Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Breaking up is hard to do

I'll get right to the point - I'm splitting up this blog.

When I started this thing in 2003, there was still such a thing as a "personal blog". People wrote about the trivia and minutiae of their daily life, and other people read these blogs because publishing stuff continuously on the internet (rather than just having a static site) was kind of a novel concept in the late 90's/early 00's, so nobody realized how boring most personal blogs actually were. It was like an ongoing window into some random person's life - this was a new thing!

But now I along with everyone else just uses Facebook and Twitter to post thoughts and links, although I'm convinced nobody actually reads anything anybody writes on either of those sites, no matter how many followers or friends a person might have. Who cares anymore?

Meanwhile, at some point "blogs" became big and professional and topic-driven, and randomized sites like mine became anachronistic. Engadget, Techcrunch, Deadspin and Huffington Post wrote about something and became top sites on the internet doing it, and they redefined what the word "blog" meant.

I'm a stubborn guy and I held on to the old anarchic and personal ideal of a blog for a long time, but even I don't really know the point of what I'm doing here a lot of the time anymore. I used to get a lot more traffic, and more comments, but I don't think anybody's reading any of this except people who stumble in through Google by chance, after searching for some obscure term like "Japanese crepes harajuku takeshita dori".

I actually mostly write about a few distinct subjects these days. I've linked a couple of these on the sidebar, because I've noticed that a lot of people read those posts but nothing else. So, rather than trying to hold on to some bygone era that even I don't really pay heed to anymore, I'm going to split this sucker up.

It's going to take a while to get things set up, but I'm planning about four distinct blogs - and you can probably figure out what they're going to be just by looking at my last 10 posts or so.

I'll keep this blog for stuff either specifically related to New York or to just random things I feel like posting that don't fit elsewhere. But it's probably going to be a lot less frequently updated. (Not that I update it all that frequently as is.)


  1. Gojira6:43 AM

    you forgot ovation and takamine mini colelction

  2. I just bought the vintage 1460 I hope they fit I'm a 8/12 or 9 I ordered a size 8 I hope they fit. I have a low cut mie size 8 that fit loose and a sandle made in Thailand size 7t hat is just right. You would think that how expensive they are they would have half sizes and better size chart

  3. Billy Beefcaked10:34 PM


    I have been wearing DM's since 1994 and own several "Made in England" pairs and several "Made in China", so I feel I am pretty educated on the differences between the two and the quality between the two.

    I just purchased a MIE pair of 1461's in February because my MIE's I had purchased in the early 2000's soul had finally warn through. Amazingly the leather was still just fine.

    Anyway, the new pair that I have now quality wise are identical but comfort wise CANNOT COMPARE AT ALL. Pure and simple there is no insole in the shoe. I though possibily there was a mistake so I called DM about it, and they confirmed that the souls now are a hard HARD leather plate. You can tap it with your knuckle and it literally sounds like you are tapping a counter top. It blows my mind they are like this and I even said to the lady I spoke to that this is a game changer for me.

    Now over the years I've owned "China DM's" (1460, 5093) and they have been absolutely fantastic shoes. The 5093's I've had since 2005 and are still in great shape. The souls on those are not only 10 times more comfortable than my new Vintage 1461's, but they've held up incredibly well.

    So what did I do about my Vintage 1461's that are very uncomfortable? I just boxed them last week and they will remain there for who knows how long. Hell, maybe I'll donate them to a time capsule or something.

    I just got my brand new pair of 1461's (China, Product Code #11838001) for $110 via Dr. Martens website, and out of the box they are 100 times better than the Vintage 1461's I've been telling you about. For the last week I have absolutely loved my life again and cannot believe the difference between the MIE's and China's now.

    The build and quality of the leather, the soul, the stitching....EVERYTHING is excellent. There is nothing wrong and actually everything RIGHT about the DM's China. I truly believe that the China DM's are superior especially now that I've had a pair of 5093's for 9 years, 1460 brown boots (china) for 4 years, and now these China 1461's......I'll never go "MADE IN ENGLAND" again.

    So there are my 2 cents I hope it helps.

  4. I have several pairs of Doc Martens never worn that I can't find online. Vintage of course but I can't even find the numbers. I have contacted Doc Martens so we'll see just would like a round about price for them.....

  5. MadeinEngland8:48 PM

    I have two pairs of 1490's (both in red, both size 9), one Thai made and the other made in England. I don't care about the political aspects of this question - at all. Here's my thoughts:

    The first, and most obvious difference is the leather. Like others have pointed out, the MIE boot has thicker leather (this is most noticeable at the tongue). But also, the finish on the leather with both of these boots is VERY different. The MIE boot has a duller, sort of a "pebble" finish, while the Thai boot is very slick, sort of "plasticky" as others have pointed out. That isn't a criticism - they are NOT plastic... just very slick.

