Wellingborough is a factory town north of London, known for being a boot-making district. Stephen’s family has been in the boot making business for generations, buying the Dr. Martens brand and bringing the boot to Britain in 1960. Since then Dr. Martens has gradually developed from being a manufacturer of serviceable work boots to becoming a major player in the business of culture – producing a rare, iconic item that connects the dots between youth, music, politics, and fashion.
A lot of machining is involved in making a boot – the moulds for the soles are made on a CNC machine – separate moulds have to be made for every size and every style.
The soles are made from rubber pellets like this, fed into the top of a machine that melts them
and pours them into the moulds. Very hot!
Afterwards the soles are checked on a light table to make sure there’s no stray bubbles. The cavities inside the soles are what gives Dr. Martens their bounce.
he pattern pieces for the shoes are also metal. A skilled technician punches out each pattern piece one at a time, placing them on the hide according to the qualities required for the different parts of the boot, while at the same time trying to keep waste to a minimum
The sewing line comes next – here stitching on the heel tab.
The triple needle machine connects the toe to the rest of the boot.
Eyelets are fed into the top of a machine that punches the hole and sets the eyelet all at the same time.
This type of boot is called the “Capper”, a reissue of a popular 1980s style with a distinctive white band around the top, leather heel tab, and chunky details… like oversized eyelets.
All of the Dr. Martens that are made in England have gold foil stamps inside the soles. The made in China ones are stamped in black.