Pros: Classic style, high quality, long lasting, form fitting and easy maintenance
Cons: Possible fit issues and possible break in period
The Alden long wing blucher is a classic design that remains unchanged since the 1940. Made on the Barrie last, it is a sturdy double oak soled shoe that typically comes in black (style 9751) and burgundy (#8) shell cordovan (style 975). The black version comes with a leather sole that has been colored black, whereas the burgundy comes with the natural color leather sole. This shoe is a stock model that is usually available in C, D and E widths, but some retailers, such as The Shoe Mart, will order a production run in EEE width. Be sure to check for available sizes from multiple dealers before electing to order a pair. Delivery time of special orders can take 4-6 months or longer. Some dealers will also create special orders in Ravello or other colors, but these are exceedingly rare.
The Barrie last is usually said to run 1/2 size long and retailers advise to size down accordingly. This variation in size is the chief reason to try on the store if at all possible. The quality of the shoe is superb. Excellent Horween shell cordovan is used in the construction and it also contains a full leather lining and a wheeled welt. Some people find a break in period for this double oak sole shoe, but my personal experience was very good. The shoe was comfortable out of the box and seemed to fit better with each passing hour as the cork bed adapted to my foot.
Shoe upkeep is very simple. After wearing, wipe the shoe down with a slightly damp cloth and brush them well with a horsehair brush. Polish is NOT needed and most scratches will brush out and vanish within 5 minutes or so. Most shell shoe owners will strongly advise against using any product on the shoes, other than a very slight amount of cordovan cream 1-2 times per year at most. Store with shoe trees and keep them in their bags. Current retail price at the time of this review was $710. The price is certainly not insignificant, but the quality is immediately evident and the shoes, well maintained, will outlive me and will go to my son. Literally. I am VERY pleased with this shoe and happy with my purchase.
Allen Edmonds also offers a long wing blucher in Horween cordovan, the Macneil, in both black and burgundy. Available sizes are 6-16 and widths of B through EEE. Retail price at this time for the Macneil is $650. Although very similar in price, I found the same sized Macneil is tighter across the vamp and less comfortable for my feet than the Alden. The Macneil is also double oak and leather lined, but does not include some of the subtle upgrades such as the wheeling on the welt. I have tried both shoes and I personally found the Alden to be a far better fit, and a higher quality. The price difference between the two was inconsequential when buying this type of shoe.