Shoes as durable as Dr Martens in Toronto?
September 20, 2012 12:00 PM   Subscribe

Looking for every-day, unisex walking/office shoes that will last for years - also a brick-and-mortar store where I can try them on (in Toronto, Canada).

I need to replace my everyday shoes.

I would like to get a unisex, plain, black shoe with good support and a wide sole (I have ankles that turn easily - I didn't realize that my shoes were part of the problem until I got good pair of Chagos sandals and it stopped entirely). I would also like shoes that are extremely durable, and which would last at least a few years (several years would be better) of hard, everyday use.

My first though was to get a pair of Dr Marten's. I have heard that the UK-made Dr Marten's are still as durable as they used to be, but $200 is about $100 more than I've ever paid for a pair of shoes, so I thought I would ask Metafilter if there are other options out there that are also as durable and which may be less expensive.

I also wished to double check how durable the Dr Marten's are now (has anyone bought a pair in the last 10 years?), and to ask if there is any difference between the durability of the classic shoe, this plainer version, and the original boot. (Part of me wonders whether I should just get the boots, as they would work better in winter and definitely support my ankles, but then another part of me worries that I'm just channeling my inner 16-year-old who thought combat boots went with everything. Then again, if I'm going for a boot, maybe I should just save $150 and get combat boots - those things really do last).

Finally: where in Toronto I might find a brick-and-mortar store with a large selection of durable shoes to try on?
posted by jb to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (31 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Ecco has stores in Toronto. Mine have been a very sound expenditure and I've had them 3 years. But regardless of make, you cannot wear the same shoes every day and expect good wear out of them; you should change good shoes every other day. If you want to wear them daily, you can expect them to last not as long.

Having said that, my husband's got about 4 year out of this pair of Docs, which are now disintegrating. He wears them daily but put very low mileage on them; I'd expect about 2 years with normal commuter use and daily wear.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:13 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Dr. Martens makes an assortment of shoes and boots that are guaranteed for life. I've been wearing my Docs For Life probably 4 days a week for the last four years; they replaced a pair of smooth leather 8-holes that I wore for about ten years before that. My new pair are softer and easier to break in and are holding up great (aside from the part of the sole I melted on the exhaust of my sidecar rig.)

They were absolutely worth the $180 I spent on them.
posted by workerant at 12:13 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

I got used UK-made Doc Martens (the "classic shoe" ones) off etsy for about $70. There's a thriving used market for DMs because they last so long.
posted by theodolite at 12:15 PM on September 20, 2012

Fluevogs may fit your bill. There's a store at Queen and John.
posted by urbanlenny at 12:30 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

(They're about the same price as the Docs you link, but they have pretty good sales)
posted by urbanlenny at 12:31 PM on September 20, 2012

Classic DMs have absolutely no grip on ice. Srsly. None at all.
posted by scruss at 12:40 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

DarlingBri: were your husband's Docs made in the UK, or elsewhere? Elsewhere on metafilter, people have said that there is a difference.

As for the everyday thing: it's a lifestyle choice. I like to wear the same shoes everyday, just like I like to have the same purse everyday. I would rather pay $250 for one pair of shoes that can take that than have to buy (and store) and store pairs, even if they are less altogether. (Don't most people wear the same shoes everyday? Most of my friends and family, male or female, do, as does anyone with workboots, etc.)

workerant: sadly, the "For Life" doesn't seem to be available in Canada. On their website, they just have the regular shoes (about $135) and the "Made in England" ($220) - and they give no details on the construction of the regular ones.

Classic DMs have absolutely no grip on ice. Srsly. None at all.

This is surprising - they seem to have very large, thick grips?
posted by jb at 12:45 PM on September 20, 2012

were your husband's Docs made in the UK,

Yes. We're on pair #3, all of them made and bought in England.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:49 PM on September 20, 2012

The common wisdom is that even if you want to wear the exact same shoe every day, it's better to buy two identical pairs and rotate them because allowing them to air out between wearings will make them last through more wearings. I have not tested this.
posted by needs more cowbell at 12:50 PM on September 20, 2012 [3 favorites]

Yes. Two pairs of shoes worn in rotation will last more than twice as long as one pair worn every day. The reason for this is that the leather upper, insole, and sock will have the chance to dry fully between wearings; 24 hours is enough for this, but 10-12 hours is not.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:56 PM on September 20, 2012

And seconding Ecco. My husband buys two pair of Ecco every 6 or 7 years, and they last fantastically well.

