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What shoes fall between A-E & EG? - Page 3

post #31 of 90
Quality, we may very well get tired of all these shoes and suits long before they wear out.
post #32 of 90
Dah328, this illustrates an interesting continuum along which individuals differ. If we take the $4257 which (assuming all of JLibourel's 33 pairs of A-Es were bought for $129) represents the total expenditure on his shoe collection, we might envisage a continuum running from many shoes of lower quality to few of higher-quality as:

57 pairs of Bostonian shoes bought on sale for $75,
33 pairs of A-Es at $129,
15-16 pairs of C&J Benchgrades,
11 pairs of C&J Handgrades (at PLal's prices), and
9 pairs of EGs.

In all cases, I've assumed low or sale prices; the recent EG sale, for example, had prices of about $495 for most models.

At what point on the continuum do you fall? What constitutes a desirable shoe wardrobe? Dah328, you're saying that you are near the right-hand pole of the continuum, preferring a smaller number of really high-quality shoes. I've become that way too. It seems to me that, with 9-11 pairs of dress shoes, you have all possible occasions well-covered, and you can enjoy the pleasure of knowing that you are wearing close to the best at all times. Further, it's hard to imagine that rotating among that many pairs (each pair being worn approximately once every two weeks, excluding weekends when you'd be wearing casual shoes), the shoes would reach the point of needing resoling in less than many years. In the end, I guess, we each have to determine whether we desire more of lower quality or fewer of higher quality.
post #33 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lino
And another tenent, that clothing should be rugged enough to stand up to daily wear (e.g., the reason more bespoke suits are not made of the higher supers, but rather 100s). So, while 30 Brooksease suits may not be the best option, neither are 5 Kiton suits.
That presumes near daily wear of a suit which sadly is not the case for me.
post #34 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger
At what point on the continuum do you fall? What constitutes a desirable shoe wardrobe? Dah328, you're saying that you are near the right-hand pole of the continuum, preferring a smaller number of really high-quality shoes. I've become that way too. It seems to me that, with 9-11 pairs of dress shoes, you have all possible occasions well-covered, and you can enjoy the pleasure of knowing that you are wearing close to the best at all times.
That's precisely my position. I have enough pairs now that my regular rotation consists of C&J Handgrades, Grenson Masterpieces and EGs (at a lower total cost than Jan's, too). At this point, I won't consider lesser shoes even at fire sale prices because I wouldn't wear them when I have other nicer shoes in my closet. Mine is certainly not the definitive position, but it is the one I prefer.
post #35 of 90
I'm also a big believer in less is more in that I would much rather have one pair of killer shoe han 2-3 pair of also rans.
post #36 of 90
Seems to me from being on this forum that Aportnoy may believe that 'less is more' but that much more is even better!
post #37 of 90
Quote:
That's precisely my position. I have enough pairs now that my regular rotation consists of C&J Handgrades, Grenson Masterpieces and EGs (at a lower total cost than Jan's, too). At this point, I won't consider lesser shoes even at fire sale prices because I wouldn't wear them when I have other nicer shoes in my closet. Mine is certainly not the definitive position, but it is the one I prefer.

I'm in the same position, and, while I do have lesser shoes in my rotation, I would probably not be interested in AEs or even C&J benchgarde (other than boots/country shoes) at this point even if they were oferred at an unbelievable discount.

I think that the most important point is that, with some patience, you could assemble a decent colection consisting exclusively of C&J handgrade, Grensons and equivalent Italian/French makes and never pay more than $250 per pair. If you're willing to go as high as $500, you can throw in the occassional EG or Lobb.
post #38 of 90
I agree that AE is very well constructed and a tremendous value at factory outlet sale price. As a matter of fact that's all I wore when I graduated from college. But once I got taste of EG, there's no going back to AE. AE just can't compare with EG's elegant lasts and beautiful finishes

Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger
Dah328, this illustrates an interesting continuum along which individuals differ. If we take the $4257 which (assuming all of JLibourel's 33 pairs of A-Es were bought for $129) represents the total expenditure on his shoe collection, we might envisage a continuum running from many shoes of lower quality to few of higher-quality as:

57 pairs of Bostonian shoes bought on sale for $75,
33 pairs of A-Es at $129,
15-16 pairs of C&J Benchgrades,
11 pairs of C&J Handgrades (at PLal's prices), and
9 pairs of EGs.

In all cases, I've assumed low or sale prices; the recent EG sale, for example, had prices of about $495 for most models.


