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Allen Edmonds Appreciation Thread - reviews, pictures, sizing, etc... - Page 2045  

post #30661 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by wurger View Post

Roger, rest assured, spending more than $200 on a pair of leather shoes is very special and aspirational for 99% of men out there, even on this forum, some of the expectations on AE finishing are very unrealistic at times.



We, among others here, are lucky to own and experimence even more higher end premium shoes, so relatively speaking, the allure of AE isn't what it was.

 



No doubt that for the "masses" as referred to previously, a $200 shoe purchase is indeed an outlier. And you make a fair point about our perception being impacted by exposure to, and ownership of higher end shoes. But in my case, I have been an AE customer for nearly a quarter century. And I have made purchases of their product as recently as this year, notwithstanding that the bulk of my purchases are indeed now from higher end brands. So I don't think it is a case for me of having "moved beyond" the brand, and now looking back - and down - upon it. I feel there has been a shift over time in how I perceive the brand (again, as distinct from the product) that very likely flows from the way the company has managed the brand. Beacause I really don't think any less of the products themselves.
post #30662 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by NWTeal View Post
 

 

 

A few notes on the comparison to Alden. I think it's important to remember that AE is a much bigger company than Alden and their production likely churns out more shoes, and consequently more seconds each month.As a result, AE has multiple versions of similar shoes on different lasts to cater to different tastes and styles. I would say someone might like a MacNeil, but hate the Larchmont. This person may or may not know a lot about shoes, but decides the shape of the Larchmont is not for them. The goal is to cater to tastes across a broad range customers and AE can afford to take these risks due to their size. Variety is a strength of AE.

 

Also, Alden does have seconds, which are sold exclusively through The Shoe Mart. It's usually $299 calf/$399 cordovan which was mentioned previously. While the selection is smaller, Alden itself has a smaller selection of styles to choose from. Additionally, I think the exclusivity of Alden's retail channels helps promote that perceived brand value that you mentioned. They aren't as common and you basically have to buy them through retailers instead of Alden directly (outside of the NYC store). I don't know if there are others (I think Alden of Carmel is independent. Alden also has exclusives for Leffot, Leather Soul and TSM which also adds to that aura of brand prestige.  I went to Alden on Madison Ave and I asked about the future availability of Whiskey shell and the SA mentioned he didn't know since there was a shortage of shell cordovan. I don't know if that's true or not, but it certainly adds to the rarity of some Alden shoes.

 

I think at the core the business models are a little different. Financially, AE likely runs leaner margins in favor of volume where Alden runs higher margins in return for less volume. I try not to even compare the two because the price difference (for calf) is anywhere from $100 to over $150, greater if you include AE sale prices (since Alden rarely has discounts).

 

I don't have a pair of Aldens, but I've certainly considered it. However, I almost always remember that I can get an equal or similar quality shoe for significantly less from AE. I'm glad AE runs the sales and prices their shoes the way they do. If they didn't, I would be stuck wearing Cole Haans :rotflmao:

 

I agree with your assessment. I think that the Larchmont and MacNeil might be indeed different enough to warrant their peaceful co-existence in the AE line-up. However, the Strand, the Elgin and the Strandmok are all built on the same last and have relatively few differences between them to justify each having their distinct name. MacNeil is very similar to the Aberdeen, even though the lasts are somewhat different. This can go on and on.

 

Fwiw, I think Alden has its own stores in NYC, DC, and SF. 

post #30663 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by cincikid View Post
 

 

 

While I think that AE represents a tremendous value at the selling price, I don't think I will ever want to pay the full price for the AE shoes as I know I can buy them on sale or as seconds virtually any time. Does it diminish the value of the brand in my eyes? Perhaps it does somewhat (attitude is in the eyes of a beholder), but not much, as I still consider AE to be top quality and being able to get them at a fraction of the retail cost to be a fantastic deal (and a well-kept secret). I am still dressed better than anyone in my office, although I think I didn't pay much more for my AE shoes than they did at the DSW.

 

This said though, I think I would gladly pay the full price for Aldens, as I know they never go on sale (having said that, I was able to score couple pairs at J.Crew at 25% off with subsequent 15% discount). For me, psychologically, Alden is a better brand just 'cause I know Alden doesn't have a ShoeBank and the tent sales and it will likely cost more next year than it does now. Make no mistake however, I will still be buying AE on sale, but I will be hard pressed to think they are on par with Aldens, although I can't discern one from another in terms of quality.

 

 

This, along with some of the other posts in this discussion, is starting to sound like the whole issue is resting with the very fact that AE can be purchased at these low prices.  Is that the issue we are really discussing?  I'm sure AE would be happy to charge you twice the price if you really want them to.

