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Fighting the Terrorists: Considering an All-Alden Shoe Collection

TheFoo

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Well, the euro-dollar exchange rate is a real downer. I love my shirts and suits from Naples, but something's got to give. I've already resorted to Brooks Brothers for more affordable shirts. But what about shoes? At the moment, my nicest pairs are from John Lobb Paris; they've been really great, but I can't say I'm satisfied with the value I'm getting.

Of course, there are other awesome RTW shoes that are less expensive: Vass, Edward Green, G&G, etc. But they're still around the $1k mark. Psychologically, that's a significant barrier for me. In comparison, I can get a pair of calfskin Aldens for less than $400. My one pair of Plaza-last Aldens have aged very well--with the exception of excessive lateral creasing, but I hope that isn't a consistent issue. I could get four pairs for the same price I paid for the single pair of Philip IIs I just bought. Eye-opening.

But, what would I be missing out on if I went all-Alden? The leather is not as fine as the European makers', but still patina-worthy. Construction is sturdy, if not pretty. These are not serious issues to me. The big issue is the clunkiness.

Now, to an extent I like how clunky they are. There's a certain charm to it, and I would order all my shoes on the Plaza last, which helps a little. But still, when I look at my John Lobbs, I can't help but swoon a little for their elegant sleekness.

What's a guy to do? Dig deeper into my empty wallet, or be a patriot?

Thoughts?
 

edmorel

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Other than the Chukka, there is no Alden shoe I'd buy. I own a chunky wingtip that LeatherSoul did, which is my bad weather shoe, but that was a one time loss of mind. I don't really like EG or G&G, so I can't speak to liking one over the other. Price not being an issue, can't see why anyone would go the Alden route over Vass or Lobb. I know it's cool among the cognesti in Italy and Japan to wear Alden's, but I can't wear any of their shoes with anything but a casual outfit.
 

dopey

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Originally Posted by mafoofan
Well, the euro-dollar exchange rate is a real downer. I love my shirts and suits from Naples, but something's got to give. I've already resorted to Brooks Brothers for more affordable shirts. But what about shoes? At the moment, my nicest pairs are from John Lobb Paris; they've been really great, but I can't say I'm satisfied with the value I'm getting.

Of course, there are other awesome RTW shoes that are less expensive: Vass, Edward Green, G&G, etc. But they're still around the $1k mark. Psychologically, that's a significant barrier for me. In comparison, I can get a pair of calfskin Aldens for less than $400. My one pair of Plaza-last Aldens have aged very well--with the exception of excessive lateral creasing, but I hope that isn't a consistent issue. I could get four pairs for the same price I paid for the single pair of Philip IIs I just bought. Eye-opening.

But, what would I be missing out on if I went all-Alden? The leather is not as fine as the European makers', but still patina-worthy. Construction is sturdy, if not pretty. These are not serious issues to me. The big issue is the clunkiness.

Now, to an extent I like how clunky they are. There's a certain charm to it, and I would order all my shoes on the Plaza last, which helps a little. But still, when I look at my John Lobbs, I can't help but swoon a little for their elegant sleekness.

What's a guy to do? Dig deeper into my empty wallet, or be a patriot?

Thoughts?

Most of my go to shoes are now either Alden or bespoke, though in my case I have been driven there by fit rather than patriotism.
The difference between Alden and the other makes you mentioned is only in your mind, since the overall impression made on your colleagues will be the same. They won't notice. That is not to say there is no difference, but only that the difference is something that you can judge based only on your own desires and values.
If you do go with Alden, you might feel better if you play to their strengths, like a pair of plain toes bluchers in no. 8 shell, longwings in the same or scotchhgrain, bluchers in no. 8. Maybe black shell cap toes, etc. They do those very well, perhaps better than others. That way, you will feel like you are getting something with real design integrity and are not just compromising based on cost. And if you have to, get a par of EG or Lobb plain black cap toes, too.
 

TheFoo

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Originally Posted by edmorel
Price not being an issue, can't see why anyone would go the Alden route over Vass or Lobb.

Originally Posted by dopey
If you do go with Alden, you might feel better if you play to their strengths, like a pair of plain toes bluchers in no. 8 shell, longwings in the same or scotchhgrain, bluchers in no. 8. Maybe black shell cap toes, etc. They do those very well, perhaps better than others. That way, you will feel like you are getting something with real design integrity and are not just compromising based on cost.

Well, I already have a Plaza-lasted pair of #8 cordovan longwings coming in within a couple of months. So I'm all for playing to strengths. The only issue is whether I can get them to do a narrower heel.
 

Jumbie

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My vote is against the clunkiness. I don't own any of the nicer shoes I've seen on these boards but I don't know how you could go from Lobbs or any of the "cheaper" brands you mentioned to Aldens.

When I first started on these boards, I did what I've heard several people mention - go on a bit of a rapid wardrobe expansion; something that I now regret as my tastes are evolving. One of those regrets is buying a few pairs of AEs. They're sturdy shoes but, as you described the Aldens, they are, for the most part, clunky...

