Looking for shoes like Doc Martens brogues but higher quality?

I work in a profession that requires me to ride the line between blue collar and upscale attire. I also value quality and am willing to pay for it. I’m looking for a pair of high quality, thick leather, heavy soled shoes that will take a shine and last 20 years. From what I have heard, at one time England was the place to go for what I want but a lot of the traditional companies have lowered their quality.
Anybody know of companies that still make a heavy duty high quality shoe?


Australian firm R. M. Williams make wonderful boots: not cheap, but they last for decades, and you can wear them with just about anything, business or casual. I own three pairs.

Red Wing.

Yep, Red Wing but focus on their Heritage collection, not their work boots. Alden (Indy) is supposedly even better than RW for casual dress boots. But I prefer RW. Slightly cheaper than RW is Wolverine 1000 series.

Or, if you’re specifically after brogues, you could try Loakes.

John Lobb, St James’ s Street, London.

A pair should last you a lifetime.

Yes, not their work boots. The uppers are fine quality but lately they’ve taken to using shit materials for some of their soles. (There are work applications that require some of those materials, but unless you work in those industries you have other options) You can, sometimes, get the workboots resoled but it will cost you $55-75 minimum. Look for Red Wings that say they have Vibram soles, those will last and can (usually) be replaced.

I’ve handled both Alden and Red Wing boots and shoes as part of my job. I tend to think Alden is high quality but still overpriced for what you get, but hey, what do I know, I’m just a cobbler. That said, if you like Alden boots get a pair and take care of them and yes, they will last 15-20 years, or more, and you’ll get your money’s worth if you get that much time out of them.

Heck, I just got the Doc Marten brogues and love them. I wear them in business casual situations and work and am really happy with how comfortable they are getting as they break in.

The OP’s concern was about quality and durability, not suitability. I’ve been hearing for years that Doc Martens “ain’t what they used to be.” Guys used to wear them on motorcycles and nowadays I know few that would trust them for that (though they were never recommended for it anyway).

A lot of them are made in Asia these days rather than England, and the quality has taken a nosedive: if you handle a pair they feel much flimsier, and there have been a lot of complaints about how they’re only good for a couple of years. DMs began life post-WW2 as comfortable workboots, and for all that they became fashionable later they were still built as such, and would last forever. Now they’re just a label and a pricetag, and they’re only good for a couple of seasons.

Thanks everyone you’ve been great. I didn’t even know Red Wing had a heritage collection. I pretty much wrote them off years ago because their firefighting boots were considered fairly cheap.

With your help I’ve been able to start researching some other higher end boot makers like Oak Street and Grenson. I might have to get a pair of Red Wings and start a saving account for the future. :stuck_out_tongue:

Any other thoughts, let me know

They’re a little more fashion-forward, but you may also want to look at Frye. I have a pair of desert boots that I got for $200 (50% off!) about 5 years ago that I wore like they were work/snow boots. The crepe sole eventually started getting ratty, so I had 'em replaced with hard rubber, but they should last another five years at least.

On that note: make sure whatever you get is Goodyear welt. If the uppers are in good shape, that means you have the soles replaced every few years for decades.

^ This. Can’t emphasize it enough.

And remember: boot oil once a year for oil-tanned leather, shoe cream for vegetable-tanned.

How about these?


(incidentally the short version of the Twelfth Doctor’s new footwear) :slight_smile:

Sorry about the link - I’m on an iPad and I can’t figure out how to get linking and cut/paste to work.

The uppers look great, but that’s a “heat welt”, which is a fancy way of saying the top is attached to the sole by hot rubber/plastic. Mind you, it’s neatly done and textured on top to look like stitching but it’s not a Goodyear welt. Trying to get them resoled would be a pain in the backside, the old sole would have to be ground down to form a sort of welt/midsole to which a new sole would be attached by cement or glue. It’s possible, we do it in my shop, but it’s not nearly as good as a Goodyear welt.

You’re running the risk that these will last only as long as the original soles, which is a shame, because the uppers are going to outlast those bottoms by a considerable margin. You’ll get 2-5 years (depending on how much walking you do and on what) out of those soles, which look at least somewhat durable (hard to say since it’s a picture and now something I can actually handle) before you have either attempt a resole (which may not work) or pitch them.

If you do want to try to get them resole please do not wait too long one that - there needs to be enough of the old sole left to form that midsole I was talking about. Wear them down too far and that’s it, they’re done. Also, if the synthetic they used to make the “welt” is the wrong sort it will simply self-destruct over time, in which case there is nothing to be done.

If you want a 20 year pair of boots look for a Goodyear welt.