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Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Mild Mannered, Sep 27, 2009.
They look a bit similar to the Rush from the AE Independence collection
Johnston & Murphy makes three levels of Goodyear-welted shoes.
The Melton (lowest level) is definitely Goodyear-welted, and it's been available for quite some time. However, the quality of J&M's Goodyear-welted shoes that are below the AE price point are there for a reason. They are made in India, and the finishing on them is inferior. They are 270 degree welted, and the area where the welt is blended with the heel seat is almost always very messy looking. Also, the Melton is made from decidedly plastic looking corrected grain leather. Essentially, you have a shoe made from typically inferior cemented construction dress shoe components that have been assembled using the Goodyear-welted manufacturing process. I would also point out the insoles that J&M uses. Quite gimmicky, with terms like "Trampoline Cushioning System" and "Optima Cushioning System." These really just amount to cheap foam layered insoles with fiberboard. The Hyde Park II level shoe (their middle tier) is better than the Melton in leather quality, but it still uses inferior insole materials and is made overseas. Again, price reflects this inferior material and overseas construction. Finally, their Crown Aristocraft line, such as the Georgetown II, is made in the traditional Goodyear-welted process with good quality materials. It is made in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a respectable shoe. The issue with it, however, is that it is conspicuously more expensive than the Park Avenue (with little to show for it other than being 270 degree welted, which is considered more elegant for a cap toe). It is cheaper than Alden by about $100, however, so if you want something that is a bit nicer in finishing than the Park Avenue but aren't ready to pay Alden (or higher) prices, then it may be a decent choice. However, I don't personally like supporting J&M's business model, so I would stick with AE or go to one of the nicer brands if desired.
thanks! Always interested in anything involving Mark Twain! His autobiography was absolutely hilarious!
While I agree with a lot of what you are saying here, there are a couple things that I wanted to point out for anyone not familiar with Carmina:
EE in Carmina sizing is not the same as an EE in Allen Edmonds or even US sizing. Carmina generally goes by UK whole and half number sizing, with the majority of their lasts offered in one width option (they have wide versions of the Rain and Forest lasts I believe). UK width sizing is different than US width sizing, such that a D in US is roughly equivalent to an E in UK. So that EE that Carmina states as the width for one last, might actually be just a slightly wide last and not an extra wide size as you would see on an EE shoe in AE.
Carmina, like AE has many different lasts, but unlike AE, their lasts span a wider spectrum of overall widths/fits. For example, the Simpson last is an extra narrow, chiseled toe last that would never fit me in a million years. That said, they have a nearly identical shaped, but much wider last in the Rain (which has an even wider version available). I would say the Simpson is easilly more narrow than a standard D width US shoe, wheras the EE width Rain last is probably in between a D and an E width US size. I'd have to imagine that the wide Rain last is somewhere in the realm of an EE in US sizing. They have other lasts that are good examples of this as well, with the Alcadia being an almond shaped, narrow last and the Forest being a pretty standard, wider, round toe last, much like the AE 1-last.
So while Carmina may not have much as far as width options in individual lasts, they do have numerous options across the span of all their lasts.
I have the bourbon McAllisters. With stock laces they can be dressed up well, with really any suit color other than black. If you use a pair of colored laces with them, they can be dressed down quite easily as well. Very versatile shoe IMO. I have the Kenilworth's in dark brown. If they fit better, they would easily be my favorite pair. However, I find the Kenilworth to be an odd bird. Definitely doesn't fit like any other 5 last shoe I've tried.
I will... as soon as I replace them with another black shoe. Unfortunately they are the only black dress shoe I own.
Please post pics of them when they arrive (for comparison's sake )
I am not intimately familiar with Carmina, so I don't know how their widths fit. I just figured if I didn't mention the EE width, someone else was going to.
Here's the problem with their options over all their lasts: I'm going to assume (though perhaps this is wrong) that they can't make each of their styles of shoe on any of those lasts. So, for example, their LWB can't be made on a narrow last, if its only made up for their extra wide last. So yeah, they have options, but if you want a pair of their boots, and they only come on a last that doesn't work for you at that width, you're out of luck. This is as opposed to AE who does a wonderful job of making their lasts available over the full range of widths.
