One of the reasons why Doc Martens is a famous brand is because of the high-quality leather it uses to create its iconic footwear. It often lasts for more than ten years, given proper care! If you’re wondering what type of leather DMs use, you’d be glad to know that there is more than one!
Doc Martens uses 25 types of leather for its footwear, including Smooth, Patent lamper, Vegan, Gaucho/Crazy Horse, Nappa, Virginia, Greasy, Carpathian, Arcadia, Grizzly, Suede, Buttero, Ajax, Softy T, Brando, Quilon, Boanil Brush, Hardlife, Temperley, Antique Temperley, Danio, Analine, Kaya, Petrol, and Burnished Servo.
Excited to learn more about these leather types and figure out which one suits your taste? Fret not because I have written a detailed description of each leather material below! Bookmark this page and share it with your fellow Dr. Martens enthusiasts.
Are Doc Martens real leather?
Yes. Dr. Martens use real leather for their boots, shoes, platforms, and sandals. The most common material they use is Smooth leather which is hardwearing and shiny. But they use 24 more types of leather for their other footwear styles. They also have styles that are made of Vegan leather, which is made of 100% synthetic material.
Types of leather Doc Martens use
1. Smooth leather
The classic Smooth leather of Doc Martens is made of corrected grain sourced from Argentina. It is very durable and quite stiff in the beginning, but it becomes more comfortable with every wear because it molds to your feet, making the boots look like it is personalized for you.
2. Patent lamper leather
This leather is a PU-coated split sourced from China. It’s a favorite of many because it is not as stiff as the Smooth leather, plus it is also very eye-catching. The finish of this leather is hard and glossy, so it reflects light. It is also waterproof and very flexible so it is made into hiking boots.
To maintain the quality of this leather, you should use Ultra Protector and keep it in a soft cloth bag. The 1460, 1461, and 1490 come with this leather type, too.
3. Vegan leather
Technically, vegan leather is not an actual leather as it is made of man-made materials. Doc Martens use two types of vegan leather— the Felix and Cambridge Brush.
- Felix: This is said to be the alternative to the Smooth leather. It is a polymer-synthetic material and is also known as microfiber. The great thing about this vegan alternative is that its filament fibers are extremely fine. When you reverse the leather, the flesh side looks like real leather.
- Cambridge Brush: The Cambridge Brush has an antique rub-off finish and is also two-toned! It is a non-woven material or polyurethane coagulate and is given its glossy finish using a mopping machine.
4. Gaucho/Crazy Horse leather
This is a full-grain leather sourced from Thailand. It has a distressed look because of the tanning technique it went through. You can see the distressed impressions in the creases, especially when worn all the time. It is super lightweight and has a thick, waxy finish.
5. Nappa leather
Nappa leather ranks high when it comes to softness and smoothness. It is also very supple and pliable, which makes breaking in not that as difficult as the Smooth leather. Another thing to love about this leather type is that it has a matte look.
6. Virginia leather
Similar to Nappa, Virginia leather is made of fine grain leather that is quite soft. It is treated to become more supple and smooth. You won’t have trouble breaking into this leather because it stretches and is very comfortable. In fact, many Docs fans claim that you don’t have to break into this at all. It is also pretty lightweight.
7. Greasy leather
The Greasy leather is exactly that— greasy! It has an oily coating which makes it look waxed and greasy. The matte black finish also makes it more iconic, which is a great alternative to the shine of the Smooth and Patent Lamper.
8. Carpathian leather
Similar to the Greasy leather, the Carpathian also appears oily. It is made of soft premium full-grain leather that is highly flexible. It also has a naturally tumbled texture.
To keep the oily appearance of this leather, it should be treated with Wonder Balsam. If you fail to do this, the Carpathian will look really dry and road-worn as it ages and it would develop creases.
9. Arcadia leather
The Arcadia is another type of smooth and glossy leather that is made more unique through special treatment. It has a two-tone finish, with a lighter color visible in the heel and toe area. This leather looks like something you display in a gallery because it truly is stunning to look at.
10. Grizzly leather
If you are after a grainy pebbled finish for your boots and shoes, the Grizzly leather is perfect for you. It is quite soft, but don’t be fooled as it is heavy. Unlike other types of leather that develop a distressed appearance as it ages, the Grizzly goes through patina, or in other words, it darkens through time.
11. Suede leather
Suede leather is another classic material used for Dr. Martens. It is pretty lightweight but highly durable. It is also water-resistant despite having a soft finish. The only downside of Suede leather is that it needs extra protection against stains and dirt.
12. Buttero leather
The Buttero leather has an Italian origin. It is made of soft and premium full-grain leather that is quite supple to the touch. It also has a satin gloss sheen, and it doesn’t need breaking in, unlike other leather types.
This leather scratches easily, so you have to be extra careful if you wear a Docs made of this material.
13. Ajax leather
The Ajax is no ordinary leather. It has a PU coating and is somehow stiff, so it takes some time before to break in. The Ajax also has a matte finish that is lined with fine geometric emboss. These geometric designs make the leather look even more unique and textured even from afar.
