In September 2009, I rather excitedly wrote about my new pair of Doctor Marten Shoes. I loved them so much that I wore them almost every day. I polished them, I cleaned them, I genuinely loved them.
But this Christmas, disaster struck. The sole split on the left shoe and the welt came away from the sole on the front, making me squeak as I walked and giving me wet socks every time I went outside in the rain. Not nice.
So, in steps our hero Dave Mercer, Customer services supremo at Soletrader. A few emails later and my obviously faulty shoes were sent back to them for his attention. Looking good so far.
A new pair arrive at my office by return post and a genuinely warm feeling towards Soletrader. It must be pretty tough going being a shoe retailer in a tight market, so to still give this level of service is exceptional.
Thanks Dave. I wish all retailers were as good as you guys.
When I was a child at school. Doc Martens were all the rage. It was the height of the punk era, the birth of the ska era and the death of the disco era (thank god for that). I loved the music of the first two, and I loved the style too. I had a Harrington jacket – you know the one, it’s a black cotton bomber jacket with a tartan lining – but my parents always thought that Doc Martens were a bit too ‘thuggy’, so I wasn’t allowed any for school.
I hankered after the six hole docs that the cool kids had and watched with growing envy as more and more holes were added and the boots reached nearer the knees, perhaps stretching the bounds of practicality in favour of fashion.
But throughout this time, they kept their (mostly) functional appeal and the AirWair sole, that they had taken ownership of in the 1960’s through the Northampton based Griggs family tie up with Dr Klaus Maertens of Munich, Germany.
By the time I started at college, when I was 18 and allowed to make all my own decisions (based on a grant of £205 per year) I either couldn’t afford them or they had fallen off my radar as something I needed to own.
But I’m 43 now and able to make my own decisions again. My recent trip to the US saw me facing the terrible dilemma of ‘smart casual’ being the dress code for the trip. Any of you who know me, would know that this is not a bracket I sit comfortably within. Scruffy casual maybe, really scruffy oik probably, but smart casual would be a bit of a stretch.
So the first thing I needed was a new pair of shoes. Ones I could polish, to replace my exhausted Merrell casual trainers. And the shoe retailer Soletrader had the answer in these wonderful creations.
Now despite the fact it must have been a quieter few years for Doctor Martens, they stuck to their knitting. They still have AirWair, they still have the yellow cross on the sole and they have now added some detailing such as an embossed cross on the rear corner and some clever stitch detailing to give that hand finished appeal.
And they were great value too at £60.
I have also now had the opportunity to road test them through five cities in the US and they have been exceptional. Not a single blister, not a rubbed toe. Nothing. Entirely uneventful, like your most comfortable slippers since the day I put them on.
I’m not sure if that is good branding, consistent attention to detail, or just great quality manufacturing, but my 30 years of waiting for my own pair of Docs has been well worth it.