Thursday, January 6, 2011

Everything Old Is New Again but Made to Look Old


Manufacturing gets me down. Above, my Doc Martens from 1991. Made in England, purchased from a mail-order company in California because at the time I lived in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Doc Martens weren't available there. My first big purchase with the wages of my first real job: School Janitor. They cost $110. I was 14.

I wore them everywhere in high school, then in college, after which I began to alternate them with several other pairs of favorite boots. They've been with me for over half my life, have lived in every city I have, and have even traveled overseas with me.

Because I love them, and because they are looking very worn, I looked into buying a new pair, a black pair. I learned that they are now made in China (I was tipped off that something was wrong when I realized they cost just a bit more than $110 now, 20 years later). You can even buy them with a "worn" look. Behold.

There's a "remarkable wearing-in process" taking place in Chinese factories to produce boots of mediocre quality (NOW I realize why so many people have recently told me that their Doc Martens fell apart very quickly. I wondered what they could possibly be doing to their shoes). That's so sad to me.

It looks like I still have a chance to purchase the black ones I want from the original factory here. I'll take 20 years of boot made in England for $100 more; would you?

10 comments:

Terri said...

Oh yes! I have no problem paying for quality both in the product and in the lives of the people who make the product.

jess said...

My original docs (circa 1994, I saved months of babysitting money for them!) are still rockin' (though quite a bit worn at this point, but I can't let them go). In 2003 I bought another pair not knowing they had moved manu. to China -- they fell apart within the year. At that point I stopped buying docs. That said, my husband just ordered a pair of the UK-made 8 holes ones via Zappos and he's happy so far. :)

Sparkee Spud said...

Wow I feel your pain. I went to the store the other day to replace my 10 year old Levi's because they were finally all holey, ripped, and baring bits I'd like to not make public. All I could find were NEW holey ripped jeans for twice the price I paid for the originals.

Mneme said...

If I look at this boots I feel sad - I had nearly the same in the mid-nineties: very nice green boots made from Rangers and did cost 120DM (bit more than 60€) at that time. I wore them nearly my hole being-a-student-time but they where quite heavy and some time later I changed to white Doc Martens and gave the green ones to a friend - which I regret sometimes, even if I would not wear it tooo often.
And sometimes I miss the good old times but my shoes now are even as good (and still old looking) - and yes, I would pay some more money for good quality.

(In fact I was thinking about a career in "give me your new things and I make it worn/old looking within 2 weeks")

Elsabeth said...

Hmm... some soles seem to be glued together and others are "Good-year welted" - I wonder if that's the difference? Also, some boots are made out of full-grain/best quality leather, and others are "soft leather" which doesn't need to be broken in.

Makes me sad - I've wanted some Daria boots forever and the 20-eye boots from Doc Martens are the closest I've ever seen.

Moondancer5 said...

As a matter of fact, yes. I just mail-ordered some Grenson Brogue boots from London, yes, they were expensive (but not as expensive as some of the designer-y versions now showing up in the US), but they are made well, and last forever. My only qualm is now I'd like a pair of Church's penny loafers like I once had 20 years ago, bought them on Madison Ave for under $200.--they are now over $400. I know they'll probably last me another 20 years, but, oy!

I really hate this "distressed and worn in" nonsense they are pushing on people. I'll wear them out myself, thank you very much.

Lien said...

Yes, the Doc Marten factory is actually very near where I work, and some of my co-workers have visited the factory and been shown a pair of boots made from start to finish- by hand, by people who have been doing it for a long time. Maybe if they find more and more demand for the English-made shoes, they will start bringing some of the manufacturing back.

Northmoon said...

Definitely I'd pay more for quality. I pay more to 'shop local' too. Although it's sometimes hard to find a product I want that isn't made in China!

random said...

I bought a pair of Matterhorns on sale ($70) for similar reasons. They last.

Anne-Valérie said...

I have a pair of brown leather ones, bought in a trip to England in 1995 (I'm French) they were on sale and I could afford them. I was thinking of buying new ones because they were very resistant but I had no idea they were made in china now... I think my pair can last 15 more years, I won't take the risk to buy chinese one !