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Alden shoes - a recommendation

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
In perusing the messages on the forum, I don't recall seeing any mention of Alden. For those of you interested in shoes, I think Alden's are fantastic. In terms of quality, I find them superior to their primary American competitor, Allen-Edmonds. Why? Because I like the leather in their uppers better, and I find their soles last much longer than those in the AE's. Furthermore, I like the combo heel (leather and rubber inset) that Alden uses much better than the full rubber toplift that AE uses. You might note that AE uses the combo heel, but only on their Cordovan shoes that run $450 or so. I also think that the Alden's take and retain a superior shine. Their lasts are made for the typical American foot, which is narrower in the heel and wider in the forefoot than the typical European foot. So, if you have a hard time fitting into European shoes, you might well benefit from trying the Aldens. It is also worth noting that Alden is probably the world's leading maker of Cordovan shoes. They and all of the other shoemakers I've talked to, including Edward Green and Crockett & Jones, buy their cordovan from the same tannery. Alden also makes the high-end, American made shoes for Brooks Brothers. In general, these models are similar or the same as those labeled Alden. I've also seen Aldens with retailers' private label heel pads, including Britches of Georgetown. You can often find the Brooks Brothers Aldens at really good prices at the end of the Brooks summer sale, particularly at the BB store on Madison Ave. in NYC. I've bought beautiful Aldens there for $90, and cordovans for $150. Interestingly, I've seen Aldens sold at high end clothiers in Europe, often selling for around $500 to $700 (the latter for the cordovan leathers). While the shoes do not, in my opinion, rival Edward Green for quality (as they are not hand-sewn as the best Greens are), I heartily recommend that people check out the Alden's if you are in the market for some wonderful and durable shoes. Alden also offers a recrafting service, though they don't do a good job of marketing this service, unlike AE. The only downside to Alden's is that they have a steel shank, so they will set off the metal detector if you try to wear them through security at the airport (unlike AE's, which don't have a steel shank). However, nowadays it seems like most airports require you to take off your shoes and put them on the belt, so this may be less of an issue. I would love to hear others' opinions and experience with Alden vis-a-vis other brands.
post #2 of 11
Shoefan: I've seen Alden at a number of finer men's specialty stores. Many of the store owners are very pleased with them. Do you work for them?
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
No, I just like them alot and thought they were under-represented in this forum. FYI, I also own shoes by: Edward Green, Crockett & Jones, JM Weston, Santoni (handmades), a. Testoni, Campanile, Allen Edmonds, JP Tods, Ferragamo, Magli, and PS Ercolino, so I'm not wedded to any one brand. I also continue to give thought to the notion of some bespoke shoes--either Cleverley or Lobb (St. James, not Paris) -- but haven't yet committed to spending the $. Also, I hope to someday get some Vass bespokes, if/when I get to Budapest.
post #4 of 11
That's quite a shoe collection. No wonder you chose "shoefan" for your screen identity.
post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 
Believe me, you don't even want to know (and don't even ask me about suits and sportcoats.).
post #6 of 11
I've heard of PS Ercolino but I can't remember where. What can you tell me about them?? I think Alden's quality is excellent but I'm a bit apathetic about their styling. They are one of the main brands you should look at if you are looking for very basic, quality shoes to build a wardrobe on. The tassel loafer is a real classic and I like this penny loafer they do for Brooks Brothers: Also, look at Alden of Carmel for some GREAT Alden shoes.
post #7 of 11
I like Alden shoes (I own several pairs) and I have at various times suggested on the pages of this august forum, people might have a look at Alden for a classical, reasonably priced, no-nonsense pair of shoes. Yes, I believe Aldens are undervalued in the States, but equally, they are overvalued in Germany. At various times I have asked Americans to appreciate the multitude of fittings they have (still) available in their country. European manufacturers have stopped producing different fittings. (Some, like Ferragamo, might do it for the American market only.) All of those who find Alden a bit boring might have a look at the "fan shoe collection" at http://www.alden-of-carmel.com/ where the proprietor Adam Knott, gets the factory to produce a number of models to his own specifications. They are quite often revivals of previous models (like six eyelets bluchers). I think a few people on this list, might want to spend a day in the archives of one of the shoe manufacturers who have been in business for a hundred years or more. There we could look through all the old catalogues, designs, styles, lasts etc. and come up with our individual models. All the shell cordovan leather in the world comes from only one tannery: Horween in Chicago. Talking about bespoke shoes: A Harris, you should have received your Vass shoes by now. How are you getting on?
post #8 of 11
Like those tan penny loafers. Probably a bit less expensive than the similarly colored Toschis I bought a couple of months ago. Alden has a franchised or private store in SF I listed in the book, too. But the Toschis are great as well. Sort of a driving shoe style. I got a couple of the Vasses custom ordered (more or less M2M) and really like them. Have been waiting for Mr. Harris to e-mail me a picture link so I could post them... I've gone from having one pair of Mezlans and one pair of Ferragamos to being a shoe fiend, thanks largely to the great info on this Forum. Thanks, guys (I think?.).
