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Recommend me some shoe brands.

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by mendel, Sep 1, 2007.

  1. mendel

    mendel Senior member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I have two mostly unrelated shoe questions, so I'll put 'em both in here. Two for one!

    Shoes for me: I need more shoes for b-school -- business casual and business formal -- and since I'm a student my price range is low. (If I didn't know any better I'd be going to Aldo.) I know that I can find great deals on AE on eBay, and I may still do exactly that, but I find that the AE lasts are a bit too conservative. I think I like a bit more elongated toe and a bit flatter vamp. Shopping in Harry Rosen my eye is drawn more to Boss and Cole Haan than to AE on style alone.

    I know that Cole Haan is no AE, but I suspect both are still a good step up from Aldo. Please advise me on this matter, and on what other searches I should be doing on eBay to find good shoe deals on modern classic shoes.

    Shoes for Dad: For the last couple of decades my father has been a partner in a small clothing store in the only mall in Belleville, Ontario, a small city of 40,000 surrounded by rural areas. As Belleville goes the store is slightly upmarket but would probably be too downmarket for the typical SF-ie; suits in the $500-$1000 range, I think. Just above department store level, because there are no department stores in Belleville except Sears and Wal-Mart. S. Cohen and Jack Victor, a bit of Hugo Boss, that sort of thing.

    Anyhow, he's recently gained full ownership and is changing the store's attitude a bit -- getting rid of a lot of golf and casual and concentrating more on men's business attire. And as part of this he wants to start selling shoes, and he's not sure what to carry.

    AE at retail is too expensive for his customers. He's probably more looking at Bostonian, Florsheim, Rockport, Ecco, that sort of thing. $200 range tops. Keeping in mind that his customers are not StyleForum types but that he still wants a good value proposition for mature upscale-for-Belleville buyers, what makes do you think would suit his shop?
     
  2. horndog

    horndog Senior member

    Messages:
    996
    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2007
    Location:
    Pittsburgh
    Johnston & Murphy, Donald J Pliner, Mezlan should work.
     
  3. kitonbrioni

    kitonbrioni Senior member

    Messages:
    5,496
    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2004
    It seems that you have analyzed both your own needs and your father's store and come to a measured conclusion. The forums tend to be Edward Green devotees. Italians shoes would seem to be over your price point also. The forums have many a list of "best" shoes which are all going to be over $200. It seems that made in China is about your only option.
     
  4. southbound35

    southbound35 Senior member

    Messages:
    992
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    For your father's store, I'd say Cole Haan is a good bet in the $200 range. It's a brand that people are familiar with; those not particularly interested in style/fashion consider it an upscale brand. Their styles range from conservative to slightly fashion forward. Obviously the construction and leather quality aren't tops, but I think their shoes look good for the price.

    Out of curiosity, why is your father taking the store more in the business dress direction? As a person who prefers dressing this way, I applaud it. But, as a person who sees the overall market moving in a more casual direction, it seems somewhat counterintuitive.
     
  5. southbound35

    southbound35 Senior member

    Messages:
    992
    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2006
    Location:
    Dallas, TX
    Johnston & Murphy, Donald J Pliner, Mezlan should work.
    Just my opinion, but J&M kind of reminds me of a lesser quality Allen Edmonds (similar inelegant lasts without the good construction). Some Pliner shoes are OK, but overall might be a bit fashion forward for what it sounds like your father's store is. I've never been a fan of Mezlan. All that said, based on what you said about your father's clientele, I think J&M and Cole Haan might be the most viable options. If you think your fathers customers might consider paying closer to $300, I think Magnanni makes some good-looking shoes. But, at that price point, you can buy better-constructed AE's.
     