    As Jeff said, the MIE is slightly smaller in length, but he is wrong about one thing: The MIE is MUCH narrower in the front of the boot. Across the ball area of the foot, my MIE are about 1/4 narrower, and not just the last, but the sole as well. I think that he may have missed this because he went a size up on his MIE's.

    Another thing, and this is the big difference for me, and why I think the MIE boots are actually worth the extra money: The arch support and the stiffness of the heel on the MIE boots are A LOT better on the MIE's. In fact, the MIE feels like a true "orthopedic" shoe, as well as a work boot.

    I'm not saying that the Asian boots are bad (in fact, I just ordered a pair for my daughter), and I can see why some people might prefer them to the MIE's. My take is basically this: The Thai boots are a great bargain (can be found for under $100 on the net), but they seem to be more along the lines of "fashion" boots than "work" boots. Again, I'm not saying that you should automatically decide the MIE's are better, but they are quite different and I prefer them. Just like the difference between a sports car and a 4x4. Which one you want all depends on how you are going to use it. For me, I will only buy the MIE boots in the future, I really love them.

  6. MadeinEngland8:49 PM

    Sorry - I meant to say "1/4 of an INCH" narrower.

  7. If my China made one is perfectly fitted then needed to a size up on MIE's, is that right?

  8. MadeinEngland12:20 AM

    Well, the MIE are definitely narrower, and significantly so. My MIE's are just about perfect, and the Thai boots are just slightly too big. I compensate with different socks. I think I would advise ordering a size up, and if they are too big you can always do an exchange. I will take this opportunity to mention another obvious difference: The sole on the Asian boots is very slick - especially on smooth concrete. The MIEs are not. These days, I wear the Asian boots in the snow or to do yard work. All other times I wear the English boots. I like the Thai boots - but LOVE the English.

  9. MadeinEngland12:32 AM

    One last thing - I notice that many commenters have suggested that the insole is much harder on the MIE's than the Asian boots (some have compared it to an almost wood-like feel). I agree completely - the MIEs are MUCH firmer in the footbed. But again - and I cannot stress this enough - that is a big reason why they are worth the extra money (for me). Orthopedic shoes are supposed to work that way - soft soles to absorb shock, firm insoles (and heels) to provide support to your feet and lower ankles. The result is a big, firm, clunky shoe that makes you feel really rooted to the ground. If you have problems with your arches you know what I am talking about. But again - this is me speaking - and you might prefer the Asian boots.

  10. Thanks for your reply. i ordered 'a size up' MIE's and waiting for delivery.

  11. 10 years ago, I first encountered this issue in a shop in Moscow

    They had two very similar boots with a 3x price difference and shocked as I was,I decided to grill the manager about this. She told me that the cheap model was current year China, while the eyewateringly expensive pair was one of the last NOS English Martens left in Russia - and I thought she was conning me with the usual top of mind used car salesman BS... Nope.
    Tried both, totally different. Came as a shock I remember even now, that such similar looking materials not only COULD, but actually WOULD add up to such vastly different feels.

    Unfortunately, my super-wide foot meant that with Martens shape, I needed to go up a size (for UK ones only, but -not- new Asians), and that put me into the most common men's size in the country - and the one that was sold out everywhere for old UK's. I too would guess some, but clearly NOT all the vocal disappointment from loyalists with new Asian models came from the assumption that re-purchasing the "same" would involve simply buying an item of the same name and size...some - due to the unbroken feel... But materials did differ for sure, else I wouldn't have been so shocked as to remember it in vivid detail a decade later.

    I ended up overlooking the then-common local association with Grinders as THE telltale sign to spot a Nazi, and going with UK Grinders Bulldogs instead (NOTE: compared to other shoes, UK Martens from early 2000's ran narrower than usual - while Grinders are easily the widest standard shoe I've ever seen anywhere)

    GOOD call, still have em, still strong, even more bouncy airsole... Scuffed just a tiny bit on the front after 10 years, though, still great but beginning to clash with a business casual look, so back in the market now and researching again...now if somebody'd just tell me whether Grinders sizing is still the same on current UK models - cause the durability factor I can attest to! Dunno if it was a special for that market since I'd never seen such offerred elsewhere, but I bought a second pair of Grinders that year for winter, a model with some manner of wax afair to counter all the crap Russian gov't scattered on pavements for traction and de-icing, as well as fur lining inside for warmth....and that pair died much like any other shoe. Switched back to my summer Grinders UK, expecting the same just with cold feet, and instead wore them 10 years straight rain or shine, sleet or snow, -35 C to -40 C without ever an issue!

