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How do others rate Allen Edmond Shoes - Page 2

post #16 of 49
I am very fond of AE bucks with rubber soles (light brown suede with dark brown rubber sole). I've got 3 pairs and wear them as my regular weekend shoes during the colder months of the year. I'll continue to buy these (I think anyway; I just discovered Yanko (from Spain) (at Sky Valet in Washington, DC) makes an even more elegant-looking shoe.) On the other hand, as others have said, AE dress shoes have gradually gotten pushed towards "workhorse" or rainy day duty, as English makes such as Grenson, C&J and Edward Green are simply better looking across the board (as well as being made of better materials and more finely constructed) and more comfortable. Side by side, my AE tassel loafers are dowdy compared to my Grenson tassel loafers I got from www.bennies.com; and my AE oxfords are like Oldsmobiles next to the Porsches or Mercedes that are my Edward Greens. That's just the looks, side by side. Alone, AE's don't look "bad" at all. I still wear mine regularly, but they don't elicit the same sense of being well-dressed as they do when I'm wearing Grensons or EGs.
post #17 of 49
i'll agree with most of the above comments. i wear allen-edmonds because it's all i can reasonably afford right now, (aside from the J&M handgrades) and they look fine. in my SES they are comparatively very nice looking. most of my peers wear either inelegant casual shoes of questionable quality (i.e. kenneth cole, clark's, etc) or sneakers, or doc marten-type things. to add more perspective, they beat bostonian and florsheim for only a little more money. to add to the price/cost opinions, i would say that AE's are right at the knee of the curve where it moves into the territory of diminishing returns. (not that the returns aren't real, just that they are less and less affordable.) /andrew
post #18 of 49
Echoing what has already been said (and consequently adding no value); I find AE shoes to lack the elegance of brands frequently discussed on this site and my once extensive collection has been systematically replaced with C&J and EG. I would like to credit the company for adding sophisticated designs, but almost to the shoe the outcome has been off target and a few have been simply awful. Of the AE shoes that I have yet to donate to the Salvation Army (7 pairs) only two pairs are still on the front line, the remaining five have been relegated to the rain and snow platoon. The most frustrating part about my shift away from AE's is that I continue to find them to be the most comfortable shoes that I own. Furthermore, they are priced right and come with just enough associated political nostalgia (solid workmanship and bit of Midwestern pluck) to bring a smile to my face. Summary; AE makes a solid shoe of good value but one that lacks a level of refinement needed to move it into the top tier of RTW shoes.
post #19 of 49
In the past two years, I have purchased 23 pairs of A-Es, mostly at the Cabazon outlet, a couple at Nordstrom's sales. I would second the opinion that A-Es are right at the point of diminishing returns on the value to quality ratio. As for the perennial A-E vs. Alden debate, when you are comparing A-Es at full retail ($295 for most calfskin) vs. their Alden counterparts (perhaps $50 to $60 more), then I might seriously consider the Aldens. However, I have paid on the average about $150 for my A-Es (mostly seconds with imperceptible flaws). Aldens may be better, but not $200 better in my book. (If low-budget bargains in Aldens were easy to find, this would level the playing field considerably, but except at the occasional Brooks sale, they are not.) I would concede that C&J Handgrades and Edward Greens are definitely nicer shoes, but with the exception of E-Bay "finds" and the like, you are going to be paying a lot more than I, for one, care to blow on a pair of shoes. The going rate for Greens in my neck of the woods starts at $850, and I am one of those poor working stiffs for whom a $700 price differential is significant. And just remember, these are shoes we're talking about, items where one misstep can irreparably mar them. (Just lacerated a favorite pair of high-quality chukka boots on a parking lot divider on Saturday. They polished up quite well, but they will never quite be the same again.) As to elegant lasts and A-E's "clunkiness," etc., this is largely in the eye of the beholder. Some A-E styles I like and purchase, some I don't and leave unbought. (Certainly they are no worse than Aldens in this regard.) I am not particularly smitten with a lot of Italian shoe styling, BTW, although some are attractive. This topic comes up quite often. There was a huge thread about this on the "Ask Andy" forum a few weeks ago that the questioner might find of interest. And my sincere apologies to forum regulars for sounding like a damn broken record.
