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Where did Johnston & Murphy go wrong?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by dieselman89, Dec 25, 2010.

  1. dieselman89

    dieselman89 Well-Known Member

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    It's a shame that if you speak to most American males acquainted with style and ask about Johnston and Murphy they will all tell you the same thing...

    Johnston & Murphy used to be one of the best shoes on the market. They were a businessman shoe and were great quality and value. Over the past few years it's not the same. I was discussing this scenario with a reputable shoe salesman in Atlanta and said what's your take on J&M. He said the same thing everyone else on SF says "they used to be a great shoe...not so much anymore."

    That's honestly a shame. J&M used to stand for a great american shoe company but no longer. Where did they go wrong??? What needs to be done to bring this company back??? I find Allen Edmonds, the company which is now the top American shoe company rather boring.
     
  2. gnatty8

    gnatty8 Well-Known Member

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    I think the simple answer is they shifted focus to the mass market and slowly left the smaller niche market of top quality shoes. I haven't considered J&M as a credible source of shoes, but they seem to be doing quite well selling Made in Mexico sub $125 shoes at mall stores. I have held some of the made in the U.S. aristocraft shoes, and they are things of beauty. It's a shame, but a business decision that seems to have served them well. Talk to the average guy, and if he is aware of J&M at all, he'll probably describe their shoes as top shelf, top quality and expensive shoes.
     
  3. dieselman89

    dieselman89 Well-Known Member

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    I think the simple answer is they shifted focus to the mass market and slowly left the smaller niche market of top quality shoes. I haven't considered J&M as a credible source of shoes, but they seem to be doing quite well selling Made in Mexico sub $125 shoes at mall stores. I have held some of the made in the U.S. aristocraft shoes, and they are things of beauty. It's a shame, but a business decision that seems to have served them well. Talk to the average guy, and if he is aware of J&M at all, he'll probably describe their shoes as top shelf, top quality and expensive shoes.

    Good point, but like you said it's a shame. I bought a pair of their shoes not made in the USA (everything else I owned from them before hand was either made in Italy or USA and great stuff) but anyways the pair of shoes not made in the USA/made in Mexico are awful! They are just like kenneth cole/Macy's brand shoes. I will never buy another pair of J&M shoes not made in the USA. It will be tough to go back to buying J&M>
     
  4. Shoe City Thinker

    Shoe City Thinker Well-Known Member

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    The point after J&M were purchased by Genesco. Genesco is a company more focused on marketing brands that are aligned with fashion. Nowadays a J&M catalog resembles the state-side version of a Tyrwhitt catalog.

    How about a pair of J&M with your pair of Dockers? Same parent company.

    http://www.genesco.com/johnston_and_murphy


    In the hierarchy of men's dress shoes in terms of quality it goes as follows:

    Florshiem > Bostonian > J&M > Allen-Edmonds > Alden
     
  5. Tobacco Man

    Tobacco Man Well-Known Member

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    Manhattan
    The point after J&M were purchased by Genesco. Genesco is a company more focused on marketing brands that are aligned with fashion. Nowadays a J&M catalog resembles the state-side version of a Tyrwhitt catalog.

    How about a pair of J&M with your pair of Dockers? Same parent company.

    http://www.genesco.com/johnston_and_murphy


    In the hierarchy of men's dress shoes in terms of quality it goes as follows:

    Florshiem > Bostonian > J&M > Allen-Edmonds > Alden


    +1
     
  6. The Thin Man

    The Thin Man Well-Known Member

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    In the hierarchy of men's dress shoes in terms of quality it goes as follows: Florshiem > Bostonian > J&M > Allen-Edmonds > Alden
    The "less than" symbol is <. Just quibbling.
     
  7. it's ok ma'

    it's ok ma' Active Member

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    Dec 24, 2010

    In the hierarchy of men's dress shoes in terms of quality it goes as follows:

    Florshiem > Bostonian > J&M > Allen-Edmonds > Alden


    What? I thought some old Florsheim shoes were good. I've read elsewhere on here that Florsheim shoes were once good like J&M, if better.
     