  12. PS if the fur and wax thing sounds unlike any Grinders ever sold in your area, dont just assume my negative experience with non-UK's is with fakes...Russia back then was brimming with all manner of punks, goths, hooligans etc. who were absolutely enamoured with "TRUE oldskool" made in Europe staples. As its economy suddenly surged from Bangladesh-type figures to being 2-3 times poorer than the West but still in the same order of magnitude, it made for a veritable stampede for such "luxury goods", just as UK manufacturers were folding under the stress of competing with mass market footwear elsewhere. This market was all the more bigger because it had millions of brand afficianados who were just shopping for their firsts, rather than the challenge of trying to resupply an ageing fanbase that went casual faster than their indestructible boots wore out.

    Those brands got a new lease on life out of Eastern Europe, so specials like winter gear for markets that required it wouldn't be too strange.

    Also, with the notoriously rowdy fanbase and "wild east" morals at the time, messing with punks and Nazis' fave footwear was widely considered a literally fatal mistake there. People would actively joke when ripped off on other items that they just wished the retailer at fault would get the genius idea of selling fake stomper boots next, cause that'd surely be their last mistake ever

  13. Valid criticisms, even despite the weight given the single subjective personal one: width.

    On width and sizing, different competing brands cater to different basic foot shapes, often polar extremes.

    Useful observations:
    UK Martens are THE NARROWEST male shoe type I've seen yet, any category
    UK Grinders are THE WIDEST, " , "

    ...might explain the polarized fanbases. Also MIGHT just explain the "loved em as a kid, now they suck" reviews so often blaming China or QC or manufacturing attitudes - adolescents are simply generally lighter, thinner, and have narrower feet with fewer foot-related issues like fatugue, swelling, high blood pressure, diabetes...

    f your boots age with you, they might stretch to accomodate any such changes, moreso if they're so broken in they're about ready to fall apart. A new pair of boots, NOS, from the very same batch as your old faves from your teens - identical in all respects - might NOT even fit at all on your current, nostalgic self, even aged ~30, much less 40 or 50

    (choice of ages not random, since the old nostalgic pair seems to get replaced every decade or so... also not teasing or judging whatsoever, since I'm very much a typical member of the above set myself)

  14. One man's epic win is truly another man's pure fail...

    Narrower? Stiff heel? Good to know - PASS.

    I dearly looove my competitor brand (Grinders) UK stompers for precisely the opposite reasons:

    1.WIIIIIIIIDE sole
    2. BOUNCY heel, so bouncy in fact it lends itself to a wholly different speedwalking gait - basically dropkicking forward with a straight leg, slamming the edge of the heel into the pavement to propel you forward on the bounce... with a wide stride, you'll be passing astonished joggers effortlessly, without even intending to walk fast at all
    3. NO ARCH SUPPORT - I have no arch to speak of to support, lol... Curiously, it works wonders for the truly flatfooted - unlike the passionately hated orthopaedic arch supports my well-intentioned but misguided mother forced on me as a kid

  15. ...or bouncy-heeled hard-soled UK Commando/paraboots

    The gripe with "orthopaedic" shoes is they all address ONE SINGULAR PROBLEM (of a multitude of possibilities), but are routinely pitched as not just a cure-all, but...a MEDICAL DEVICE recommended by DOCTORS, for ALL manner of foot issues.

    We routinely forget that, if it were in fact so effective, thenn said "orthopaedic" shoe would also be COUNTER-INDICATED for the healthy-footed.

    Sorry to say, but the very naming of this iconic boot highlights the snake-oily marketing claims...as does its success and high profile with youth subcultures, all despite flopping hard among its intended target audience (ageing labourers with health concerns)

  16. getsuga042:58 AM

    i have 3 pairs. asian cherry 1460s, asian eldridge and MIE douglas. my asian 1460s and eldridge are pretty comfy though i haven't used my prized MIEs yet.... i hope you update this blog more. if you read the card with the MIE, as i undertand it, there should be no real difference, with asian-made and MIEs, but its just that there are some people who prefer the label thus the MIEs.

  17. hmuenster2:27 AM

    I just bought a pair of made in Thailand "For Life" 1461's about a month ago - my first pair of DMs. I'm loving them so far. I wear an 8-1/2 US shoe and got the UK 7 DMs; they fit just great and were comfortable from day 1 with no break-in period needed.

    I have no idea what to expect in terms of how long it'll be before I need to send them for repair/replacement under the "For Life" warranty. I hope that there are no hassles.

    Also - just today I found a pair of like-new 1461's at a thrift store for 20 bucks in exactly my size. So now I have a matched set of black and brown. Today was a good day!

  18. getsuga047:08 AM

    my MIE douglas actually has a lot of "tool" marks... both of my 2 "china" made ones are actually pristine with maybe minor to no manufacturing issues. I also plan to buy comfort insoles for my douglas. still haven't worn them though. loathing to walk on a $280 pair (originally $400). :)

  19. Just curious does anyone here have any experience and or opinions concerning Docs made in Portugal? Specifically I'm checking out a pair of zippered ones called "Ziggy" that were made in Portugal.