post #20 of 49
FWIW, I used to wear Johnston & Murphy and Cole Haan pretty much exclusively for dress shoes. When I stepped up to a couple of pairs of Allen Edmonds, I noticed a remarkable increase in the level of comfort (to the point where there was no way I could go back to J&M or CH). I have since purchased several higher end shoes, including Alden, Edward Green, C&J and Vass. The only time I have noticed a similar increase in comfort level is with Vass (my Budapests are truly in a class by themselves). While the styling of the English shoes might be more elegant or refined, I agree that A-E seems to be right at the high point of the bell curve of diminishing returns for quality. I did not put on a pair of Edward Greens and say to myself, from a comfort prespective, that there was no way I could go back to A-E. I am personally more partial to Alden, but this is due to my own bias, as I am from New England (that, and I love shell cordovan, and Alden has more styles in shell than does A-E). However, I own 3 pairs of Allen Edmonds, and wear them all with regularity. Jeff
post #21 of 49
Reading JLibourel's post got me thinking about how I approach shoe buying. This reminded me of earlier discussions about clothing budgets, which can be a nice way to force trade-offs. I have started doing this unconsciously since joining the board, and have found myself willing to pay a bit more to get exactly what I want, but being a lot more finicky about being sure that what I do buy meets my needs very well. I don't think I've saved much money in terms of outlay, but I do feel like I'm getting a bit more value out of my purchases in that I wear them more and am always really happy to do so. Part of this change has to do with having a fairly complete wardrobe, meaning no need to buy in bulk to cover the staple items. Part of it has to do with not having closet space to store it all. But an even bigger part is based on changing the way that I think about a 'deal'. Cost-benefit analysis on a case-by-case basis will tend to drive purchasing the less-expensive shoe at all times, but in the long run you end up with a collection that is less diverse and has fewer stand-out items than it might have been had you allocated that same budget differently. Ironically, if you do a cost-benefit for each individual purchase, you also may end up spending more than you intended (easy to justify each purchase at the time because they are objectively 'cheap' and the deals always seem to good to pass up - your credit card bills don't spike because the purchases aren't 'lumpy' and therefore you don't really call yourself to account for how much you are spending in aggregate). At the end of the spending period you don't ever decide to step up to a fancier item that can't be had at a discount even though you could have afforded it within the total amount you spent. The reason that JL's post got me started (and I say this with all due respect plus a little extra 'cuz I know that he knows his way around a gun) was that using an average price of $150 and a total of 23 pairs of shoes one gets a two-year 'shoe budget' of more than three grand, which can buy a lot of shoes. My guess is that each purchase wasn't thought of as a share of that budget, but rather as a 'one-off' deal. The proximity of the A-E outlet and the unbeatable prices allowed JLibourel to assemble an extensive collection of shoes, but likely also kept him more wedded to the line than he might have been had he consciously set out to allocate what turned out to be a fairly generous shoe budget. I wanted to do a 'thought experiment' around different options with the same money (again, purely for the sake of argument and not to say that every one of JL's purchases weren't perfect for him). This is also assuming that an individual is not an odd size, an assumption I make because I wouldn't guess that outlets have lots of 12AAAs lying around. So, to the task at hand - if one had the same budget, one could use it differently and still wind up with a nice collection of 14 shoes that included a lot of A-Es for day-to-day wear (JL mentioned a very reasonable concern about ruining nice shoes) but also mixed in some of the pricier fare that we all know and love. If I had that money and I liked A-Es for the price, I might get about 10 pairs of A-E at the average price of $150, which would more than cover the range of 'basic shoe' styles. This would leave plenty of extra money. I'd then mix in three pairs of 'better shoes' at an average price of $350 (these could include full-priced Alden, Martegani, or Gravati, discounted Polo C&Js - easy to find on Ebay for ~$200-$250 - or a pair of C&Js ordered from PLal) and a single pair of full-price, high-end shoes at $650-850 (Vass, Green, full price Grenson at Paul Stuart). This division would give a smaller collection - 14 pairs - but likely both a range of different styles as well as the chance to get a couple of really high-end shoes to mix in when needed. Obviously some people may simply prefer the styling (and comfort) of AEs to all other shoes, in which case you may as well get as many as your house can hold. I just thought that it might be useful to change the frame for cost-benefit to include one's whole shoe 'portfolio' rather than getting the efficiency curve for each pair.