  6. mendel

    mendel Senior member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    Out of curiosity, why is your father taking the store more in the business dress direction? As a person who prefers dressing this way, I applaud it. But, as a person who sees the overall market moving in a more casual direction, it seems somewhat counterintuitive.
    I can't speak for him, but from what I know: It's already his niche and there isn't much competition there -- just the right market for a small business like that. In the lower end he's up against Moore's, Jack Fraser, Wal-Mart, Sears and so on. But for the people that do need something a step up from those, the main alternative to his shop is a 45-minute drive to Kingston or a 1.5-hour drive to Toronto. It helps that he's well-known in the area through years at the Chamber of Commerce, a strong "buy locally-owned" campaign in the last few years, and recently a city council seat. And of course he can provide a great deal better service than his closest competitors. It doesn't hurt that the store has been open in one incarnation or another since that mall opened in 1974, either. I should really point this place out to him. He's not so much an Internet person, though, although I've recently got him blogging! Thanks for the shoe advice (everyone) -- I figured I was on the right track but I'm never sure what I'm missing.
     
  7. meister

    meister Senior member

    Messages:
    7,323
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    I have two mostly unrelated shoe questions, so I'll put 'em both in here. Two for one!

    Shoes for me: I need more shoes for b-school -- business casual and business formal -- and since I'm a student my price range is low. (If I didn't know any better I'd be going to Aldo.) I know that I can find great deals on AE on eBay, and I may still do exactly that, but I find that the AE lasts are a bit too conservative. I think I like a bit more elongated toe and a bit flatter vamp. Shopping in Harry Rosen my eye is drawn more to Boss and Cole Haan than to AE on style alone.

    I know that Cole Haan is no AE, but I suspect both are still a good step up from Aldo. Please advise me on this matter, and on what other searches I should be doing on eBay to find good shoe deals on modern classic shoes.

    Shoes for Dad: For the last couple of decades my father has been a partner in a small clothing store in the only mall in Belleville, Ontario, a small city of 40,000 surrounded by rural areas. As Belleville goes the store is slightly upmarket but would probably be too downmarket for the typical SF-ie; suits in the $500-$1000 range, I think. Just above department store level, because there are no department stores in Belleville except Sears and Wal-Mart. S. Cohen and Jack Victor, a bit of Hugo Boss, that sort of thing.

    Anyhow, he's recently gained full ownership and is changing the store's attitude a bit -- getting rid of a lot of golf and casual and concentrating more on men's business attire. And as part of this he wants to start selling shoes, and he's not sure what to carry.

    AE at retail is too expensive for his customers. He's probably more looking at Bostonian, Florsheim, Rockport, Ecco, that sort of thing. $200 range tops. Keeping in mind that his customers are not StyleForum types but that he still wants a good value proposition for mature upscale-for-Belleville buyers, what makes do you think would suit his shop?


    I don't want to appear presumptious but re Dad there is an old saying "don't stuff with perfection"...
     
  8. RIDER

    RIDER Senior member

    Messages:
    1,357
    Joined:
    Jan 6, 2004
    Location:
    RVA - NYC
    In regards to your shop needs, I am sure you father knows that a US stock program is virtually useless for his needs. It makes no difference what is available here at that price point, it only matters if they have a Canadian distribution system. To buy from US stock, you are already loosing 5% on the exchange and will have to pay the 18% Canadian duty + freight and Customs charges....means you are paying duty/fees twice, as it has already been built into the wholesale prices here. Considering the typical maintained margin in mens footwear is a good 25% below tailored clothing (he will know his numbers), it's a loser for a small shop. As you can guess, most Canadian retailers buy ex-fact and only buy from a US stock program for specials or an emergency small fill-in.

    Your best option is Florsheim....they eliminated the 3rd party distributor this year and have taken over Canada in-house and are doing very well at it. At the price point you want to hit, and the brand recognition of Florsheim there, they would be idea, IMO. For casual shoes, I have no idea.....I assume Rockport has a distributor there as well.

    For yourself, stick with the Buying/Selling forum here.....best deals around if you see your size. Any examples of what you like?
     
  9. atroopan

    atroopan Senior member

    Messages:
    233
    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2006
    Location:
    Toronto
    I've been to Belleville many times (a bud went to Loyalist and we had to party it up there) - are you sure the average mature customer there has the kind of money or the desire to spend even $200 on shoes. I would think seeing Cole Haan would be the holy grail there no ? But my guess is the crowd would value comfort over 'styling' per se, so Ecco might go well there too. Been seeing a lot of Geox in Toronto lately too.