I agree with dah's sentiment about quality vs. quantity. Given the amount of money that JLibourel spent on 33 pairs of AEs, I'd spend majority of that amount on EG and the rest on C&J Handgrade during Barneys warehouse sale. I'll probably direct most of my future shoe spending budget on EG and JL, and may be occassional pair of Kiton or Lattanzi to treat myself. Life is too short to wear also-rans.
post #39 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by dah328
That presumes near daily wear of a suit which sadly is not the case for me.

I'm with ya brother"”I feel your pain.
post #40 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lino
I'm with ya brother"”I feel your pain.

Same here, also. I am a recreational suit-wearer. Plus Hell is sometimes as hot as Tucson, another limiting factor
post #41 of 90
Well, I'm rather flattered that my shoe buying habits have been the subject of so much critical discussion for so much of this thread.

I'll try to give a brief apology for my shoe buying habits. In the first place, having a large shoe wardrobe gives me a lot more flexibility to choose just the right shoe for the occasion in terms of style and color. By no means all of these A-Es are even strictly "business" shoes. Many are from the "Dress Casual" or "Casual" lines. Obviously, I am not going to wear my Wilberts or Stanford chukka boots as alternatives to my Byrons or Park Avenues. For that matter, I rarely have occasion to wear bals. I have five pairs of Byrons and Park Avenues, and so I am set for life there. In addition, with such a large rotation of the shoes that I wear daily, I have conferred a sort of immortality on them. Even the ones I use hardest are unlikely to get more than 250 or 300 wearings with long periods of rest in between.

A number of people on these fora have commented that when you go to an appreciably more expensive shoe than an A-E, you are not necessarily gaining much, if anything in comfort or durability. So, that leaves us with aesthetics: When it comes to the really high-dollar items like EG and JLP with their antiqued browns, I'll concede that they are definitely better looking than anything A-E makes. (On the other hand, I sure wouldn't spend top dollar if I had it for black shoes--black is black!) For most everything between A-E and the JLP/EG level, the difference aesthetically just isn't enough to concern me (even with the vaunted C&J Handgrades). And if you want to argue that this is evidence of a crass, lowbrow philistine nature on my part...so be it!

As for A-Es being too common and plebeian, not in my world! In most places, I am the best shod man there...or at the very least I have parity (which is rare). Here's a little story for you: One I day I was in the only spot in my part of the world where EGs are sold. A salesman there asked me if my A-E Kingsleys in chili were EGs. I said, "No, I can't afford them, they're just Allen-Edmonds." I wasn't cruel enough to add, "And I got them for almost $700 less than what you are charging for Greens." Need I add more?

Then, too, the idea that I could get nine pairs of EGs for the $4,257 I have hypothetically spent on my A-Es seems giddily optimistic. Maybe if I could nip over to London for the sales at Burlington Arcade or Picadilly or wherever they are now or to the factory in Northampton, I could get EGs for $473. The few pairs I have seen for sale in my neck of the woods are almost always $850 although I did see a couple of pairs in black marked down. The damn things didn't look any better than A-Es to me!

And, are Edward Greens worth all the fuss? I don't own any Greens, but a friend of mine who does says that in terms of materials and workmanship, he rated them no better than A-Es, but he did think the lasts were considerably more elegant. He characterized them as "medium-high quality at stratospheric prices." Ken Pollock once said that if A-E Park Avenues were selling at $250, then $400 would be a fair price for Greens. Sounds about right to me. As some of you know, I went to Oxford University so I have been a resident of England. As a general matter, I don't particularly trust British goods: If they are economy priced, they are usually shoddy (or so I have found). If the quality is impeccable--e.g., Rolls-Royce, Purdey, etc.--they are astronomically overpriced. I strongly suspect this applies to the vaunted Greens unless you are able to get them at a real bargain price.

Finally, some years back, before I knew better, I bought a number of medium-priced department store suits. Now that I know better, I wish that I had bought fewer and better suits. I am much more satorially sophisticated now than then, and I have yet to have similar regrets on accumulating my extensive shoe wardrobe.
post #42 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by dah328
That's precisely my position. I have enough pairs now that my regular rotation consists of C&J Handgrades, Grenson Masterpieces and EGs (at a lower total cost than Jan's, too). At this point, I won't consider lesser shoes even at fire sale prices because I wouldn't wear them when I have other nicer shoes in my closet. Mine is certainly not the definitive position, but it is the one I prefer.

Theoretically designing your own shoe wardrobe with Jan's appromixately 4.5k budget, and actually amassing a functional rotation with a variety of styles and colors appropriate for all occasions, is a much more difficult than simply dividing funds between Edward Green, Lobb, C&J, etc at sale.

Here are a few considerations:
1) The New York contingent obviously has greater access to a wider variety of premium shoes. Sales in the NYC area, particularly sample sales, provide the opportunity to buy better English brands at discount. This is probably not possible if you in Dayton, OH or Spokane, WA.