post #22 of 49
that's pretty astute reasoning. the difficulty with this approach is saying upfront that you want to spend $3000 on shoes for the next 2 years. especially if you have to say it to a spouse. letting the money trickle out over time is less conspicuous. (unless your wife watches the credit card statement assiduously and has a mind like an adding machine...ouch.) however, let's say you've established a pattern of spending, and your 'managing partner' sees this pattern and realizes that indeed the boat will not sink at that level of spending. then it is a bit easier to justify the budget ahead of time. of course, at the end of four years you will have amassed 37 pairs of shoes. which is probably good news for the 'buying and selling' forum followers who wear the same size. (please let it be 13.) /Andrew
post #23 of 49
faustian, thanks for reacting to that overlong post. you've hit the nail on the head - the key is to have the clarity to say 'you know what, i'm gonna end up dropping 3 Gs on this stuff, so I may as well do so judiciously'. my gf and i were discussing an upcoming vacation to charleston and we were joking about what my ben silver budget should be. we came up with $500, which is both a lot of money and not that much. that would be my major clothing haul for the next month or six weeks. making it concrete like that helped me really think about what in the catalog i wanted to try on in person and what i'd spend. in a way, it was liberating - i'd normally never consider one of their shirts (and i still probably won't), but i was able to seriously say - 'hey, if i want that shirt, i can get it, but it would mean no cordovan belt'. my point was that we all end up spending a ton of money chasing 'great deals' anyway and do so in the dribs and drabs you discussed. in addition to not arousing the ire of our sig others, it is also (at least in my case) a way to not deal explicitly with my clothing expenditures. and that's 'cuz i spend a lot and on some level don't want to accept that fact. but given that my spending wasn't that low with my old 'only buy deep discounts' strategy, i'd rather do my 'try to get things you really, really want, don't just stock up on reasonable deals'. worst of all (and for this i blame the board), i have now finally discovered that there are a lot of really nice things that just don't get heavily discounted in one's size (e.g. the aforementioned cordovan belt, or exactly the right model of EG, or spectators that fit and look cool). that is because they are specialty items. but they are also (IMHO) sometimes the really cool things. so now i am explicitly setting aside money for overall purchases (money that seems obscenely generous at the outset, but may in the end curtail expenditures a bit if i stick with it) and allocating some of that money to the 'it won't ever be discounted' variety of purchases. the final benefit of this strategy for me is that i can in good conscience pay full price for these unique items and support small men's stores (franco's, sky valet in dc and even ben silver) that i value but would never be able to consider during my discount-only days.
post #24 of 49
Your comment about my shoe-buying binge of the past couple of years, Duveen, was very insightful. Had I known I was going to blow that much, I have sometimes thought I might have been better off springing for a few pairs of Eddie Greens. The approach you suggest of getting a basic wardrobe of 10 pairs for about $1,500 and spending the balance on the higher-end shoes makes even more sense. A few points: One of the inducements to splurge in this manner has been the A-E "Cobbler's Club," wherein if you buy 12 pairs at the outlet, you get a free pair. I got one pair in this fashion and most of another (since they let me use my six-pair $95 recrafting bonus toward the purchase of a $129 pair of shoes). Second, I feel little compulsion to buy better than A-Es in my world. When virtually all the men I work with and most of the men I see about me wear sneakers or sandals, it is really going to be inconsequential whether I am wearing A-Es or EGs. If I were around men of elegance--the sort that did wear EGs--then I would probably feel differently about this matter. As it is, except for the few EGs that I see, no other shoe appeals to me enough to make me want to spend significantly more than what I pay for A-Es. The fact that I know I can get A-Es for around $150 serves as a major brake on more expensive shoe purchases. Finally, I imagine that my shoe buying frenzy has largely burnt itself out already. I probably have more than enough decent shoes to last me the rest of my life, given that I just turned 63 and I don't have a lot of longevity in my family. Moreover, with all that I've got, there really isn't that much left in the A-E line to excite me, even at $150 a pair.