    Lots of industrial plants in the area though so I'm not sure what the tastes run to for evening or weekend shoe wear after wearing safety boots during the week. Methinks the shoes will be mostly 'special occasion' wear, but then I'm a pretty stereotypical bastard - whado i know? [​IMG]

    good luck with the bus degree,
    troop
     
  10. Alistair

    Alistair Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    49
    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2007
    Location:
    New England
    These Moreschi Cordenos are probably a lot closer to what you are looking for. STP is selling them now that they've been discontinued. I bought them in the dark tan color in June when Moreschi was still closing them out at their online store. I may yet buy them in black, too. They are a simple, cap-toe blucher, but decidedly sleeker than anything AE makes, and actually look even more streamlined in reality than in the picture.
     
  11. meister

    meister Senior member

    Messages:
    7,323
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    These Moreschi Cordenos are probably a lot closer to what you are looking for. STP is selling them now that they've been discontinued. I bought them in the dark tan color in June when Moreschi was still closing them out at their online store. I may yet buy them in black, too.

    They are a simple, cap-toe blucher, but decidedly sleeker than anything AE makes, and actually look even more streamlined in reality than in the picture.


    Thay are smooth and Moreschis is a a top shoes IMHO from what I have seen of them in Sydney.
     
  12. mendel

    mendel Senior member

    Messages:
    230
    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2006
    Location:
    Ottawa, Ontario
    I've been to Belleville many times (a bud went to Loyalist and we had to party it up there) - are you sure the average mature customer there has the kind of money or the desire to spend even $200 on shoes.

    One advantage of a proprietorship-sized business is that you get a bit more flexibility for choosing markets. Dad's not looking for growth; he and his partner tried expanding into more Eastern Ontario and Golden Horseshoe cities in the late 80s or early 90s and while they saw some success it wasn't the sort of business they wanted to run.

    And once you're not looking for that kind of growth -- you've got one store, and you want that store to be profitable, but you don't need to finance expansion -- then finding a niche can fill that role well. You're right that there isn't a huge demand for that sort of "high"-end thing in Belleville, but that doesn't mean that there isn't enough demand to satisfy a single shop. But it does mean that the city would probably stay under the radar of the chains.

    For example, I think Belleville could certainly support a Gap or an Eddie Bauer. They aren't there yet, but were Dad to go after that sort of customer he'd be in trouble if one did open. On the other hand the chains and department stores that would overlap with his lines probably wouldn't find Belleville worth their attention.

    So by aiming a bit higher-end and providing the sort of one-on-one service that people enjoy from smaller towns' shops he's able to get the people that do value that -- politicians, civil servants, doctors, lawyers, realtors, bankers, and so on, plus the crowd that has been fleeing Toronto for Belleville and Prince Edward County -- so he's built up (and will continue to build!) a dedicated customer base that isn't huge but is big enough to keep the store busy.

    You're right, there -- Moore's and Sears and Wal-Mart. It'd be crazy to try to get business away from those, although he does dip down into their top-end range a bit, mostly for weddings and graduation and so on. (Making sure he's prepared to take care of his regulars when they come in with their sons for a grade 8 or high-school graduation suit has been an effective strategy!)

    Oh, and it never occurred to me that there'd be people here that knew Belleville, so I didn't mention the store: it's Crossings (and formerly Carson's Men's Wear) in the Quinte Mall.
     
  13. mishon

    mishon Senior member

    Messages:
    1,121
    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2007
    Location:
    D.C.
    I agree with Horndog, although I don't like the quality of J&M.

    I also think that AE look too conservative hence, your your best choice for the price is Mezlan. I own a few pairs and they look nice and are of very good quality. Cole Haan looks and feels cheap in comparison. Pliner makes quality shoes but some are a bit too eclectic for my taste although the pair I own (Monty, expresso color) is phenomenal.

    If you shop on Ebay, you may get a great deal on Ferragamo and Bruno Magli. -M-
     

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