Mediahound, this is not news. They freely admit to this manufacturing and have been doing it for a while.
- Wholly made in the DR shoes: the "ae" line
- Uppers made in the DR and the rest of the shoes assembled in the US: Various shoes. They actually move production between the DR and the US depending on needs.
- Wholly made in the US shoes: shell cordovan and possibly the Independence line (not sure about the latter)
They divulge full information and are wholly upfront about this in all their materials. Yes, the shoes say "Made in the USA", but they are allowed to by law. Do a little searching, though, and you'll find plenty of stories and interviews where the CEO is open about this practice.
You can feel free to insist on fully made in the USA, but "disingenuous" is not the right word for what they are doing.
Sounds like you're new to the brand. No problem; but everyone here already knows.
Thanks for the info. Apparently not everyone here already knows this, based on the replies.
And no, AE is not going out of their way to inform potential customers of these facts in any way. Looking at their website, I would even argue they are trying to hide it there.
This is pretty much on the dot. You'll also notice that recently some AE shoes have "Made in the USA of fine imported leather". Example I'm guessing this is a nod to the fact that some initial leather work is done in the DR. My Independence collection shoes only have Made in the USA, without that second part so I'm guessing they fall into the last category.
As kmdsimpson says, it isn't news. It is there for anyone to see if they are looking for it. Obviously it is a bit of an overstatement to say that everyone knows since many of the questions in these threads are cyclical, but it has been discussed at length.
The issue is very easily blown out of proportion. With most manufactering outsourcing, people contract with a manufacterer in another country to make a product for them, slap their brand name on it, and ship it back to be sold by the brand at retail. The whole QA/QC process is maintained by the contracted manufacterer rather than the brand. Obviously, the brand has the right to send defective products back to the contracted manufacterer if they find glaring problems. This is not what Allen Edmonds is doing at all. They have simply purchased some real estate in the DR, built their own factory, trained their own employees who are making AE shoes while wearing AE uniforms (I say this to make a point, not because they actually wear AE uniforms). Their paychecks say AE on them, and they are hired and trained by AE. They save money by doing this, which in turn saves us money. If the shoe is made entirely in the DR, it says so on the shoe. Cutting some leather that will later be used to make Goodyear-welted shoes on presses at their own factory in the DR doesn't rub me the wrong way.
As for the "Made in USA of Fine Imported Leather" comment, this was discussed briefly a few weeks ago as well. This has nothing to do with initial leather work being done in the DR. Shoe companies search the world over for the best quality leathers that they can find (at the right price) to make their shoes from. This has always been the case. AE started putting that on their insoles for transparency purposes, since "made in USA" doesn't have to mean "made from products grown in the USA." They aren't the same thing, and they shouldn't be. I wouldn't want my shoes made from some inferior quality calfskin simply because the grass the calves ate was in Montana rather than Germany. If this year's crop of calfskin from Germany is better than Montana's, by all means, make my shoes from the German hides.