I really don't mind being challenged and, as I said in my long post, reasonable men can differ. However, as wdahab said above, I do have a day job and limited time for posting during the week. So, this time more briefly...
I definitiely did not intend to suggest that upper-making isn't important. It's absolutely crucial to our quality that it is done extremely well. Both of our plants are great at the task, and it isn't an easy job. It takes fantastic fine motor skills and it's the beginning of the entire handcrafted process on that part of the shoe. It just doesn't result in a shoe, not anywhere close to one. That metamorphosis happens entirely here in Port Washington. As for the transparency, this is one of multiple times I've addressed these questions openly. Putting "Made in USA of Fine Imported Leathers, Sometimes European or Brazilian Rubber Soles, Often but Not Always with the Upper Cut and Sewn in the DR and Everything Else Done in the USA" seems too longwinded for the inside of a shoe...even to me. As has been noted previously, we don't yet have a system to track when we use Horween leathers (and we're purposely using more of them all the time) and sew the uppers all in Wisconsin. We still use the "of Fine Imported Leathers" wording for the sake of streamlining the stamping process and making sure we're not wrong, even when it's a Horween with the upper sewn in Port Washington. We're going to work on that one, and Skip Horween is eager for us to do so. So am I, but there are systems requirments ahead of it in our capex budget.
MediaHound's issue (it wasn't a question) that I addressed directly, at least I intended to, was whether calling ourselves The Great American Shoe Company is "disingenuous". That my response sounded like a marketing statement is something I can't argue with. That it seemed like a long string of "American patriotism" is another point I'd agree with... gladly. Believe me, there's a lot more we could have added about how we think (you can disagree) we're "going above and beyond" and deserve that moniker. We're proud of what we're doing here and how it's rejuvenating not just our company but also employment in a formerly robust U.S. manufacturing county.
Less than 1.5% of the shoes bought in the U.S. these days were made in the USA at any steps along the way (according to the American Footwear and Apparel Association's data). We've bucked a multi-decade megatrend and we're glad we did. I would think you guys would be, too, especially because we've done so without charging another $100 (or, depending on the style, much more) for the same shoes made out of the same leathers. As I read these posts, pricing seems to be almost as important as quality when it comes to purchase decisions. So, in the vernacular.... that's how we roll.
Back to work.... Thanks.
the more I hear from Paul, the more I admire AE. I have more than 20 pair and will buy more in the future. I will definitely buy more if Paul can make the custom order happen, as mentioned in his previous post.