Since you're in Canada, look at some of the Canadian makers like Santana, Blondo, and Danier as well. I have Santana boots that have lasted forever.
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:58 PM on September 20, 2012

Thirding Ecco.
posted by pont at 1:01 PM on September 20, 2012

As a 25+ year consumer of Docs (which I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit are about the only shoe I wear) I can't really say I've seen a change in quality with the imports, although the look a little different if you compare them side to side. My last two pairs have been Chinese and both have lasted for the same ~three to four years of heavy, daily wear that their UK-made counterparts did. I'm a big guy and I walk a lot more than most.
posted by quarterframer at 1:06 PM on September 20, 2012

Dansko clogs are great. And if you find you like them, the "clog" ones are basically all the same on your feet so you can alternate the style a little if you feel inclined--AND you can get them for about 1/3 of the price, slightly used, on ebay. I've had great luck with this.

And it's true about DMs, they're slippery in the snow.
posted by supercoollady at 1:20 PM on September 20, 2012

Check out Mephisto.
posted by sportbucket at 1:26 PM on September 20, 2012

"Dansko clogs are great...."

But not if, as you say, you tend to roll your ankle! The "Dansko Roll" is infamous.
posted by tristeza at 1:49 PM on September 20, 2012

jb: "workerant: sadly, the "For Life" doesn't seem to be available in Canada. On their website, they just have the regular shoes (about $135) and the "Made in England" ($220) - and they give no details on the construction of the regular ones."

Not trying to be pushy, but yes they are available in Canada. Go to, click on Buy Online, select Rest of World and place your shoes in the shopping basket. Then click on International Checkout. Select a payment method, billing country, then delivery country.

The Docs for Life are made in Thailand, but as I said before they are very high quality.

I swear I don't have a dog in this hunt but if these are what you want and shipping to Canada is what's stopping you, well then.
posted by workerant at 2:30 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Fluevogs with the "F sole" are meant for hard wear and are resolable by any good cobbler, with replacement soles available from the shop and website. F soles have good traction in winter, also. I wear a pair of Turbo boots for winter footwear and motorcycle riding.

Look for sales.
posted by seanmpuckett at 2:39 PM on September 20, 2012

Two suggestions from a fellow Torontonian (*waves*):

The Australian Boot Company (two local stores, one on Queen Street West and the other on Yonge Street between Eglinton and Lawrence) has a nice selection of quality Blundstones, the traditional Australian workboots and some shoes for about the same price as Docs, or less. You can get a basic pair of black boots for about $180. My last pair lasted me at least five years. If you buy them, and the soles wear down, ask the AB Co. For a referral to a cobbler who can resole. The boots are as comfy as Docs without the laces, and they come with little loops so you can get the boots on without needing a shoehorn.

Another store I'd recommend is Walking on a Cloud (store on Yonge Street just north of St. Clair and another in the Yonge Eglinton Centre). I now buy ALL my shoes at the St. Clair store - I wear orthotics, and used to have a terrible time finding shoes that were stylish and comfortable. The staff at this store is knowledgeable and not pushy. (I even bought my latest pair of Blundstone boots there instead of the AB Co.)

You could also try Corso (stores on Danforth and Queen Street East in the Beaches) but although I shopped there in the past haven't been there in a few years.

Good luck!

PS. A friend of mine who is 6'1" tall and has size seven feet wears high tops and hiking boots 99% of the time to prevent the ankle sprains she (yes, she) used to get from rollovers. However she's a research scientist, so the dress code at her workplace is probably more casual than whatever standards you have to meet.
posted by Schadenfreudian at 2:58 PM on September 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Eep! Workerant, thanks for the guide to the DM USA site for us foreigners, but the shipping costs and duties/taxes for a pair of $155 shoes increases the price to $245.

jb, I'd go with the Fluevogs.
posted by maudlin at 2:59 PM on September 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

Don't most people wear the same shoes everyday?

