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New to SF and AE shoes

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by arbrook, Apr 16, 2016.

  1. arbrook

    arbrook New Member

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    Hi everyone,

    I'm new here to SF. My goal here is to learn about choosing and caring for quality dress shoes. A little about me: I'm a young adult employed at a very visible, major financial institution in a wealthy area of the city. I handle my clients finances, so I have to appear to them as trustworthy, and my appearance plays a major part (as you guys already know). I think people would see me as having tasteful style, that is without looking at my shoes. My shoe game needs work. I typically buy my dress shoes from Aldo, or from another fast-fashion style brand like Steve Madden. I like the modern design of Aldo's shoes, but after a week or two of wearing them, they look like sh**!!! Yesterday at work I said, I've had enough after my new oxfords from Aldo had the paint chipping off. So today, I headed to Nordstrom Rack and DSW to see if I could find a more expensive brand at a discounted rate. Thing is up until this afternoon, I wasn't sure what made a shoe good quality, so I thought Cole Haan would be something to look for.

    Trying to learn from my repeated mistakes, whenever I had seen a shoe I liked (Ted Baker, Johnston and Murphy, Cole Haan, etc), I Googled for information on whether the brand would be sh** like Aldo or Steve Madden, and SF continued to pop up as a top link, and time and time again I had seen these mass-appeal brands to be horrible quality. I settled on a pair of Cole Haan oxfords as the reviews seemed to be marginally better than the other brands, but then I had read that Allen Edmonds were way better quality, "whatever those are". My last stop was to the full-service Nordstrom store to check these "AE's" out, and I could immediately tell the difference in quality in my hand, but they all had tags for $395+, so I quickly left without trying them on. [​IMG]

    I returned home this evening and pondered whether I should just invest in a quality pair of dress shoes. So I came back on SF and read, and read some more. I can proudly say, now I know the difference between corrected grain and full grain leathers. And why stitched shoes are better than glued. I decided that I would return the Cole Haan's tomorrow and make an investment in a pair of leather soled, stitched, full grained leather dress shoes!

    Just browsing, I found AE Riverside Derbys on Nordstrom Rack this evening for $209 and I swiped them quickly as only two pair in my size were left! I figured that the deal was too good to pass up, and that I can always return them should they not fit, etc.

    Honestly, I am a little shocked I've spent so much on a pair of shoes, but I'm bearing in mind that I get what I pay for and that the investment will be worth it. I'm also remembering that the shoes are $400 that came with a discount of $185! I'm excited nonetheless. I never, ever thought I would be excited for a pair of shoes -- I can't wait for them to come!

    Question: how do I care for my new investment to ensure they age gracefully. I bought some expandable shoe trees and a shoe horn this evening. Should I buy polish? I'm sure there are many threads that can give me some insight, but I'm still learning to navigate the forum, so could someone point me in the right direction? Any advice or information to offer?!

    Thank you for all the help so far! I'm glad to be here!
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
    1 person likes this.
  2. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    1 person likes this.
  3. Shawl Lapel

    Shawl Lapel Senior member

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    Good on you for doing your research. Just be careful on here or you'll fall down the rabbit hole and be jumping into a G&G GMTO in no time :nodding:
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. starro

    starro Senior member

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    So you're in finance, work in a "wealthy" part of "the city", and you balk at AE retail prices. A realignment definitely needs to take place in your value system before you advance to the next level.


    An FYI, most AEs sold at Nordstrom Rack are factory SECONDS, so Rack pricepoints are no bargain (might even be a bit high). Sorry to pour cold water on your sartorial enthusiasm (which we all applaud!) and all, but we all learn in life...
     
  5. starro

    starro Senior member

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    Ok, i just got down to your question, I'll try to be as helpful and succinct as I can.

    You need to care properly for both the uppers and the outsole (heel included). Outsole care includes resoling/reheeling after significant wear, topying, toe/heel caps etc. i.e. all the stuff that would be within a cobbler's purview.

    Caring for the leather uppers is something you could do unaided. Assuming full grain leather, the 3 components of caring for the uppers are cleaning, conditioning, and sealing. Unless you trudge daily through mud and manure, cleaning can be done once every 6 months - 1 year, conditioning once 2-3 months, waxing every 2-4 weeks. Of course everything depends on how heavily you use the shoes.

    Besides those crucial things are the basics. Always shoe trees when foot not in shoes. Well-fitting shoes don't leave a lot of space in the opening, so using shoe horns is a good idea. You can put shoes in shoe bags when you are not wearing them for a long period of time.

    just some basics. Hope they help, and good luck!
     
  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I'm going to argue with this point. A lot of us love our expensive shoes, but we know a lot about them, but it is, at its fundaments, a hobby, an interest in common.

    I don't think that we need to impose our values on other people's comfort levels with different prices. Just a little reminder that not everyone has the same level of interest.
     
    2 people like this.
  7. starro

    starro Senior member

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    Everyone is entitled to his own values. All values are equally valid. 100% agreement here. I was just trying to point out an inconsistency in OP's value system.

