horween Dr. Martens, I found the break in to be noticeably easier than what you find in an ordinary Dr. Martens. General consensus online about the Quilon leather Dr. Martens is the opposite, however: People say the break in takes significantly longer, and is particularly long even for a high quality boot. The trade off, of course, is that you’re getting a more resilient leather upper.

No top collar

If you look at the top of a Dr Martens boot, you’ll usually see a plastic or leather lip. Not so with the Made in England boot, which has a raw leather edge, allowing you to clearly see the grain. The difference is visible when you compare the two boots in the Dr. Martens online shop:

Normal line on the left,

Normal line on the left, "Made in England" on the right.

Dr. Martens

Far more limited color selection

As of writing, Dr. Martens are available in Black, Steel Grey, Peppermint Green, Acid Pink, Cherry Red, White, Green, Navy, Blue, Satchel Red, and Yellow – and that’s not even getting into all the more creative, outside-the-box designs, like the vegan leather-alternative boots and crazy horse design.

Made in England are available in Black, Oxblood, and Tweed Leather combos. If you get into them, you can also see a small variety of colors, but they’re far less bold than some of the more out-there designs available in Dr. Martens main line.

What this means for you

Ultimately, the Made in England is a better boot that will last longer and be more comfortable after a rougher break in. As to whether that's worth the $80 more they cost, that's up to you. You'll just have to look into your heart and see what it screams at you.