2) Few members can designate $4,500 at any given moment to their shoe budget. I've definitely spent around this amount or more, but the time frame spans around a decade.

3) Forum education is invaluable. My impression of Edward Green prior to reading this forum was: "Who buys these things? I mean a black oxford is a black oxford, right?" John Lobb, who? Like many, I believed the likes of Ferragamo, Bally, and Bruno Magli to be great shoes. We all have a learning curve. Styleforum accelerates the curve.

4) Tastes change with time. True to number #3, I amassed 8-10 Ferrgamos, Ballys, Moreschis, Rockports, and Eccos that I still wear today. The Ferragamo loafer was a timeless purchase, and so was a 2-eyelet black blucher by Moreschi. The others are kept for rain or snow duty, and are gradually being discarded as they wear out.

4b) Variety is the spice of life. I'll continue to buy a few mid-tier pieces, particularly Moreschi and AE, when I find them on sale for travel, going out, and bad weather. Although the Brits produce a wonderfully well-made product, the design isn't always appropriate for more festive situations. Secondly, the lighter weight and flexible Italians like Moreschi and Gravati are undoubtedly better suited for warmer weather.

5) Lasting: The JL 7000 fits like crap on me. The Edward Green 606 is equally uncomfortable. C&j Handgrades are too wide through the toe box. I find Ferragamo Tramezzas too stiff to my liking. Given these comfort preferences, I've found that C&J benchgrade lasts and Edward Green lasts to be the most comfortable for my particular feet. For this same reason, I avoid most Aldens and Allen Edmonds because I find their stock Ds too wide, and, in the case of Alden, generally less forgiving than my C&J.
post #43 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by JLibourel
AThen, too, the idea that I could get nine pairs of EGs for the $4,257 I have hypothetically spent on my A-Es seems giddily optimistic. Maybe if I could nip over to London for the sales at Burlington Arcade or Picadilly or wherever they are now or to the factory in Northampton, I could get EGs for $473. The few pairs I have seen for sale in my neck of the woods are almost always $850 although I did see a couple of pairs in black marked down. The damn things didn't look any better than A-Es to me!
Let me comment on a couple of points you've made in this paragraph. First, the little table I gave for comparison was based on as fair a comparison as I could provide, in that you had priced your A-Es at $129 a pair. This is a rock-bottom, sale price. Thus, it made sense to use similar rock-bottom prices for the other shoes in the comparison--an apples to apples analysis, let's say. The price of EGs that I used was that (269 GBP, which converts to approximately $485 US) in the recent sale that a number of forumers took advantage of without leaving home. EG takes orders over the phone after e-mailing out lists of available shoes to those who inquire. So no one had to nip over to London. These sales occur twice a year, and many forumers have purchased EGs at just these prices over the past several years. Therefore, I don't think the prices used in this comparison were giddily optimistic any more than your price of $129 for A-Es would seem so to the vast majority of forumers who have been unable to purchase them for that price even on sale. I've often seen prices of $169 to $189 quoted for A-Es on sale.

We could, of course use retail prices for the analysis instead. In this scenario, your total stake in shoes would purchase only 15 pairs of A-Es vs. 5 pairs of EGs, so that the proportional advantage of A-Es in the value-for-money equation is less than before (3:1 vs 3.67:1 before).

However, it is your last sentence that I think captures the essence of this discussion: "The damn things didn't look any better than A-Es to me!" I think that that's it in a nutshell. EGs don't look that much better to you than A-Es, and, therefore, it is completely reasonable for you to see them as overpriced and of no interest to you. The point here is that for many forumers (and others), EGs DO look that much better, and once these folks have seen what a truly beautiful shoe can look like, they are no longer satisfied with what a pair of A-Es delivers esthetically. (I might add somewhat tangentially that I like A-Es--just not for dress purposes--and I have purchased 8 pairs mainly for weekend casual wear and for outdoor activities. My most recent acquisition was a pair of Wilberts that I plan to wear alot while romping around the Gulf Islands that lie off the coast of British Columbia.)