 

It is very common in the Alden vs. AE discussions, for Alden to just barely inch out a win over AE.  One thing I've noticed though, is that most people readily concede that Alden doesn't win due to better build quality.  Yes, most agree that Alden's dyes on their shell cordovan looks better.  Many prefer certain proportions of Alden shoes over AE, and there are other subtle differences that people can favor.  But, all too often, people just say that they "can't put their finger on it" or something to that regard.  I would contend that it is mostly perceived exclusivity which results from Alden's business model Even above (in bold), it was said that paying full price for Alden's (which literally comes out to over twice the price of a well discounted AE second in calfskin), would be perfectly ok even though there may be no discernible difference in quality.

 

As my Style Forum user name may indicate :cool:, I can't quite relate to that.  If the heart of this whole discussion is simply that AE isn't as nice simply because more people can afford them, then I'll probably check out of the discussion.  I don't enjoy my AE's less because more people are wearing the same brand, compared to other more expensive brands.  In fact, I enjoy seeing nice shoes on others.  It's a refreshing break from the crap most people wear, and it gives you a chance to give an understanding nod to a total stranger.  I am happy to buy Alden (or even more expensive) shoes for a unique feature that they bring to the table, but not if the product is such a close call that it simply comes down to how many other people will have it.  Even if that were a concern of mine (which it isn't), you have to remember that even AE isn't that prevalent.

post #30664 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by cincikid View Post


While I think that AE represents a tremendous value at the selling price, I don't think I will ever want to pay the full price for the AE shoes as I know I can buy them on sale or as seconds virtually any time.. 

.     

 



This quite precisely gets at part of my concern about the perma-sale practices: it affects your perception of what the shoes are worth. You wouldn't pay full retail because they can always be had on sale. Therefore you begin to perceive the discounted price as the effective retail price. The actual retail price comes to be perceived as "too much".
post #30665 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoneyWellSpent View Post
 

 

 

The Nathan is on the 8 last.  The Fifth Avenue is on the 5 last.  So, technically, you aren't buying a Fifth Avenue. :D Those are made expressly for Jos A Bank, so I assume they came up with the name.

 

Aha!  I see.  Well.  I'm going with the Fifth Ave.'s because the bourbon is beautiful.  Stop all this cordovan talk, I'm trying my best to resist more spending :crazy: 

post #30666 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by cincikid View Post
 

 

I agree with your assessment. I think that the Larchmont and MacNeil might be indeed different enough to warrant their peaceful co-existence in the AE line-up. However, the Strand, the Elgin and the Strandmok are all built on the same last and have relatively few differences between them to justify each having their distinct name. MacNeil is very similar to the Aberdeen, even though the lasts are somewhat different. This can go on and on.

 

Fwiw, I think Alden has its own stores in NYC, DC, and SF.

Ahh, yes you are right about those stores.

 

I agree to some extent. It's true that there are lots of similar shoes, but from what I've seen I think the unique names are a derivative of the shoe's purpose. For example, I would never my black McTavish for the same purposes as my black McAllister. I guess AE uses the different names as marketing tactics or maybe it's easier for consumers to see different names of similar shoes rather than having 10 options for the same shoe. Actually, now that I think about it, I probably would not have both a black McTavish and black Mcallister if they were both called by the same name. They totally got me! :facepalm:

post #30667 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoneyWellSpent View Post
 

 

This, along with some of the other posts in this discussion, is starting to sound like the whole issue is resting with the very fact that AE can be purchased at these low prices.  Is that the issue we are really discussing?  I'm sure AE would be happy to charge you twice the price if you really want them to. 

 

It is very common in the Alden vs. AE discussions, for Alden to just barely inch out a win over AE.  One thing I've noticed though, is that most people readily concede that Alden doesn't win due to better build quality.  Yes, most agree that Alden's dyes on their shell cordovan looks better.  Many prefer certain proportions of Alden shoes over AE, and there are other subtle differences that people can favor.  But, all too often, people just say that they "can't put their finger on it" or something to that regard.  I would contend that it is mostly perceived exclusivity which results from Alden's business model Even above (in bold), it was said that paying full price for Alden's (which literally comes out to over twice the price of a well discounted AE second in calfskin), would be perfectly ok even though there may be no discernible difference in quality.

 

 

This is exactly the point I was trying to make. It's a largely perceived issue, but it is important nevertheless. Again, I am a loyal AE customer and I am sure AE will dominate in my closet in a foreseeable future, but I will always be cherishing my Aldens a bit more and wear them on special occasions whereas AE--which I consider the same quality--will be my workhorse shoes. I know I should be able to get any AE shoe at about 50% off if things keep looking the way they are now, but I am also confident, Aldens will go up in price. 

post #30668 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by wurger View Post

Roger, rest assured, spending more than $200 on a pair of leather shoes is very special and aspirational for 99% of men out there, even on this forum, some of the expectations on AE finishing are very unrealistic at times.