  8. kmdsimpson

    kmdsimpson Well-Known Member

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    The point after J&M were purchased by Genesco. Genesco is a company more focused on marketing brands that are aligned with fashion. Nowadays a J&M catalog resembles the state-side version of a Tyrwhitt catalog.

    How about a pair of J&M with your pair of Dockers? Same parent company.

    http://www.genesco.com/johnston_and_murphy


    In the hierarchy of men's dress shoes in terms of quality it goes as follows:

    Florshiem > Bostonian > J&M > Allen-Edmonds > Alden


    I own a few pairs of the old made-in-America shoes, and they are as good as it gets for benchgrade shoes. I remember a colleague who only would buy J&M shoes.

    But related to the Genesco comment above, I vividly remember being in a J&M store one day and the salesman excitedly telling me about this new CEO who had come from a consumer products company and who had a vision of expanding the company and making it a more mainstream brand. They have successfully done that and killed quality in the process.
     
  9. westinghouse

    westinghouse Well-Known Member

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    Where did they ever go right?
     
  10. kmdsimpson

    kmdsimpson Well-Known Member

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    Where did they ever go right?

    A long time ago (20+ years) they were as good as anybody. I know it is hard to believe from seeing the crap they put out today.
     
  11. cptjeff

    cptjeff Well-Known Member

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    DCish
    What? I thought some old Florsheim shoes were good. I've read elsewhere on here that Florsheim shoes were once good like J&M, if better.

    Old florsheims were better than any RTW US brand these days. They do not make shoes anywhere near that quality anymore. They started branching out with lower end diffusion lines, and lost their catchet. They're a textbook case in why a luxury brand has to protect that image above all else.
     
  12. dieselman89

    dieselman89 Well-Known Member

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    A long time ago (20+ years) they were as good as anybody. I know it is hard to believe from seeing the crap they put out today.

    Yep, thats what I've heard. And it's amazing how anyone knowledgeable about the fashion industry will say that. Also, to the poster who said they had a colleague who used to only wear J&M, my dad was telling me the same thing. And he said the guy only wear J&M and it was such a big deal. The name brought quality and stood for AMERICAN QUALTIY! That's the one thing thats frustrates me the most. There are so many great shoe companies nowadays such as AE and Alden but Alden is expensive and AE is not very stylish (IMHO) just great quality. J&M once stood for great quality and style. Something not very common with American product but common with Italian shoes i.e. Ferragamo.

    Bring back the old J&m!!!!! I want the rep back!
     
  13. Shirtmaven

    Shirtmaven Well-Known Member

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    NYC
    Genesco= big corporation
    big corporation= need for higher profits
    need for higher profits= cost cutting
    cost cutting= lower quality
    lower quality = crap product!
     
  14. 69clyde

    69clyde Well-Known Member

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    The shoe department
    It's called out-sourcing...
     
  15. 69clyde

    69clyde Well-Known Member

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    The shoe department
    Same thing happened to Brooks Brothers...
     
  16. lee_44106

    lee_44106 Well-Known Member

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    the Zoo
    It's a shame that if you speak to most American males acquainted with style and ask about Johnston and Murphy they will all tell you the same thing...

    Johnston & Murphy used to be one of the best shoes on the market. They were a businessman shoe and were great quality and value. Over the past few years it's not the same. I was discussing this scenario with a reputable shoe salesman in Atlanta and said what's your take on J&M. He said the same thing everyone else on SF says "they used to be a great shoe...not so much anymore."

    That's honestly a shame. J&M used to stand for a great american shoe company but no longer. Where did they go wrong??? What needs to be done to bring this company back??? I find Allen Edmonds, the company which is now the top American shoe company rather boring.


    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    you sound like one of those senile, demented 80 year old who sits on a sofa all day in his Depends, lamenting the new and reminescing about the "good ol' days"
     
  17. RIDER

    RIDER Well-Known Member

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    RVA - NYC
    J&M USED to be the best welt factory (USA) shoe on the market. Period.

    But, the marketers took over, to say it simply.