There is one last little thing, and I think the earlier references to the ubiquity of A-Es and the frequent sales touch on it. It's this: If a pair of shoes made in the US (with its high wages) can sell for $129, and, further, if we can assume that even at that price a small profit is being made by the seller, what are we to think about the actual costs of labor and materials that went into those shoes? A-E is, after all, selling the shoes to the stores at a profit. Did a pair of Park Avenues, when all labor and material costs are factored in, actually cost A-E only about $60 to manufacture? (I know that I'm guessing at some of these numbers, but I doubt that I'm that far off.) The extremely deep discounts on A-Es inevitably create the perception that they are, in reality, pretty cheap shoes. When one considers that the price of factory seconds directly from C&J, for example (and thus no store needing to make a profit on top of the factory's profit), on a pair of Handgrades is probably about twice the A-E price at the deepest discount (someone has published direct factory-second prices here for C&J, but I can't find it; thus, I'm prepared to be corrected on the specifics here), it is hard to believe that the A-E leather is of as good quality and that as much care went into their manufacture as would be true for shoes manufactured in a country with lower wages. Perhaps some would be tempted to say that A-E can do this because of greater efficiency in their factory, but I doubt that anyone knows this to be true, and, even if it were, I strongly suspect that it would fail to explain the differences here. Others might surmise that different profit margins are involved, but again I think it's hard--in light of their frequent price reductions that amount to 55%--to see A-Es as anything other than cheaper shoes.
post #44 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roger
There is one last little thing, and I think the earlier references to the ubiquity of A-Es and the frequent sales touch on it. It's this: If a pair of shoes made in the US (with its high wages) can sell for $129, and, further, if we can assume that even at that price a small profit is being made by the seller, what are we to think about the actual costs of labor and materials that went into those shoes? A-E is, after all, selling the shoes to the stores at a profit. Did a pair of Park Avenues, when all labor and material costs are factored in, actually cost A-E only about $60 to manufacture? (I know that I'm guessing at some of these numbers, but I doubt that I'm that far off.) The extremely deep discounts on A-Es inevitably create the perception that they are, in reality, pretty cheap shoes. When one considers that the price of factory seconds directly from C&J, for example (and thus no store needing to make a profit on top of the factory's profit), on a pair of Handgrades is probably about twice the A-E price at the deepest discount (someone has published direct factory-second prices here for C&J, but I can't find it; thus, I'm prepared to be corrected on the specifics here), it is hard to believe that the A-E leather is of as good quality and that as much care went into their manufacture as would be true for shoes manufactured in a country with lower wages. Perhaps some would be tempted to say that A-E can do this because of greater efficiency in their factory, but I doubt that anyone knows this to be true, and, even if it were, I strongly suspect that it would fail to explain the differences here. Others might surmise that different profit margins are involved, but again I think it's hard--in light of their frequent price reductions that amount to 55%--to see A-Es as anything other than cheaper shoes.

Roger, I find this such an interesting debate. Here, though, it seems like you're advocating the position that an expensive price tag suggests better quality, or at least is a prerequisite for it. But that runs contrary to some of the basic tenants of the church of SF. My beloved Corneliani, for example, can be found frequently for less than $400; does that somehow suggest that the Corneliani is a cheap or shoddy suit? Similarly, I don't see how one can conclude that AEs must be of "cheap" quality when the evidence, outside the price tag, suggests otherwise. At what point does one stop assuming that an increased cost represents better quality?

Thoughts?
post #45 of 90
Quote:
Originally Posted by DocHolliday
Roger, I find this such an interesting debate. Here, though, it seems like you're advocating the position that an expensive price tag suggests better quality, or at least is a prerequisite for it. But that runs contrary to some of the basic tenants of the church of SF. My beloved Corneliani, for example, can be found frequently for less than $400; does that somehow suggest that the Corneliani is a cheap or shoddy suit? Similarly, I don't see how one can conclude that AEs must be of "cheap" quality when the evidence, outside the price tag, suggests otherwise. At what point does one stop assuming that an increased cost represents better quality. Thoughts?
What I was trying to suggest is that the extremely deep discounts create an impression of cheapness with A-Es--not that they are necessarily "cheap" shoes in the pejorative sense. However, in my comparison of A-Es at $129 and C&J seconds at the factory, my point was that it's unlikely--given the wages, dollars, etc., involved--that as much paid labor and as expensive leather went into the former--that they are cheaper (in comparison with C&J Handgrades). Again, this doesn't necessarily imply that "AEs much be of 'cheap' quality." But at the end of the day, if one shoe costs $60 to make in a country with high wages, whereas another costs $125 to make in a country with lower wages (and please don't get hung up on the numbers here), the probability seems high (although never 1.0) that the latter shoe is of better quality.

I should probably hasten to add that quality of manufacture has never been a big deal to me vis-a-vis A-E shoes; they have seemed adequate in that area. I added the last paragraph in my previous post just to throw in an afterthough based on some earlier views expressed in this thread by others. Even if we were to ignore any possible quality of materials/manufacture factors, the main point remains that to many sartorially-advanced men, A-Es just don't look as good--for serious business and dress occasions--as the other shoes mentioned and particularly EGs.
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