We, among others here, are lucky to own and experimence even more higher end premium shoes, so relatively speaking, the allure of AE isn't what it was.

 



No doubt that for the "masses" as referred to previously, a $200 shoe purchase is indeed an outlier. And you make a fair point about our perception being impacted by exposure to, and ownership of higher end shoes. But in my case, I have been an AE customer for nearly a quarter century. And I have made purchases of their product as recently as this year, notwithstanding that the bulk of my purchases are indeed now from higher end brands. So I don't think it is a case for me of having "moved beyond" the brand, and now looking back - and down - upon it. I feel there has been a shift over time in how I perceive the brand (again, as distinct from the product) that very likely flows from the way the company has managed the brand. Beacause I really don't think any less of the products themselves.

The market of people that could be convinced to try to buy more expensive shoes is not a small one. If you can convince someone that would buy a pair of 80 dollar bostonians to buy a pair of 150 dollar AE seconds or 200 dollar retail at a discount firsts, then you've just created a customer that will probably come back during a sale if they like the shoes.


I'm totally okay with calling AE's shoes an entry to the high end market. Their price point represents that, especially during the sales. Their higher end shell stuff is remarkable and their boots are also great.

 

I'm at a point where I've spent a few hundred dollars on shoes in the last few months. For me by going to thrift stores, ebay, etc. I now own like 12 pairs of dress shoes. However, knowing what I now know about the shoe bank, I feel stupid for not just getting 3-4 pairs of good AE's. I have a good pair of JM's and Cole Haan's, but I look at some of the other shoes and see the cardboard welt and I have a hard time putting them on my feet. I'll wear down the heels and toss those shoes in all probability. I can't justify spending even 30-40 bucks getting them re-heeled anymore.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MoneyWellSpent View Post
 

 

I think that they are entry level "premium" shoes, even if that isn't necessarily their company identity as many sartorially inclined people classify it.  I think that they hold a spot within the ranks of "premium" footwear by default, because of their quality.  In other words, I think it's incidental.  If they are using the same "gold-standard" construction techniques as a pair of Gaziano & Girling shoes, then they have to be classified within the higher echelon of footwear known as "premium".  They just aren't as concerned with having the most elegant last shapes, or perfect lines of stitching, or flawless leather.  They can't be concerned about that, and remain at the prices that they are.  As the CEO said in that video Wurger posted, they consider themselves to be "the shoes of leaders, from presidents to principals."  I interpret that to be synonymous with "workhorse."

 

You do sound pretty disappointed in your last paragraph there.  Personally, I think they are better, special, and aspirational, to use your words.  They have been swimming against the current for decades and are a real success story by producing a shoe that is nice enough to be considered "premium" and to be nice enough to warrant this whole discussion we've been having, while only being a smidge more expensive than much lower quality competitors.    


I think you're spot on here. They've branded themselves as quality shoes for the common man. Selling even a couple of pairs of shoes (even seconds) to a consumer that would have bought a different brand is a big deal of market share. Now if people are concerned about AE's becoming ubiquitous, then that might be a real concern, but honestly I'm not wearing dress shoes to be a hipster...

post #30669 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by cincikid View Post
 

 

While I think that AE represents a tremendous value at the selling price, I don't think I will ever want to pay the full price for the AE shoes as I know I can buy them on sale or as seconds virtually any time.. 

.     

 

 



This quite precisely gets at part of my concern about the perma-sale practices: it affects your perception of what the shoes are worth. You wouldn't pay full retail because they can always be had on sale. Therefore you begin to perceive the discounted price as the effective retail price. The actual retail price comes to be perceived as "too much".

I actually think that even at the retail price AEs are a bargain and totally worth ~$300. Yet, it's the possibility of getting them at a steep discount that makes me avoid buying them at full retail. Let me reiterate though--I do consider them worthy their full price and would buy them at such, if they didn't have perpetual sales (I hope Paul is not reading this thread :).

post #30670 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by cincikid View Post

This is exactly the point I was trying to make. It's a largely perceived issue, but it is important nevertheless. Again, I am a loyal AE customer and I am sure AE will dominate in my closet in a foreseeable future, but I will always be cherishing my Aldens a bit more and wear them on special occasions whereas AE--which I consider the same quality--will be my workhorse shoes. I know I should be able to get any AE shoe at about 50% off if things keep looking the way they are now, but I am also confident, Aldens will go up in price. 