    1. He works in an client-facing job, where the clientele is presumably discerning concerning matters sartorial (or at least more so than the general population).
    2. OP cares about his job, wants to do well and advance. He acknowledges presentation is key in his line of work.
    3. Presumably OP does well for himself, financially speaking, given he works for a major financial inst. in big city, and he is front-office and deals directly with HNWI.
    4. Inconsistency arises where OP appears squeamish to invest what many here believe to be the bare minimum amount for a quality (read: presentable) pair of dress shoes--shoes which, when done tastefully, will be registered by his clientele and when done poorly will hurt his chances with the same crowd.

    This is not a criticism of the OP or anyone like him. We've all been in similar situations and made similar calls.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  8. Cj52racers

    Cj52racers Senior member

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    Just so everyone is clear here, this isn't entirely true. I would argue that it is not MOST that are factory seconds. I've notice maybe a 50/50 split at most in NR's all across the country, so it isn't a small sample size.

    Also, seconds are easily discernible from first quality so it isn't really an issue.

    This burned in mark on the sole is the denotion of a second.
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  9. starro

    starro Senior member

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    They are your experiences of the brick-and-mortor NR stores, whereas it's pretty clear OP bought his AEs from NR online. So this rules out your trick for telling firsts from seconds (not that that's not useful information, don't get me wrong). Also just for curiosity sake, I'm interested in how you were able to collect such a large sample of NR AE offerings across the country.


    According to who? For shiggs I've dug up these people who don't quite find it so easy to tell them apart, or at least not on first sight.
    http://www.styleforum.net/t/338814/...-shoes-or-ae-shoes-from-nordstrom-s-rack/0_20
    http://www.askandyaboutclothes.com/forum/showthread.php?113931-Allen-Edmonds-seconds
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  10. Cj52racers

    Cj52racers Senior member

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    I buy/sell/accept consignment for a living and travel a lot meeting clients and buying product. In the past year I've been to probably a dozen NR's in Indy, Chicago, LA, SF, etc. as at times prices are low enough for resale. I didn't notice that he bought them online, but in person they're generally not too difficult to differentiate.

    Also, both of those threads show the sole mark and that it isn't difficult to tell a second apart from a first quality.

    Nordstrom Rack has two avenues of receiving product. They have a separate buying team from regular Nordstroms that purchases product for NR's. The other portion of product is overstock/out of season/returned/altered products from mainline stores. I don't know the percentages of these categories that are in stores, but that's why stores have both first and second quality shoes even in the same NR (not implying you didn't know this, just general info for anyone interested).
     
  11. starro

    starro Senior member

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    Cool stuff to know, thanks! So does NR mix the firsts and seconds together on their shelves? If so, that would be borderline duplicitous, because Id bet 99% of the buying public would not be able to tell the difference and they'd walk away thinking they got a good deal, when they possibly didn't. Also, what's their pricing strategy wrt selling both categories?
     
  12. Cj52racers

    Cj52racers Senior member

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    Yeah, from what I've seen it is pretty random. Prices are also all across the board. Honestly, pricing is pretty random in those stores period.
     
    1 person likes this.
  13. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    I agree with this. I have known some very well off people who never pay more than $100 for a pair of shoes. It's all in the context. That said, congrats to the OP on taking the plunge. Your AEs will last you far longer than any Aldos. And when they do start to wear out, guess what, you can have AE re-craft them for much less than the price of new shoes.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  14. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    Don't be mean. Not everyone is from an well endowed family and knows about luxury or high quality shoes when they are young.

    Besides, high priced shoes are more of a hobby than practical "investments".
     
  15. starro

    starro Senior member

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    Please read the entirety of what I wrote and I'll be happy to respond to any specific disagreements.

    (Just wondering aloud to myself here: Since when do people have such thin skins? OP wanted to get into the details of his background, and why quality shoes are significant for his situation. That's where his advice-seeking springs from. How we got sidetracked into this whole metaphysical quandary about what shoes mean to a person I can't figure out. Maybe people are reading their own thoughts and feelings into the OP's posts rather than engaging critically? I don't know...)



    Whoa! Easy Nellie! How did you know my last name was Berle? [​IMG]
     
  16. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    I don't think anyone was being sensitive except for, perhaps, you. Alternative opinions were simply being expressed, for the most part. Nothing wrong with that.
     
  17. chogall

    chogall Senior member

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    I thought u would say LB James.
     
  18. starro

    starro Senior member

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    If you're gonna start name calling, then I'm just going to leave this thread. If you actually mean what you say, I will continue.

    I'm gonna focus on your underlined portion. If you can, take a minute and read the whole thread from beginning to end, with a fresh perspective, and see where the negativity creeps in, negativity which gets in the way of constructive comments. Is it me who is acting defensive about stepping on some imaginary toes? Have I not said that everyone's entitled to their values and opinions, and no one's are more valid than another's? Have I not been trying to discuss specific points raised in the OP, and in the subsequent posts which were addressed to me? Call me a busybody all you want, but I was brought up to show respect to people by critically and thoughtfully responding to comments that are addressed to me. But to each his own...

    What I initially asked of you still stands. If you have a difference of opinion with a specfic point I raised, I'm happy to discuss (in fact I consider it a duty of courtesy). But if you're gonna cherry pick, distort, and impute shady motives to my remarks, leave me out of it, please.
     
  19. starro

    starro Senior member

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    The number of jokes and anecdotes surrounding his member cannot be comparable to the legend of Milton Berle's ____.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2016
  20. Caustic Man

    Caustic Man Senior member

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    Name calling? Talk about sensitive. [​IMG]
     

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