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
PS (Perry) Ercolino is an American bespoke shoemaker based in Doylestown, Pa. (outside of Philly).  He sells his bespoke shoes there and in NYC, at the latter in association with the bespoke tailor Leonard Logsdail.  His bespoke shoes are highly regarded, but are priced ($2800) comparably to those of Lobb, and above those of Cleverley et al. [Must be nice to have Wall Street and the international monied crowd as ones customers.] I happened upon his shoes at a Nordstrom Rack maybe 5 years ago, where I picked up a pair for under $150; they are cognac cap toe oxfords.  They were specially made for Nordstrom, though under what circumstances I can't say; I don't know if they were designed as a high-end off-the-rack model for Nordstrom, were samples, or what (I guess someday I'll contact Ercolino to find out).  At the time, I had not heard of Ercolino, I just thought they were good looking and seemed well made, and they fit, so I bought them.  In retrospect, I am certainly glad I did.  I read about Ercolino in some article about bespoke shoes that I found on the web; the article was, I think, from the Cigar Afficionado.  You can also check out his web site at http://www.perryercolino.com. Re: Vass.  I too would love to get your opinion as to the experience and the shoes.  Also, what was the ballpark cost? Re: Alden of Carmel.  Great web site, and some very nice shoes.  For anyone who likes the look of the Alden Square Toe Norwegian Front shoe at this site, but not the price, you might look for the Allen Edmonds Dellwood.  I think this shoe has been discontinued, and it is available on ebay and at various other places and should be $50 - $150.  It has the skin-stiched front and the combination sole just like the Alden.  Notwithstanding my earlier comments, I think the AE's are very good shoes (just not as good as Aldens), and at the right price a good buy. In fact, I own this shoe in black. Re: Alden styling.  I agree that their styling is rather conservative, but that is fine with me.  I love their cap toe oxford (model 901) in particular, for dress applications.  Also, as noted, their tassel loafers are classics (FYI, Alden is credited with the creation of this style, although technically they were the second company to make them, in response to a customer's order many years ago.  Certainly, Alden and Brooks Brothers must be credited with popularizing the style.)  I also like their strap loafers and monk straps.  I have mixed emotions about their penny loafers shown by A. Harris;I have always thought these look a little boxy due to the location of the toe stitching, and they seem sort of caught between the casualness of penny loafers and the dressier lines of the tassel/strap loafers.
post #10 of 11
Quote:
Talking about bespoke shoes: A Harris, you should have received your Vass shoes by now. How are you getting on?
I love them. I was worried they would be a bit too tight when I first got them but Mr. Vass knows what he is doing. They broke in perfectly. They are the most comfortable shoes I've ever worn by a very large margin. I'll have to post some pictures soon. My brother ordered a pair of spectators (I'll have to post pictures of those as well - they are really cool) and he keeps trying to wear them 24/7. I've had to explain to him on several occasions that he needs to let them REST for a day or two between wearings.
Quote:
Have been waiting for Mr. Harris to e-mail me a picture link so I could post them...
Sorry Steve. I've been gone so much this month I keep forgetting... I'll email those when I get home tonight or tomorrow.
Quote:
Re: Vass. I too would love to get your opinion as to the experience and the shoes. Also, what was the ballpark cost?
I'm going to do a write-up on the experience soon. I even have a picture of the fitting. The current cost is appx. $550 US including shipping - one of the best bargains in the world of menswear.
Quote:
All of those who find Alden a bit boring might have a look at the "fan shoe collection" at http://www.alden-of-carmel.com/ where the proprietor Adam Knott, gets the factory to produce a number of models to his own specifications. They are quite often revivals of previous models (like six eyelets bluchers).
I've been into Alden of Carmel and met Adam. He is a great guy and he sells great shoes. I don't know why I haven't recommended him here before. His shop is well worth visiting if you are in Carmel (along with the Robert Talbott outlet.) But if you can't make it then by all means visit the website. He often closes out models and sells them at real bargain prices.
Quote:
I have mixed emotions about their penny loafers shown by A. Harris;I have always thought these look a little boxy due to the location of the toe stitching, and they seem sort of caught between the casualness of penny loafers and the dressier lines of the tassel/strap loafers.
Funny - I think that's why I like them. That's fine though - if we all liked the exact same things them the world would be a very boring place
post #11 of 11
I own some nice shoes, although not perhaps up to the standards of some people on this forum. (My wardrobe has yet to include a pair of bespoke Lobbs.) However, the shoes that I can walk into any quality men's store wearing and invariably receive gushing compliments about are my shell cordovan oxfords by Alden. Not even my Lobb double-buckle monkstraps or Ludwig Reiter Gustav Mahlers get the degree of recognition, let alone adoratation, that the Aldens do. That holds true in Brussels, Vienna, Munich, Berlin, even in Milan and London. Aldens are truly venerated on this side of the pond, and the prices are really quite insane, with shell cordovan models going for about e700 despite the collapse of the dollar vis a vis the euro. When I left the States, I brought five pair of Aldens for other people; two pair for my father-in-law as gifts, and three pair for three for different people working at bespoke tailoring houses whose services have been of great use to me, on request. Peace, JG
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