14. Softy T leather
The Softy T is made of full-grain leather that is smooth to the touch. It is very natural-looking because it is treated to be soft and supple. Doc Martens often uses this leather in footwear styles that need detailing, such as embellishments and embroidery for Docs for women. One great example is the very feminine boot 1460 Vonda which is embroidered with roses on the side of the boot.
15. Brando leather
Brando is a hardwearing full-grain leather that has a waxy finish. It is often used by Dr. Martens for their sandals and bags. Brando is somewhat smooth-looking when new, but as it ages, its appearance looks more distressed— perfect for those looking for vintage-looking sandals and bags.
16. Quilon leather
The Quilon is a heavyweight version of the Smooth leather. In 2007, Dr. Martens recreated several boots from their archive, aiming to make them heavier. They found the correct equipment in a craft tannery in Holland. To this day, they source the Quilon leather from the country.
The Quilon is sought after because of its grained effect and contrasting brown hues on the side. It is quite stiff, but once you have broken in, it is one of the most durable leather of Dr. Martens you’ll own.
17. Boanil brush leather
The Boanil is a hi-shine leather that is often used for formal shoes and boots. It features a subtle two-tone effect that is developed by hand. In other words, every pair of Docs that is made of Boanil is unique. In addition, the Boanil has a natural backing, and it appears as if it is non-dyed.
18. Hardlife leather
Hardlife is a milled leather that is oily in appearance. In the process, the tanner of this leather put extra grease and wax to make it last longer. This also results in the waxy appearance of the leather even after years of use.
As this leather ages, it becomes more supple. However, make sure that you take proper care of it by repeated treatment of Dubbin and Wonder Balsam.
Temperley is a classic leather that traces its root in Argentina. The workers from the leather tannery in Argentina named the leather Temperley as a homage to the founder of their town, George Temperley.
This leather is unfinished, so you can expect shoes made out of this material to be natural. You can do your desired finish for this leather— polished or dry.
20. Antique Temperley
Unlike the traditional Temperley, this Argentinian sourced leather undergoes a three-stage process, but this doesn’t take place before the leather is made into boots or shoes. Doc Martens creates the footwear using the unfinished Antique Temperley leather and then does some finishes, which include dying, waxing, and polishing.
The end product is leather with classic shine and a two-tone effect. It also has tight, fine grains because of the high-quality hides used.
Danio is made of Nappa leather with a naturally milled effect, just like Italian leather. It is pretty soft and lightweight, and it’s processed to create various colors. It is not difficult to break into the shoes if it is made of Danio because of their softness.
Analine is a type of leather that is now rarely used by Dr. Martens. This leather has very little finish from the tannery. It is only coated with clear wax, so the natural grain of the leather is very visible to the eyes.
The Kaya leather is made of classic Nubuck. To create its suede look, it is dyed and dried in the tannery and goes through the buffing machine. This buffing process removes the top grain of the leather, so it becomes rich and smooth.
The Petrol leather is really stunning when used as a material for DM shoes. This is an Italian-made Patent that has a multi-tone effect comparable to petrol in water. The Pascal boot of Dr. Martens used to come in this material.
25. Burnished Servo
The Burnished Servo uses high-quality hides from the United States. Often, it is polished or burnished to achieve a natural look. It is also processed to produce different colors. But all in all, the Burnished Servo makes smart-looking shoes.
Frequently asked questions
Do Dr. Martens use pig leather?
According to Dr. Martens’ post on its Twitter account last Mar 31, 2017, the only Dr. Martens shoes and boots that use pig leather are those that are made of Soft Buck. However, as of today, Dr. Martens no longer reveal the source of their leather. But they clarify that they do not use the skin of exotic and domesticated animals.
Do vegan Doc Martens last as long?
Vegan Dr. Martens are durable, but they don’t last as long as real leather because they are made of synthetic materials. They can last anywhere from 5 to 20 years, depending on how much you care for them and how often you use them.
Which DM leather is the hardest to break in?
The Smooth leather, which is the original material used for Doc Martens, is the hardest to break in. It’s really stiff, and it can take several weeks before you can fully break into it. Despite this, it is one of the most durable leather of Dr. Martens.
Types of Leather used by Dr. Martens, Final thoughts…
The good thing about Dr. Martens is that it uses several types of leather! You have a lot of options to choose from, especially if you are very particular about the leather used for your boots and shoes.
Here’s a recap of all the types of leather used by Doc Martens:
- Smooth leather
- Patent lamper leather
- Vegan leather
- Gaucho/Crazy horse leather
- Nappa leather
- Virginia leather
- Greasy leather
- Carpathian leather
- Arcadia leather
- Grizzly leather
- Suede leather
- Buttero leather
- Ajax leather
- Softy T leather
- Brando leather
- Quilon leather
- Boanil brush leather
- Hardlife leather
- Antique Temperley
- Burnished Servo
If you really want that Doc Martens DNA reflected in your footwear, always go for the Smooth leather as it is the original material used for the 1460 and 1461 styles!