I managed to snag a pair of Santonis on eBay (the Darren). Not as well constructed but much more sleek in appearance. I cringe sometimes when I look at the AEs (although I did buy a used Chester that's pretty decent and some of their models like the Soho and Evanston look good).

In the end, it's up to you but I'd personally dig a little deeper. Which reminds me that I was a bit surprised to see you mentioning that. I was always under the impression that money wasn't really a concern.
 

robin

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Originally Posted by mafoofan
The only issue is whether I can get them to do a narrower heel.
Do you mean like a closed heel?

Anyways, I don't see why Alden needs to make sleek shoes like their European competitors. It's not a part of their history, is not really "New England-y", and American shoes were never much sleek to begin with. If you need something with a bit more style for your suits without breaking the bank, just order some C&J's.
 

Big A

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Don't do it!
 

sartort

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no offense to the alden fans on this board, but I find them a bit too staid. even more so, I don't feel they would go quite as well with your nicely wardrobe. a pair here and there sure, but an all alden rotation...no. my suggestion would be to try crockett & jones. if you are really concerned about the money, grab a pair polo branded c&js or ralph lauren branded edward greens on sale. in my opinion though c&j at the <$500 level is the real sweet spot. the handgrade collection on the 337 boasts a pretty sleek last without going overboard and is a nicely finished shoe with pretty good leathers. lastly, if i can afford to build a rotation of 4 rlpl/egs, 2 polo/c&js and 1 barker black, anyone can, especially you. i know how many am shirts you've ordered.
 

acidboy

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Last month, I entered the Alden shop in SF, ready to purchase a pair of bluchers on the plaza last. That was just after entering Wilkes-Bashford and Saks, looking at the JLs, Heschungs, and JM Westons. After having unintended points of comparison, I found that the Aldens are kind of "clunky" and, yeah, unpretty for my taste. I'm still unsure up until now about getting a pair of Aldens, specially since the ones on Leathersoul's page seems very very nice. But I'm keeping my options open. To answer Mafoo's question- I'd dig deeper, than settle for something I feel is a compromise. Oh, and buying JLs and other British brands is also a stand against terrorism.... JM Weston and Corthay on the other hand.....
 

nmprisons

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I enjoy my one pair of Aldens and think, for the price, they were a good deal.

Nevertheless, for a similar price you can get C&J through PLAL or at the T&A sales. I think my C&J handgrades are a clear step above in both quality and in attractiveness. One was cheaper than my Aldens (sale) and one was similar in price (PLAL). I still plan on buying a wingtip boot from Alden at some point. But, my other purchases will be limited to C&J, Vass, Allen Edmonds on ebay, and perhaps a few others.

I just can't get by Alden's clunkiness in most of their shoes (their loafers seem reasonably attractive, but I hate loafers).
 

Tarmac

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your reasoning mentioned value, and I actually don't feel that alden is a good value any more at their new $385 minimum. I would only consider paying retail for one of their few iconic styles in shell, but there is almost no need to when you can just wait for the next brooks bros sale.

I think vass and EG are both better values, even at 1k

I also think CJ is a better value, both hand and benchgrade through the usual online sources. And I fully believe I could make an all CJ lineup. They make 12 or 15 different models I want.
 

JohnnyCrockett

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I agree the C&J is that place to land if one wants sleekness. Benchgrade C&Js, which can be had any day of the week for ~$380 after shipping from PLAL or Pediwear matching PLAL prices are an incredible deal, and significantly more sleek than any shoe Alden has ever made. That said, Alden is excellent at producing a few styles: -- Leisure Handsewn (if that's your thing) -- Tassel Loafer (the "original", the archetype) -- The flat strap loafer -- The apron-front Norwegian split toe blucher in shell -- The long wing -- The full brogue oxford with metal eyelets in shell -- The saddle shoe in shell -- The plain toe blutcher in shell -- All those crazy shell commando boots with full broguing that Leather Soul produces What's more, Alden's leather soles hold up INCREDIBLY well. I have EG, C&J, JMW, and my Alden soles have held up better (read: same wear in twice the time) than those other shoes, and I wear my Aldens most frequently. I also think Dopey's point is brilliant. To EVERYONE outside of SF and a few other Internet message boards, Aldens look very sleek (excluding a few deliberately clunky styles, like the long wing), compared to the duck-billed rubber-soled plastic shoes everyone else wears. Seriously, I have never seen anyone other than me in the US wearing C&J, EG, JMW, Lobb, and I spend 100% of my time in NYC and San Francisco. In Europe you do see the sleeker European shoes, but in Germany-Switzerland-Austria, there is a real shell Alden fetish anyway! Don't expect the Jermyn II from Alden and I think you'll be very pleased.
 

philosophe

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Like others here, I find the Aldens chunky and clunky. They're nicely made, but the designs are too conservative for me. Are you considering changing your overall shoe aesthetic?

Short of Lobbs and the like, I'd vote for C&J or Ferragamo Tramezzas on sale. I have four pairs of Tramezzas and have paid $250-350 for each one.

Another possibility might be to contact Ron Rider.
 

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