I did an extensive search on both this site and others but couldn't find a full answer. At what point did ET Wright's quality decline? Would it be safe to assume that their Made in USA shoes are of good quality? If so, how would they compare to other common brands?
ET Wright Shoes: Over what period were they good?
The early, union-made Arch Preservers are excellent shoes. As is so often true, the older the shoe, the higher the quality. They are not easy to date with precision, but if you can find a pair with a sewn-in cloth label you will have made a score. They are generally on a par with vintage Florsheims from the same period.
I've never owned any except the American production although I have seen shoes on line bearing the Wright name which look to have been made in Italy or in Asia. It's a safe bet that these don't hold up to the originals. I could offer a guess that as with other American manufacturers, Wright began offshore outsourcing sometime in the 1980s.
The good news is that you can find very good Wrights on line, often unused, for extremely reasonable prices. These are drastically undervalued, in my view. Look for the Wright Breather line, and their Cordwainer shoes.
I started wearing E.T. Wright shoes in the early 1970s and bought my last pair around 1991. I thought hey were a solid step above Florsheim's- except for a few high-end Florsheim styles. In the 1970s, I bought Wright slip ons, and then I discovered this very comfortable and sylish lace-up, 4 eyelet, wing tip in 1979 and later bought two replacements of the same shoe. After that I shifted to J&M, again with lace-up styles.
Meanwhile Wright discontinued this favorite style of mine. I think the quality was good in this period from about 1974-1991, although I did notice the arch preserver "bump" had become less pronounced.