Boot Me Up

Whilst Carine Roitfeld was getting ready for her book signing up on the 4th floor of Dover Street Market, down in the basement, I was getting my post-fashion-week gnarly feet out to get measured in front of an audience who were chomping on lovely canapes by the Rose Bakery.  An unsightly combination but well worth it for Dr. Martens' new Bespoke project, which has come about because a restructuring within Dr. Martens that means in the future, there will be an output of product that is of a more 'premium' level.  That sounds a bit waffly but if this Bespoke service is a taster of what is to come, then by all means, bring on premium-level Docs…

I've been getting custom-shoe happy these days what with using the Repetto L'Atelier service to create my power combo pumps (which have now already been partially mashed up by the sandstorms of the Tuileries gardens) and now I have a month to look forward to my made-to-measure Docs.  I just didn't realise how much measuring it would involve, hence the slight embarrassment over my stubby talons in the evercool basement of DSM. 



Matt, who is heading up all things premium at Dr. Martens was on hand to talk me through everything and had the wondrous fortune to touch my feet.  Pity the fool…

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The installation itself at DSM is a thing of beauty as Tanner Krolle have made a beautiful trunk to house all the bits and bobs that one needs to get some bespoke Docs on their feet.  This sort of thing just makes me wish my entire wardrobe was a series of leather trunks with a never-ending array of compartments to fill…


You start off by choosing whether you want to go for the classic 1460 8-hole boot or the 1461 3-hole shoe.  The boot is the more natural choice but seeing as I have a crowd of boots that need a bit of a scrub down and an edit, I went for the shoe instead…



In recent years, Dr. Martens has offered every colour, every pattern and every patina under the sun by way of getting in on the trends and err… getting down with the kids (quite literally 'kids' seeing as I spotted neon docs on 7/8 year olds at LFW).  For the Bespoke project, instead of offering unlimited choice, it's about honing in on the best leathers available and being selective with palette so that the emphasis is on a well made shoe, something that is robust for life rather than about flitting about seasonally.  Enter Horween cordovan leathers (don't bleet… it is horse leather but it's 100% a bi-product) which undergo a very slow six month tanning process to get this super sheeny shiny finish. 


Then there are these Kleinkaroo ostrich skins, used by YSL, Hermes and the like.  These definitely add a distinct point of difference to DM's Bespoke project, warranting a price that is upwards of ¬£225.  Not crazy money for a made-to-measure shoe but definitely up a price scale from yer' normal DMs.  I especially love the selective palette they've selected – shades of oxblood, black and tans – which all show up the natural properties of the skins rather than mask them.   


I haven't really noticed the sweat factor of a normal Dr. Marten shoe but with these bespoke shoes, they'll be lined with natural leathers which would noticeably decrease the sweating…


I had to go for the most ostentatious option though.  I've never had a gold shoe because I can only see terrible 90s mules/sandals whenever I see gold leather.  This shoe will change all of that as I've gone for a gold leather with an off-white sole and eyelets, a cognac lining and a natural seat sock.  To top it all off, it will have chocolate brown welt with off-white stitching.  There's a good list of things that need consideration in the boot, a lot of which isn't that discernable to the eye but I love the fact that every single detail is considered so that at the very least, you, the wearer of the shoe can appreciate the secrets hidden in your shoes. 



If you're going for the boots, you can even choose the colour of the loop at the back of the boot…


Then came the vaguely embarrassing bit of getting my ogre feet out for measurement.  I was pretty sure I was going to discover some strange quirk like my left foot was infinitely bigger than my right.  No such luck.  They're both EXACTLY the same size as one another.  There goes my chance of having a 'quirky' anatomical defect to bring up in conversation.  The exact length of each foot is measured along with the ball joint (the widest part of your foot), the waist (yes your foot has a waist) and the instep which to me was a pretty comprehensive list of measurements.  It turns out Dr. Martens will also go one step further and create a last for your feet for those that want that extra step of custom-made-shoes.  This requires even more measurements and in effect, you'd have a last that you can take to numerous shoe makers so that they can do you the perfectly fitting shoe.  Should you have the ¬£¬£¬£ of course…  



I haven't stepped on one of these since getting little t-bar shoes from Clarks as a kid…


Once measured up, there are other bonus bits to pick and choose from.  The colour of your laces (they can supply you with more in case you want to change them).  Again, the palette isn't crazy but weirdly the effect of pairing a purple lace with a tan shoe for instance changes the effect quite dramatically.  These are probably the sort of finickety decisions that meticulously dressed men love to ponder about in a bid to inject a bit of 'whimsy' in their sartorial output.  Ooh get you… purple shoelaces!  How positively mad and CRAY-CRAY!



You can also choose whether you get a shoe horn, a shoe care kit as well as a specially made shoe/boot tree to keep everything in tip top condition.  I must confess I've never actually used a shoe horn to the detriment of many shoes that have been ravaged at the back.  Now that I'm getting one, I'm instilling a sense of order into my shoe life… you'll find me scrubbing away at my shoes with toothbrushes every Sunday now…


I was quite jealous of Matt's own Bespoke DM's in oxblood ostrich that had wrinkled up quite nicely.  The ageing process of most of my DM's haven't been amazing though tolerable because each pair is sort of like a mark of a rite of passage.  I suspect these Bespoke shoes will age slightly more gracefully…


A smart walnut box is the final finishing touch to this rigorously well-thought out concept.  Dr. Martens Bespoke will be living at Dover Street Market for the next two weeks but will also be touring over to Beijing, Tokyo and USA over the next few months.  You can book an appointment here if you're any where near DSM.  There really has to be a part deux to all of this, as I'm hoping to make my way up to Northampton in a few weeks (it takes about four weeks to have your shoe ready with one week of 'grace' period for you to suddenly change your mind) to possibly see my shoe getting finished as well as to see the restructured/expanded factory.  Apparently they're hoping to train up young apprentices to introduce them to the shoe trade in a Jamie Oliver/15 style initiative.  All well and good at this particular time when unemployment is looking ever bleak. 


23 Replies to “Boot Me Up”

  1. That’s very gorgeous – I have a fondness for the Dr Martens brands. Love the rite of passage comment – weird how I’ve just written about rites of passage and then read this. Love how that happens sometimes. And actually DM’s were part of my rite of passage experience, 20 years ago to present – and I’m wearing a blue suede pair now. (Yes I did buy them because they are blue suede shoes.)

  2. I love it when you show us how things are done!
    And I love Dr. Martens too. Too bad they don’t have a shop in Bulgaria 🙁

  3. This is great! I spent last winter/spring in Russia and my docs never failed me there- they’re great shoes.

  4. Wish I could have come to this! I so wanted to see Carine too. Why is it all fashion events now seem to be held on Thursdays? Do the powers that be not want us to get to everything?? Oh well, had a nice time spying Steve’s work at Selfridges whilst this was going on…

  5. Being a nearly 50 blogger, maybe it’s a little sad to remember all those years back, when as a young lad, i was so proud when i got my Dr Martens 12 hole steel toe caps. In those days they were deemed as the real man’s man boot. Thank you for taking me down memory lane

  6. I wish I’m still in London!!! Would def go for Carine Roitfeld’s book signing and making my custom Dr Martens!! :_(
    They never have my sizeee!!!

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