Not if they want them to last, they don't. You can absolutely wear them every day, but then your goal of them lasting for years is unreasonable. Construction workers wear work boots every day, but they are a wear item that is replaced as the old ones become too worn for comfort and/or safety.
posted by crankylex at 3:42 PM on September 20, 2012

I was just coming in to mention Blundstones at the Australian Boot company but Schadenfreudian beat me to it. I've had my current pair for 7 years. (I should really be getting rid of them and getting a new pair at this point.) Depending on the office environment you're talking about, there's also a 'chisel toe' style which is a bit dressier looking.
posted by scrute at 4:21 PM on September 20, 2012

Check out Red Wing shoes.
posted by thirteenkiller at 6:07 PM on September 20, 2012

Apparently Harry David carries L. P. Royer, which are expensive, strictly for work, and Canadian. My dad's had the same pair for years.
posted by Monday, stony Monday at 6:32 PM on September 20, 2012

Sorry, when I was on the DM USA site I looked at international shipping, and it said Canadians should change their region (to the Canadian site). But I'm also not interested in ordering any shoes online - I need to try them on.

I'm wary of shopping at Walking on a Cloud - bought two pairs of shoes from them, only to have both soles wear right through in about six months. But I'll check out the Australian Boot Company.

I don't see any unisex shoes by Ecco or anything from them or Fluvogs in the simple, black unisex style I'm looking for. I really do need a wide sole (not a wide fit but a sole wider than the shoe), and the Eccos look very narrow. I'll check out the work shoes.

thanks for your help!
posted by jb at 7:42 PM on September 20, 2012

Oh, I'm not a research scientist, but I work for a research scientist, and I don't think she'd complain if I did wear combat boots. I think I just meant officey so not yellow with purple stripes. But I definitely want unisex shoes -- I have Mary Janes for when I feel like dressing like a girl.

I have wondered if men's and women's shoes from the same company and in the same style would last differently. Men's jeans last longer than women's in my experience.
posted by jb at 7:47 PM on September 20, 2012

Nthing Blundstones. These are the only shoes that are friendly to afflicted feet (ie. prematurely arthritic...feel no pain with the Blundstones...they'd probably be heavenly for regular feet) for hours on end. Their "shock absorbent" claim is also, delightfully, true. They can be worn in warm or cool weather. With skirts or pants. They happily accommodate big socks, if you're a big sock lady.

Also, if you're a small-footed lady sized 5 or 6, you wear a children's size in Blundstones. Which means they're way cheaper.
posted by Miss T.Horn at 8:11 PM on September 20, 2012

Men's shoes have "medium width" of D; women's shoes have "medium width" of B. I can wear men's shoes with heavy socks and with heel pads, because my width is C, but many women find men's shoes too wide unless they can find "narrow" width (B) shoes.

These Clarks might be of interest, or these. They are not as durable as Docs, but they are also less than half the price, so you can buy two pair and rotate them. Per the website, Corso, Walking on a Cloud, and Orthotic Energy all have them.
posted by Sidhedevil at 8:23 PM on September 20, 2012

If men's shoes are wider, maybe that's why I like them. I've worn men's boots and shoes for years (hard to find women's combat boots at the army surplus), and the Chacos I got are great but were a bit narrow. I should try on men's sizes as well as women's (I'm a 7-8 in men's and 9-10 in women's -- no children's shoes for me).
posted by jb at 9:23 PM on September 20, 2012

Update: I got the Docs, loved my first pair (comfortable, great looking), but I did have a serious problem with the soles cracking in March. I ended up getting them replaced but that took a lot of bother arguing with the manager of the local Doc Marten store (she was giving me some major bullshit, but I took a friend who is a good polite complainer and eventually she just gave me a replacement pair to get rid of us).

We think the first pair may have had a flaw (the soles were softer to start with than the replacements), but the second pair are on probation for the next 6 months-year to see if it was a fluke or whether Dr. Marten's just don't last. Still very comfortable and no foot-rolling.

I also viewed the Fluevogs - they looked great and the staff were friendly and helpful, but they had no plain black shoes. If they come out with a plain black pair, I would definitely consider buying them the next time I need shoes.
posted by jb at 1:06 PM on July 11, 2013

For plain black shoes in Fluevog, next time ask for the Black 760 Turbos, with the Black Banker Lloyds a good second choice. Both of those have the hard rubber F sole, which means they can be resoled by a cobbler, unlike the Docs which cannot.

The Turbo shoes are my next pair; I'm wearing the Turbo boots (just above the ankle) for both winter and motorcycle usage and they are holding up amazingly well, also very comfortable. Just check the page for sales; you should be able to get them for ~160 or so on sale. That's what I'm waiting for....

Good luck with your Docs.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:23 PM on July 11, 2013

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