Oh my gawd.
I think I just found a pair of boots to solve all my versatility problems. Now to save up for a year to be able to afford one of the shoes. I'll order the other one in 2015.
And this is the advantage of having more volume. You can either be like cole haan and churn out a ton of shoes in different models or offer different widths for more classical shoes so more people can take advantage of them.
I bet there's atleast one AE last/width combo for every person that wears dress shoes that would be a good fit. They clearly have enough.
I think I own a pair of these that I bought used. Once I got them I was a little disappointed since they basically look and feel like plastic. They're pretty comfortable and they were brand new for like 40 bucks so whatever. I still wish I hadn't gotten them.
Still, they'll be a good pair of shoes to learn to polish/shine etc. I bet I'll be able to take selfies of myself looking at the sole once I have them polished up.
I might try using leather conditioner on them to see if they soften up a bit at all. I guess they're fine for what they are. Mine don't say 'optima' on the bottom though.
Interesting discussion that's been taking place on the "high-end" status, or lack thereof, regarding AE.
I just have a few thoughts, and with a couple of them, I don't mean any offense.
I don't think AE considers themselves to be a "high-end" shoe company. I think they consider themselves to be a high quality shoe and strive to produce the highest quality they can while keeping prices as low as possible. These two goals are obviously at odds with each other, but I think AE balances them very well.
I do think that the status of the men's clothing/shoe industry has incidentally made AE a "high-end" shoe. The proliferation of cheap materials, cheap manufacturing methods, and cheap labor has skewed the spectrum in the negative direction substantially over the last several decades. As a result, shoes which are made using traditional methods and respectable materials are forced to be more expensive, and they often stand out visually, even to the uninformed masses. They may not know why they look nicer, but they can frequently tell that you have on more expensive shoes. I fully believe that in a poll of "average" men, AE would end up being ranked as a "high-end" shoe. Those of us who have been on SF long enough, and know about shoes, know that there are absolutely other brands that spend significantly more time, effort, and money in their finishing. Those additional costs get shifted to the consumer when it comes time to purchase them.
It is silly to forget that we are discussing a spectrum here. Saying that AE isn't a high end shoe simply because of the existence of better shoes available in the market isn't logical. Using that logic, there could only be one high-end product in any given product market, which we all know isn't true. High-end isn't synonymous with "king of the hill." Yes, there can only be one "best" but there can be many that are "better than most."
In a similar vein, saying that there can be many that are "better than most" is based on the principle of a Gaussian distribution. However, by saying that, I am using the assumption that the people in this discussion have a good understanding of the available options and can reasonably come to the same conclusion using abstract or theoretical thought. Under that assumption, it is reasonable to make such claims for purposes of illustration. However, the discussion remains abstract or theoretical because we haven't presented any scientifically derived data with which to make such claims. For statistics to have any teeth, it must first have dependable data as a foundation.
Here is where we insert Mark Twain's premise when he grouped statistics with "lies and damned lies." Using statistical jargon to make an argument sound more persuasive to those who are less informed amounts to employing proof by verbosity, or argument from authority. I think that it is reasonable to make claims about a subjective concept within a group of people who are on relatively equal footing in order to illustrate a point. Anything beyond that, however, is simply proving Twain's point. We can't make accurate claims using a Gaussian distribution, asserting how many standard deviations one shoe brand is from another, or even what the mean is, without hard objective data from which to calculate the distribution.
Statistics may have changed a lot since the mid-19th century, but I think that the reason many people's perception of it hasn't changed is because it is still used as a tool in rhetoric and for the purposes of bolstering an argument at the expense of the less informed individual in the argument. That will never change.
To me they're a bit more casual version of the Patriot. Both are penny loafers.
MWS dropping eloquent knowledge as always.
I embarrassingly realized that with all my recent travel, I forgot to email Allison and thank her. I also asked her about the new pattern. Here was here response:
Quote: Exciting that they may improve the pattern, and an excellent example of Allison's (and AE's in general) great customer support.
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