    I remember we closed the shops on a Saturday evening and when we opened Monday morning it seemed the entire crew in Nashville had turned over. Like a weekend house cleaning. These new guys basically took over. A group from Noxell, if I remember well. Genesco had owned it for a long time....wasn't Genesco per se, it was when marketing overtook product in the 80's for many manufacturers that J&M started to spiral down from a quality and tradition standpoint. Of course, back then we were not really making any money for Genesco, so kind of hard to fault them. My father was the Mid-Atlantic wholesale man....I ran the Baltimore shop and then went down to DC to work at the 18th & M location, which was a great gig. We had a very simple, organized, old-time type business. Much less emphasis on styles and much more on sizes and widths in a core group of shoes. In the end, tastes changed, finances changed...the market changed. J&M changed with it - or maybe even was ahead of the change.

    Interestingly, my father jumped over to A/E who immediately took over the classic shoe business on the east coast where J&M had been very strong.....and, thanks to Nordstrom, continued this business philosophy of a few key shoes in many sizes and widths to a successful 20 year run. Now, after the real shoe people turned A/E over to the marketers, the story is repeating itself. With the only exception being the trade agreements in place now that were not then, which allow brands to go off-shore without really saying so. Dad retired last year....'just in time'. Or 'on-time' depending your perspective on these things.

    If you somehow find a new deadstock pair of Aristocrafts or Crown Aristocrafts out there before they went to the trampoline insoles (20 + yrs old) you will be buying a better shoe than any brand new A/E or Alden shoe coming out now, IMO.
     
  18. Crane's

    Crane's Well-Known Member

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    Chasing tornadoes across the plains.
    I have an old pair of made in Italy J&amp;Ms that have been resoled I don't know how many times now. They are one of my most comfortable pair of shoes I own with a nice patina to match. It'll be a shame when they finally die. I'm sure it's going to cost me a bunch to find a shoe of that quality today.
     
  19. The Deacon

    The Deacon Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    1,296
    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2006
    J&M USED to be the best welt factory (USA) shoe on the market. Period.

    But, the marketers took over, to say it simply.

    I remember we closed the shops on a Saturday evening and when we opened Monday morning it seemed the entire crew in Nashville had turned over. Like a weekend house cleaning. These new guys basically took over. A group from Noxell, if I remember well. Genesco had owned it for a long time....wasn't Genesco per se, it was when marketing overtook product in the 80's for many manufacturers that J&M started to spiral down from a quality and tradition standpoint. Of course, back then we were not really making any money for Genesco, so kind of hard to fault them. My father was the Mid-Atlantic wholesale man....I ran the Baltimore shop and then went down to DC to work at the 18th & M location, which was a great gig. We had a very simple, organized, old-time type business. Much less emphasis on styles and much more on sizes and widths in a core group of shoes. In the end, tastes changed, finances changed...the market changed. J&M changed with it - or maybe even was ahead of the change.

    Interestingly, my father jumped over to A/E who immediately took over the classic shoe business on the east coast where J&M had been very strong.....and, thanks to Nordstrom, continued this business philosophy of a few key shoes in many sizes and widths to a successful 20 year run. Now, after the real shoe people turned A/E over to the marketers, the story is repeating itself. With the only exception being the trade agreements in place now that were not then, which allow brands to go off-shore without really saying so. Dad retired last year....'just in time'. Or 'on-time' depending your perspective on these things.

    If you somehow find a new deadstock pair of Aristocrafts or Crown Aristocrafts out there before they went to the trampoline insoles (20 + yrs old) you will be buying a better shoe than any brand new A/E or Alden shoe coming out now, IMO.


    Thank you!
     
  20. Boston Tweed

    Boston Tweed Well-Known Member

    Messages:
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    Feb 12, 2009

    In the hierarchy of men's dress shoes in terms of quality it goes as follows:

    Florshiem > Bostonian > J&M > Allen-Edmonds > Alden



    I'd just like to echo what everyone else here said. I own a pair of made in the USA J&M from the early 1990s and they are superior to my AE and roughly on par with my calfskin Aldens. Truly great shoes, and a shame what happened with their mainline products.

    Only thing I'd like to change are the rankings above. In my opinion they are as follows:

    Florsheim < Bostonian < J&M <<<<<<< AE < Alden

    It isn't just a space between Florsheim/Bostonian/J&M/Kenneth Cole/most Cole Haan and AE, it is a chasm. The quality difference between leathers and construction is just unbelievable.
     

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