post #25 of 49
Quote:
Cost-benefit analysis on a case-by-case basis will tend to drive purchasing the less-expensive shoe at all times, but in the long run you end up with a collection that is less diverse and has fewer stand-out items than it might have been had you allocated that same budget differently.
So basically JLibourel focused on internal energy instead of free energy, neglecting the entropy contribution. How foolish. Mathieu
post #26 of 49
Hmmm, Mathieu, I don't get it. Maybe I was speaking in jargon, too and that's yr point. If not, I'm curious to hear the science logic that you reference. I did want to amend my post a bit - the advantage of getting the full-price EG or the full-price Alden/Gravati/Martegani/Yanko is not just the quality and the snob factor, but also the ability to get a style that your 'main source' (in this case A-E) doesn't do at all or doesn't do well. Giving yourself permission to pay full price to get exactly what you want means not forcing your tastes into the procrustean bed of a single shoe line. Once you get your ten basic pairs, you get to think of the styles you want first, who does them best second and then feel free to pay through the nose for that unique item (e.g. EG Spectators that JL was lusting over on another thread) that the other company just can't touch.
post #27 of 49
Entropy is when there exists variety. If you always buy the best deal you may end up buying 20 pairs of the exact same shoe. That's the lowest possible price but entropy = 0 (they are all the same). If you buy a few shoes which are more expensive then the price goes up by so does the entropy (you have difference shoes). The free energy is the internal energy minus temperature times entropy: F = U - TS. A higher entropy can compensate for a higher internal energy (that's why liquid and gas exist BTW). So buying a more expensive shoe can make sense if it is different from what you already own (that's scientific). Mathieu
post #28 of 49
Even had I limited myself to our hypothetical 10 pairs, my wife still would have had a fit had I paid $850 for those EG Spectators I lusted after...doubly so since she hated them--the old middlebrow, philistine crab that she is. Oh well, on reflection, I shouldn't be so hard on her. She is an extremely fit, attractive lady, and except for her philistine tastes, very easy to get along with. Should she keel over from an aneurysm or something I would be hard put to find a replacement as good.
post #29 of 49
Yeah, what he said. Allen-Edmonds: Good, basic, American classics you don't have to be ashamed of wearing, good QPR, reasonable cost. Yes, there are better shoes, but above AE you are into a different class. The class we all know so well as the "have to explain it to your wife" class. I am just hoping my wife doesn't ask how much those Alden spectators I just ordered cost. Saying Edward Green is better than AE is like saying a Rolls Royce is better than a Cadillac CTS. Yes, but... AE is the shoe I recommend to anyone who is a novice at dressing well. Avoid any "new school" designs and you'll be ok.
post #30 of 49
Have been cogitating on the Alchimiste's "scientific" analyses of my purchasing habits. While I suppose with my loyalty to A-E, I am opting for a unformity of materials and quality standards, on the other hand, most styles of conservative men's dress shoes are going to be pretty similar irrespective of maker--the plain cap-toe bal, the perforated cap toe bal, the wing-tip bal with broguing, the medallion cap-toe blucher with broguing, the cap toe and plain toe bluchers, the Norwegian-front blucher. Doesn't just about everybody make these? A plain cap toe bal C&J handgrade will no doubt be more carefully made than an A-E Park Avenue. Maybe it will be more elegantly lasted, but really won't only the most discerning and educated eye be able to descry the nice differences?
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