Walking on Air(Wair)

pete townshend

When my birthday rolled around this year, Thinfinn asked me what I wanted for a present.

“A pair of Docs” I answered immediately.

Like practically every other young person who came of age in the early ’90s, I had owned a pair in high school that I wore until they were worn out. Mine were navy blue, 8-hole, and I got them during the summer between grades 10 and 11. At the time, I loved them for a multitude of reasons: they looked great with everything, they annoyed my mother (“are you going out to kick someone’s head in?” she would ask as I was on my way out the door), and mainly because I just felt badass when I was wearing them.

When I first met The Finn he was still rocking the pair of 8-hole ox bloods he’s had since the ’90s, and I just thought they looked so cool. After he purchased a pair of 8-hole cherry reds a couple of years ago, I seriously started obsessing on the idea of picking up a pair for myself. I didn’t want to rush into it though. With these boots, the more worn in they are the better, so I knew mine had to be ones that I’d want to wear all the time.

A brief history of Doc Martens: the now-iconic boot was originally the brainchild of German physician Dr. Klaus Marten, who designed them after suffering an ankle injury while skiing in the Alps. Finding the standard-issue army boots of the day too uncomfortable to wear, he set about designing his own modified pair of boots, with softer leather and a cushioned sole. He teamed up with another doctor pal from university and they manufactured the footwear, eventually attracting the attention of British shoe manufacturer R. Griggs Group, who purchased the patent rights for the boots and set about producing them in the United Kingdom.

Doc Martens soon gained popularity amongst postal workers, police officers, and factory workers. The style was adopted by skinheads in the early ’70s which I suppose makes sense, since they are a tough-looking boot. The first musician I can think of who wore them was The Who’s Pete Townshend, and since then they have enjoyed a close relationship with the world of rock ‘n roll, turning up over the years on everyone from Sid Vicious to Joe Strummer to Damon Albarn.

pete townshend
Pete Townshend in '75

sid in docs
Sid Vicious

the clash
The Clash


When I first started thinking about it, I was pretty sure I wanted to go with the classic black 8-hole style. I like Thinfinn’s cherry reds, but I wanted something that I could throw on with literally anything. Plus, the black ones were favoured by my #1 crush of all time, Paul Simonon of the Clash:

paul simonon

With that in mind, Thinfinn and I hit up the Dr. Martens flagship store on Queen West in Toronto.

queen street

And holy shizz, dudes. Are there ever a lot of styles nowadays! I had no idea.

I first tried on a pair of black ones:


but was quickly distracted by all of the shiny pretty things in the store.

Here are but a few of the styles on offer:

white docs
I would so rock these if I could get away with it.

floral print & union jack docs
Both of these are also pretty rad.

animal print docs
You can’t really go wrong with animal prints in general, and these ones certainly make a statement.

floral docs
These are okay, but a little too girly for me.

star docs
Ditto these ones. That’s a bit much.

white polka dots
Here we have some black-and-white polka dots. Bit of a mod vibe.

pink polka dots
Another polka dot style, but too aggressively pink for my taste.

tartan docs
Ohhh….these tartan ones are awesome.

Whatever your taste, there is no doubt something here for you. In the end, I spotted a pair of 12-hole black ones with gold grommet detailing.

spencer's docs

I laced them up, and was very pleased with the results.

spencer's docs

They weren’t exactly what I had in mind when I walked into the store, but they fulfilled my criteria of “classic” and “versatile” with the added bonus of some flashy metallic styling.

So, if you see me stomping around town in my new boots, lemme know what you think!

10 responses to “Walking on Air(Wair)

  • madison b

    Shoes the editors of Kate would definitely describe as being “better than okay looking.” I love them! 😛

  • roininen

    amazing…I`m on my 4th pair of Mr Martens. My first pair was a simple 3 hole black – too chicken to rock 8 holes in Oshawa in the 90’s. regretted my decision immediately. Man go did I feel lame… a long hair rocker with 3 hole Docs – pathetic, may as well of had boat shoes. Not long after I purchased a pair of 8 holes in Oxford England – things felt right after that. I had a pair Brown 6hole with combat soles and just purchased another pair of 8 hole for my wedding!!

    I didn’t know Dr Marten was a skier – AMAZING!!!



  • roininen

    That story reminded me about my brother drinking beer from his Doc Marten’s at a Lowest of the Low show (mid 90’s)during “Henry Needs A New Pair Of Shoes ” when Ron Hawkins sings: “P.F. Flyers, Converse high-cuts or maybe a new pair of Docs” he filled up a Doc with beer and my bro proudly chugged it back!! that dedication to music & Docs

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