3 May 2011

Occupational 8249

Occupational 8249 Shoe
3 Eye Gibson
Fine Haircell Leather

It has been over a year since I last owned a pair of black leather shoes, a fact that is quite shocking now that I think about it, however I am a rather selective customer.  My last pair of black leather shoes were a pair of winklepickers, on which I managed to split the soles whilst running through the park in a bow tie one night from certain questionable individuals (an interesting story there, but I shall save it for when we have tea some time).  As much as I liked the design, they do unfortunately seem to belong to the realm of hairdressers and teenagers these days - a realm I am not really all that willing to brave, no offence to hairdressers or teenagers.  But also in the spirit of rebuilding my wardrobe, the classics really call out.  Indeed Yohji Yamamoto (one day I will write a post and not mention him...maybe) is well known for wearing functional classics, namely Dr Martens and Red Wings. 

In searching for some black leather shoes I had a list of criteria that I may have, ever so slightly, obsessed over (I don't just go shopping when I need something - I research).  What I wanted was simple enough though: a plain rounded toe, matte black leather, three or four eyelets, a welted sole, a padded instep, a comfortable insole, solid construction.  Price was not really a concern to be honest, because as is often the case - if you buy cheap, you buy twice - and I am always prepared to sell and save in order to buy what I really love.  Where footwear and outerwear in particular are concerned, it is something you will wear more than anything else, so you really need it to be comfortable, high quality, and aesthetically pleasing.  Where black leather shoes are concerned, I think many men tend to get a bit lazy, because they are so readily available and cheap.  Usually they are "only for work", so that somehow seems to justify buying cheap (in terms of design and quality, as well as price) shoes, which has always sat a little uncomfortably with me.

Curiously however, as much as I looked through the higher end, with the likes of Tricker's, Grenson, and Crockett and Jones being forerunners, it was actually with Dr Martens that I found something I liked.  The classic 1461 was what initially attracted me, however the shape of the toebox and general construction left me uneasy.  Moving production abroad has had a noticeable change on the classic Dr Martens in my eyes - the shape feels like it has been changed, and the construction is not quite what it used to be.  I actually have a pair of deadstock 1460 Dr Martens that are from back when they were still made in Northampton, against which I compare the new models, and for me the older generation had it best.  Whilst that is purely subjective opinion, I know many Dr Martens fans for whom the current crop just do not cut it. 

As is often the case with these things, you find what you were looking for exactly where you least expect it.  In my case it was when looking through the Industrial section of Dr Martens.  The industrial safety boots and steel toe caps are not quite my cup of tea, but when I saw the Occupational 8249, I found what I had been looking for.  The shape seemed to be far nicer than what I had seen from the current 1461, more akin to the longer toe of the 1461 59, and the construction quality was on another level entirely.  The interior of the shoe is actually better made than my old Northampton-made black 1460s.  The soles are still the new slightly more transparent version, but the weight of the shoe is reassuringly heavy (not to mention the safety ratings and what not for it to be used in the industrial workplace).  I actually managed to snag these off eBay for next to nothing, fresh in the box, and have been breaking them in around the house for the past few days.

Initial thoughts?  Comfortable and way better than the current 1461 shoes.  The barely-there industrial stamp on the heel is hardly noticeable, and a small price to pay for the remarkable quality and comfort.  I may actually do an Ervell and spray paint the soles black in the near future in order to make them fully anonymous.

(P.S. Mat got some vintage 1461 PWs way back when - be sure to check out his post).



  1. Such an excellent post about them.

  2. I love them! They're classic yet subversive somehow.

    When looking for basics, I totally obsess over details that I don't think anyone else notices, making it nearly impossible to find things that work. It doesn't help that many times I insist on buying secondhand due to some weird money-saving logic.

  3. I'd say go for spray painting the soles black. I often think of myself as a "researcher" when it comes to shopping, especially I like my idea of "re-con" missions of trying things on in the beginning of the season and then waiting for the sales to pounce.

    Yohji Yamamoto (one day I will write a post and not mention him...maybe) LOL!

  4. I love these - they're both timeless and basic, but so stylish at the same time.
    And yessss for Kid Cudi. I am in love with him and have been listening to him on such a regular basis (I even left the CD in my dad's car and he's been listening to him lately, which kind of worries me out a little!).
    Thank you also for your sweet words on my last post, my dear. You're a lovely soul.

  5. I would have never thought to look in the Industrial range. What a find. I haven't looked at newer Docs, but friends of mine have lamented about the quality of the current range. I still have a pair (with black soles) from when I was a teenager, which have held up brilliantly. A shame those aren't made anymore.

  6. I'm glad you were happy with your new purchase and well, I guess it wouldn't matter if someone dropped something heavy on your toes! Looks like a purchase that will really stand the test of time too!

  7. I love your blog !
    With love Little Sable

  8. classic. i had some dm boots when i was 15. wish i still had them.

  9. i'd like to see the comparison between your old ones and your new ones, and the newer version of your old ones. be really interesting to see, as i wasn't aware at all about them changing things slightly. ah cheers for linking to my post, glad you remembered i had them. i got them next to nothing on ebay too, just under £10. seems like a great way to do it.

    i really like the ankle stamp on these actually, mine is the proper logo but this seems "rare". hope they wear in nicely, mine were pre-worn but are great. although i must say they do feel quite flat after long walks

  10. I love Doc Martens too :)

    Claire M.