 



Perception is indeed an important factor when it comes to branding. Very important.
post #30671 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by cincikid View Post

I actually think that even at the retail price AEs are a bargain and totally worth ~$300. Yet, it's the possibility of getting them at a steep discount that makes me avoid buying them at full retail. Let me reiterate though--I do consider them worthy their full price and would buy them at such, if they didn't have perpetual sales (I hope Paul is not reading this thread smile.gif.

 



I consider them (for the most part) to be very much worth the retail asking price as well. But I would never buy a pair at full pop (unless I were doing a special order) for the very reasons you mention. For me, the retail price has effectively become a fictional number. I wouldn't pay it. You wouldn't pay it. Note that neither of us are hating on the brand, or saying the shoes are themselves unworthy. If that became the view of the bulk of AE customers, what would that say about the brand?
post #30672 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by ridethecliche View Post
 


I think you're spot on here. They've branded themselves as quality shoes for the common man. Selling even a couple of pairs of shoes (even seconds) to a consumer that would have bought a different brand is a big deal of market share. Now if people are concerned about AE's becoming ubiquitous, then that might be a real concern, but honestly I'm not wearing dress shoes to be a hipster...

 

I can understand the desire for AE to not become ubiquitous, and in all of my previous comments, I haven't lost sight of that.  There is a side of me that says the AE's that we know now, would have been ubiquitous 50 years ago.  As they say, they don't make them like the used to.  Goodyear-welted shoes were normal in the mid-1900's.  Now they are exceptional.  I wouldn't mind it if they became a bit more normal again.  I think your comment about not wearing dress shoes to be a hipster strikes an important chord as well.  I think the goal of how people dress is having a large impact on the points of view in this discussion.  I wear nice dress shoes for many reasons, and being a hipster is probably lowest on the list. 

post #30673 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by cincikid View Post
 

I actually think that even at the retail price AEs are a bargain and totally worth ~$300. Yet, it's the possibility of getting them at a steep discount that makes me avoid buying them at full retail. Let me reiterate though--I do consider them worthy their full price and would buy them at such, if they didn't have perpetual sales (I hope Paul is not reading this thread :).

 

 

I fully agree.

post #30674 of 70737
Quote:
Originally Posted by RogerP View Post
 
I consider them (for the most part) to be very much worth the retail asking price as well. But I would never buy a pair at full pop (unless I were doing a special order) for the very reasons you mention. For me, the retail price has effectively become a fictional number. I wouldn't pay it. You wouldn't pay it. Note that neither of us are hating on the brand, or saying the shoes are themselves unworthy. If that became the view of the bulk of AE customers, what would that say about the brand?

 

I think we've come back full circle now though. :laugh:   I completely agree.  However, I still contend that the "masses" do pay full retail, and we are a relatively small group of "in the know" people who share hints and information to come out ahead.  Most of the world considers AE to be extremely expensive shoes, and they consider all the brands that are more expensive to be for the insane.

 

As I had an email in my inbox this morning from Jos A Bank, I was reminded of their business model.  I think it may be their model that you are fearing AE is similarly representing.  Regular retail prices at Jos A Bank are a complete sham.  Anyone who goes to their site even once a week will see that if you wait around, you will pay pennies on the dollar compared to what their "retail" prices are.  AE isn't anywhere near this, and their handful of annual sales on select styles won't get them anywhere near that. 

post #30675 of 70737

Saw my new seconds suede Strands on my porch while I was leaving for work.  Took them with my in the car for inspection and snapped a few pictures before walking into my office.  Overall they look great with only a minor blemish near the heel of one shoe.  This is now my seventh pair of AEs purchased as seconds where the flaw cannot be found or is very minor:

 

Black Hastings (purchased from Nordstrom's Rack.  Cannot find a flaw anywhere)

Walnut Strands with the V-Tread tap sole (AE sent me a pair of seconds with the tap sole but honored Nordstrom's recent sale price of $229)

Bourbon McAllisters (firsts - no flaws as expected)

Snuff Suede Neumoks (seconds - very minor flaw near the inside of the welt on the left shoe.  A few drops of superglue fixed the issue immediately.)

Snuff Suede Amoks (they had a pair made from the factor for me for $99 because they were out of stock in seconds.  I was shocked that they did this - I didn't even ask them to!)

Tan Ashbury Chelsea boots (seconds - I can't find the flaw anywhere)

Natural Tan McTavish (purchased as seconds but they seem to have sent me firsts - they don't even have the seconds stamp on the sole)

Suede Strands (purchased for $229 during current sale)

 

 

 

 

I'll post more pics when I get home actually wearing them.  I also think I'll keep my colored laces in my Neumoks and the originals in these...

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