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Alden shoe fit vs AE

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
So a few months ago I was working in NYC and walking between buildings when I noticed a small shop called "Alden." Well heck, I've just stumbled past the famed manhattan alden shop. Had to work for a bit, but eventually got my lazy butt on over to alden to check out a few shoes. Problem is that they couldn't find a proper match for my feet. My AEs fit perfectly at 8d, but the Aldens let my heel bounce around, even though the ball was perfect. I have small heels and the aldens are quite big in the back, and would not be comfortable in the long haul. We went through a few different shoes just in case, but nothing worked quite right. A few here have said something about Aldens being measured in an 8b/d manner, but the salesperson at the store looked at me like I was a bit crazy. He said my feet dont fit in the shoes, and that was the end of the story. They of course suggested putting in padding or something, but my experience with padding has been less than useful in the past. They always compress down and are never truely comfortable. The AEs that fit me right are a pair of Chesters. 8 D 26446 10 1983 3219 Love the shoes, but I have seen some shoes here that have blown me out of the water, and I don't want to be stuck only with one choice of shoe manufacturer. Whats a guy with small heels to do? Was the sales person incorrect and that there are aldens I could deal with? How about other brands that we all lust after on here? Martegani or Vass etc.
post #2 of 9
A few here have said something about Aldens being measured in an 8b/d manner, but the salesperson at the store looked at me like I was a bit crazy.  He said my feet dont fit in the shoes, and that was the end of the story.
The salesman wasn't knowledgeable. Aldens are sized as 8B/D or 8 A/C, in what's called a combination last. The idea is to accomodate a narrower heel. So much for that theory, I guess. There are various Alden lasts that you could try, I'm not well versed in them. Some have mentioned disappointment with the NYC Alden Shop. Perhaps you could find another store that carries Alden where they know what they're talking about.
post #3 of 9
Here's information in quotes on Alden combination heel/toe width sizing. The standard heel sizing for the D width appears to be "B". I don't know whether you can special order a narrower "A" heel size (it will take four months for an Alden special order and probably another $40 on top of the shoe if not cordovan). If you want to continue your relationship with the Alden shop at 44th & Madison (which is where I presume you went), you might want to call the senior salesperson there, John DiScala, at 212-687-3023, and ask him about special orders for width. "Widths AA A B C D E EE EEE Very Narrow Narrow Medium Wide Extra Wide The most common width is medium - D or E If you currently own Aldens, please provide the size/width markings found on the linings of the shoes. All Alden shoes are made on combination lasts to provide for a better heel fit. Alden shoes have a double letter width marking found next to the size marking. The first letter represents the heel fit and the second letter represents the width of the shoe. Examples: 10 B/D = size 10 'D' width 10 C/E = size 10 'E' width" [b]
post #4 of 9
Concerning other shoe makers and fit, you can talk to our own Rider at Franco's in Richmond. They don't have Alden, but do have AE and a number of Italian brands for which special order is an option. Also relatively close to Oak Hill is Eljo's in Charlottesville, which does carry Alden. In DC is Sky Valet (?), mentioned here from time to time, which has the Spanish brand Yanko and other higher end brands. There are lots of quality brands out there and you have fairly easy access to many of them from Oak Hill. And a big thanks to Oak Hill Academy for supplying the University of Kentucky with some great players (I won't even hold Rashaad Carruth against them ).
post #5 of 9
Some have mentioned disappointment with the NYC Alden Shop. Perhaps you could find another store that carries Alden where they know what they're talking about.
I used to shop at the 44th/Madison Alden shop but now shop with Ben at Citi Shoes (56th and Park). He's friendly and knowledgeable and citishoes has a website. Others on this forum recommend Adam Knott on the west coast, Alden of Carmel, which also has a website. Or call Alden Shoes customer service (I think the website is
post #6 of 9
Keep in mind that when it comes to fit, what matters most is the shape of the last that a shoe was made on (the style of the shoe matters to a somewhat lesser extent), not the manufacturer of the shoe. All shoe manufacturers use a variety of different lasts to make their shoes, and the fit characteristics of these lasts can differ radically. For example, shoes made on Alden's Aberdeen last fit nothing whatever like shoes made on Alden's Barrie last. I'm much less familiar with Allen-Edmonds lasts, but I know that they use a number of them. You're looking for trouble if you think that Manufacturer X's shoes will fit you and Manufacturer Y's will not. I wouldn't give up on Alden just yet: learn about the different lasts, try them on, and talk to a salesman who isn't clueless about the brand. The same is true for the other brands that you mention. Vass and Martegani (or Gravati or Grenson or Crockett & Jones or any of a number of other manufacturers) might have something that would work for you, but you'll have to try some shoes on to tell.
post #7 of 9
Well, this is always difficult without seeing the feet. There are a few points to keep in mind, however. I am not aware of any shoes that are NOT made on a combination last - Alden just happens to denote both the ball and heel dimensions. In addition, the instep dimension, in this case, is C. It's all symmetrical. In my experience, most customers who feel that they have 'narrow ankles' actually have low insteps. This caused the foot to shift forward in the shoe, opening up the heel. What confuses me here is that the 3 last from A/E (Chester) is a good fit. This last has the highest instep girth of all the A/E lasts - usually fits high insteps very well; unusual for a balmoral (oxford). If I do my math correctly, the dimensions of the 3 last (rudimentary, anyway) are: length = 11 1/24 girth = 9 I have no way of knowing the heel, but it is in scale. You could forward this information to Alden and ask what last they suggest. I would probably go to the Alden shop on K St. (and 17th) in DC and see who is good there. This is what I can tell from the information posted. It would be more helpful to know the brannock measurements. Perhaps, in this case, we trully have narrow heels. Another thing to keep in mind is the construction of the shoe. I do not sell Alden, but a welted shoe will need some time to properly flex in. Straight out of the box, with an insole/welt/outsole that has not been creased, you can usually expect a little slipping at the heel. Not excessive now, just noticable. You can say all you want about what should be, but this is the way it is. While Alden is a very good shoe, we are not talking bespoke here. As the shoe molds to your gait, the slipping will mostly disappear. What model were you trying? Double sole perhaps? Shell Cordovan? These can all be that much more stiff at the beginning. Again, I do not fit Alden, so I am assuming a few things. Finally, every manufacturer has many lasts - they all offer different fits, even when labeled the same size. The last is changed for pattern, fashion and/or fit reasons. Also, we have not considered the heel cup material, quality of insole,time on the last before removing, vamp height. Tricky, huh? This all matters. As far as the Italians go, in my case, Martegani and Gravati both fit well in the heel in most cases, while Borgioli is more like a British fit. Hard for me to compare for you though - come on down and let me fit you.
post #8 of 9
Your heel will slip a little in an Alden until the shoe breaks in -- especially if the shoe has a double sole.
post #9 of 9
Thread Starter 
rider: I might just take you up on that offer. My work takes me down to richmond every once in a while, and I will definitely stop by on my next trip. (Unfortuantely I am not in the southern VA oak hill, but the one near herndon/reston.)
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