Doc Martens originated in Germany but was then brought to England in the 60’s. Since then, the boots were manufactured in England and has become synonymous with British youth movement. However, slow sales would prompt the company to move production to Asian countries such as China and Thailand in the 2000’s to cut costs. The company would retain their England manufacturing plant but are for made-to-order purchases only. The England Doc Martens, since 2004, is considered more special and are more expensive. But how do we distinguish between the two?
British-made DM’s use a leather called Quilon. It is leather of the highest quality and was what was used in vintage models of the shoe. Meanwhile, Chinese and Thai-made Docs aren’t as sturdy and as hard as the British versions. While that may mean that the Asian versions aren’t as sturdy and as durable, it is easier to break into them because of how softer the leather is. The leather on the vintage ones also doesn’t tend to be as shiny as their Asian counterparts.
The soles of the UK Doc Martens also tend to be slightly darker than their Asian brothers and sisters. However, it doesn’t make much of a difference especially after the boots have already aged. Because of that, the colour of the soles isn’t the best way to differentiate between the two. However, the vintage shoes tend to be harder than the Asian ones. The Thai and Chinese DM’s are way more comfortable compared to that of the vintage Docs made in England. This may be because the leather used in Asian DM’s are softer.
The British Doc Martens would have the words ‘Made in England’ on the sole, insole, and the tongue of the boots. However, their Asian counterparts don’t have those. If they do, they are probably fake.
Asian 1460’s have the Doc Martens logo on the side. Meanwhile, UK 1460‘s don’t have the logo. There is also a sizing difference. The Asian-made boots are a little bigger and more comfortable. The yellow stitching may also tend to be a little sloppier in the UK-made shoes as compared to the ones made in China and Thailand.
As Doc Martens has made sure to keep its quality even after moving production to Asia, the differences between UK-made and China and Thai-made are minuscule at best. The obvious differences usually lie in the quality of the leather. UK-made boots have harder and more durable leather compared to the softer ones in Asia. And if you are particular with sizing, you can also tend to feel the differences between the shoes in that regard. However, again, the differences tend to be minor and can only be felt if you actually try to notice them.