  20. Oronoka10:56 PM

    I’ve been trying to determine which size to order for 1460s made in England. I am a men’s US size 9.5 (with somewhat wide feet) and I’ve called the order line for recomendations twice and gotten two different answers.
    One person told me to size down to a UK 8 and said that the quilon leather would stretch out. Said I would end up swimming in the 9s.
    The other person said I should size up because the leather wouldn’t stretch enough.
    What would your advise be?
    BTW – I went to a local store at the mall and tried on both sizes of the Asian version. Size 8 felt ok but the 9s were too big.
    Thank you thank you thank you for your help.

  21. Cormic1:40 PM

    I've owned docs since 1991, and took a bit of a break during the 2000s, and was recently inspired to pick up a new pair. So I got a pair of the Thai 1490s after doing some research and trying on several pairs in the store. Being that I have really small feet for a dude, I ended up getting them in a UK women's size 5 (which is supposedly a US men's 6). The smallest UK men's is a 6, but I'm really glad I was forced to try a women's size, because it actually fits a lot better and the toe area is not as overly roomy compared to the mens.

    I've worn the Thai boots for a few weeks, and they're really comfy after the break-in, which was pretty quick. So, I decided to get a pair of the MIE as I was wondering why my Thai ones looked slightly different to the boots I had in the 90s. Here's the difference. So some have point out, the shape between the "original" line and the "Vintage" line are slightly different. The Asian one's are made with a comfort last and the Vintage with a 59 last. The comfort last makes the front of the boot more roomy compared to the 59 last, but I've found the Vintage to be plenty roomy. The shape of the vintage is more straight, and the toe is slightly more square (the same as I remember from the 90s), while the Asian one's are slightly more round and larger. This may or may not make a difference to you, but I feel the Asian ones look just a tiny bit more clownish due to the large front. I measured the widths of the soles on both of my size 5s and the Asian boot is about 1/2 cm wider than the Vintage. These are all incremental differences and may mean nothing to anyone other than myself, but I tend to notice these things.

    It should be mentioned that the women's Asian docs are shaped slimmer compared to the mens, so if someone feels the mens Asian docs are too roomy in the front, I'd recommend getting the same size in women's. The women's are actually cut more similar to the vintage line, the major difference being that they're slight more rounded at the toe and 1/2 wider at the largest wide of the sole, hence the slightly more rounded look.

    The Vintage one's are suppose to be unisex, and have obviously taken mens feet shaping into account, so people with narrow feet (especially women) may find them to be a little roomy, but an insole would fix that immediately.

    Quality wise, I feel the leather on the Vintage maybe a bit better, but the construction of the Asian ones are equality as good. I'm still very happy with the Asian ones, and will continue to wear them, but I feel I favor the vintage ones a tad bit more. I still need to break the vintage ones in, but the leather feels soft, and I'd imagine it's not going to take very long to do so… certainly not as long as some people make it out to be.

  22. mn_catholic1:14 PM

    I'm a 9.5 C (narrow feet) and I'd recommend sizing up to a UK 9 (US 10) in the MIE line. I've owned a pair of the older black MIE 1460's since 2010 and recently bought a pair of oxblood MIE 1460's, both in UK 8 (US 9). The older 1460's actually fit (barely) lengthwise but there was no room for an insole, which was a problem with the very hard sole. The new ones actually fit a bit worse lengthwise due to the thicker leather. I'd recommend sizing up and then putting in an insole and wearing thicker socks if they feel a bit big.

  23. mn_catholic1:25 PM

    I've had two pairs of MIE docs since they moved general production overseas, and I can attest wholeheartedly to Jeff's observations. I bought my first pair of MIE's in 2010 and breaking them in was awful. I had bleeding blisters on the back of my right heel for over a month and came very near to giving up on them altogether before they finally broke in. Even after being broke in, the soles always seemed pretty hard compared to the old-school Docs I wore in the 90's and early 00's. That pair finally wore out this year so I bought a new pair about a month ago. This new pair definitely has thicker leather and has also seemed to break in much faster; I'm still getting some blisters but not nearly as bad as with the last pair. The sole also seems a lot "bouncier" and more like the boots I remember. I'm still beating myself up over tossing out my pair of "aztec crazy horse" 1460s in 2002 because Docs were no longer "in style!" I also agree that if you are between sizes you should size up and wear insoles and/or thick socks. My older pair of UK size 8 (US size 9) MIE's fit (albeit just barely) so I thought I'd try another UK 8 in my new pair (I'm a US 9.5 C Brannock size). Because of the thicker leather the new ones are actually the tiniest bit too short; literally 1-2 mm of extra room at the toe would make all the difference in the world. I'm thinking I might be able to get the UK 8 to work once the leather and the sole are fully broken in, but if/when I get another pair I will size up for sure.


About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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