A Tour Of The Dr. Martens Factory
Last week I ticked something off my bucket list, a visit to the Dr. Martens factory in Northampton. I know it sounds crazy but I have been wanting to visit for years. I once bid on a tour in a charity auction (not high enough obviously) and since then I have been obsessed with the idea of going. Obvs I love Dr. Martens. I also love products which are made in England. I knew some day, the two had to meet in the middle. Then out of the blue, a few weeks ago, Dr. Martens PR team got in touch with me and asked if I wanted to go and see the factory. I have no idea how they knew how I wanted to go, but they did and I jumped at the chance!
The Dr. Martens factory is based in Northampton, the home of British Shoe making. The factory is on Cobb’s lane, which was actually renamed because of the factory. It is located in the tiny and picturesque village of Wollaston.
The Cobb’s lane factory is the original site of the Dr. Martens factory, from the very first workwear shoes made in the 60’s to their current Made in England collection. While the brand have had to expand some of their manufacturing to overseas, they do still sample each design here at the Cobb’s Lane factory, as well as make all their Made in England collection and any bespoke pairs they are making. Their overseas factories are heavily monitored by the England team, and made to the same high standard that they make them in the UK.
We were lead on a tour around the factory, seeing each stage of the manufacturing process. A lot of the machinery used in the factory is original, so great care has to be taken to make sure that it is looked after correctly. If a part of the machinery does break, there is no spare parts, they have to make the new part.
There are so many different stages when it comes to making the shoes and boots and many members of staff involved in making the shoes. Many of the Dr. Martens employees have been working in the factory for years, the more experienced members of staff train the apprentices. There is such a demand for Dr. Martens, especially the Made in England range, the brand are constantly recruiting new members of staff to help produce the shoes. While factory work has a reputation for having high staff turnover, Dr. Martens buck this trend as their staff truly love the brand and the brand work hard to keep their staff happy.
It’s impossible for me to describe exactly how they made each pair of Dr. Martens shoes and boots as it was a lengthy process and really complicated. We saw them start life as a single piece of leather hide and slowly turn into shoes or boots. In a nutshell, the leather is quality checked, and stamped into shapes, which will form the different parts of the shoe uppers. Much like the way a dress is constructed. We saw the leather start to take shape as a 3d object as it was carefully stitched together with both concealed and obvious stitches. Slowly it started to take on the shape of a shoe, but a distorted one, as there is no sole at this point for the leather to be fitted around. Eyelets are punched and the famous yellow stitching is added to make the boot waterproof. Then the sole is added to the shoe, with lots more stitching as well as melting to make the perfect waterproof Dr. Marten.
I’m no cobbler, so it’s a little hard for me to describe exactly what was going on in the process. So, I would highly recommend you read this page of the Dr. Martens website, as it give an amazing insight into the way they make their shoes. Hopefully my photos will help tell the story better than I ever could too!
After our factory visit, we went to the factory shop. I was utterly overwhelmed and all the rumours I had heard about it being amazing were true. I bough four pairs of shoes and I could have easily bought more! It is possible I will be ‘driving past’ on my way back to my parents sometime soon as I found some amazing items which I am so happy with (for an absolute steal too!). Thank you for inviting me to see your factory Dr. Martens, I loved it!
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