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Shell cordovan and japanese friends

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Since joining this forum I've quite enjoyed reading and learning about various topics. I've not only increased my knowledge, but have learning some interesting things about clothing company history, etc. At times I have curiosity questions. This is one of those times. A number of times I have bid on shell cordovan shoes on eBay, but have yet to win. It seems I'm always outbid by a Japanese bidder. Can someone with some background explain to me the Japanese liking of shell cordovan shoes? In speaking with the Alden Shop in San Francisco and Adam Knott of Alden of Carmel, they both indicate they have many Japanese clients. I'm assuming one factor is how much these shoes would cost in Japan, but one bidder in particular must have purchased 30 plus pairs over the years. What am I missing? I've also talking to Allen Edmonds reps about this and they mention they have a large German following for their shell cordovan shoes and hence AE will make shell cordovan for many models that aren't stock in the US. Any insight?
post #2 of 9
Quote:
What am I missing? I've also talking to Allen Edmonds reps about this and they mention they have a large German following for their shell cordovan shoes and hence AE will make shell cordovan for many models that aren't stock in the US. Any insight?
No, no insight at all. I've heard that one of the things that has allowed Alden to survive is exports of shell cordovan shoes to Germany. I don't know why German and Japanese consumers are so enamored of shell cordovan shoes or why they're willing to pay as much as they do for them, but if it helps Alden and Allen-Edmonds survive, more power to them.
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
I once spoke with an AE rep at a store in Tennessee. He told me that frequently he'll have European and Japanese customer go into his store and spend thousands of dollars on large quantities of shoes. They will then wear the shoes while on vacation in the USA to avoid the duties imposed in their countries on new shoes. Another rep once told me that at his store, it wasn't unusual to have Japanese customers buy AE shoes in sizes much larger than they normally wear, with the intent of wearing them to avoid some duty. I would imagine they are wearing them for friends, but who knows. There is a customer on eBay, who I believe is from Japan, who buys all sizes of Alden shoes (as well as anything Brooks Brothers). I agree though. If we can keep Alden and Allen Edmonds going, so much the better.
post #4 of 9
At first blush, I think it is simply a matter of Japanese folks interested in bargains on brand name goods. Alden Barrie lasted shoes sell for about Y85,000 here in Japan.  That is roughly double the retail they command on-line in the US.  The almost never go on sale. I saw E Green's "cardiff" selling for just a touch over $1,000 last Sunday This is not limited to Alden shoes.  A Japanese-American friend in Seattle that worked at Coach used to tell of Japanese tourists that went on buying binges. A few years ago, the Hermes store in Paris instituted a policy limiting purchases of certain handbags by Japaneses people to 5....This was because brokers would ask people going overseas to buy popular bags and sell them at a profit once they returned to Japan. It is possible that the Japanes purchaser is making profit on the price differential.  (Ebay entered, then exited Japan.) There are quite a few men's fashion magazines here, and they feature the usual  suspects. There are quarterly magazines dedicated to shoes, very often divided geographically-- Italian, English, Japanese, and US makers. The US maker profiled first is invariably Alden...followed by Johnson and Murphy, and Allen Edmonds  (in that order). Cole Haan and Bass have a minimal presence. Alden is carried at very high class shops, and the firm has positioned itself here as a uniquely American luxury lifestyle item. I rarely see calf Aldens in Tokyo retail shops, and it is true that they make some models in cordovan that are not available in the US. (I don't want to overstate the situtation.  Alden is not a household name.  My Japanese girlfriend is mystified by my interest in shoes, and my on-line shoe boasting has been met with blank stares.) I suspect that part of it has to do with the Japanese admiration for things American, particularly East Coast traditional ("trad") that developed immediately after the war.  Th preppy look has quite a following here, and J. Press and Brooks Brothers both do very well. Alan Flusser suggested in his book that with the price of land in Japan, purchasing a home is out of the question for many people.  Excess income is spent on fashion items.  You may take that for what it is worth. Other brands that probably have a higher cachet in Japan than they do back home/elsewhere:  Hanes underwear (no joke), Washington State wines, Alfred Sargent shoes, Jack Nicholas golfwear, Almond Rocca, and Jelly Bellies, Rolex. Bic
post #5 of 9
Yeah, there's that one Japanese guy who always, always, always has to get every last Alden shoe listed on eBay. He must be stopped. Well, I don't really want any Alden shoes anymore. I used to, but I think I'm going to gravitate towards C&J from Plal.com instead.
post #6 of 9
Quote:
Yeah, there's that one Japanese guy who always, always, always has to get every last Alden shoe listed on eBay. He must be stopped.
There are a number of sellers on German eBay who buy Alden shoes (preferably shell cordovan, but also calfskin) in the States for re-sale in Germany. Obviously, they must make a profit; otherwise they would stop doing that. Why shouldn't Japanese sellers buy in the States for re-sale in Japan? Particular if that same person buys a number of shoes in totally different sizes, it's fair to assume they are doing it commercially.
post #7 of 9
Quote:
Why shouldn't Japanese sellers buy in the States for re-sale in Japan? Particular if that same person buys a number of shoes in totally different sizes, it's fair to assume they are doing it commercially.
I was half-kidding. If he turns a profit off of what he wins, great... but that might preclude others from winning shoes that they'll actually wear.
post #8 of 9
Thread Starter 
That all makes sense. If I were used to the price of shoes in my country and saw that I could get the same shoes for a fraction of the cost, I would probably buy a lot too. I lived in Argentina in during the Falkland Island conflict. The dollar became so strong against the peso that we could literally afford 3 or 4 times what we could the month previous to the war. Buying electronics inexpensively became a hobby.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
I think I now see why the many Japanese buyers. I went to a Japanese website, carrying Allen Edmonds shoes and here are the prices: Shelton $415 Dundee boot $565 in shell cordovan many variations of different shoes in shell cordovan that Edmonds doesn't have here for about $575 $660 for what appears to be Crockett and Jones handgrade http://www.lifegear-tradingpost.com/index.htm http://www.dressy.net/
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