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Shoe Abuse/Question

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by The Devil's Hands, Oct 4, 2006.

  1. The Devil's Hands

    The Devil's Hands Senior Member

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    I've been a long time lurker at AAAC and here. I'd like to post that I have recently had success renovating a pair of weejuns that I've had since high school and took really poor care of. So I will. I have read about the plastic-y veneer being a problem with these particular shoes in these fora, so I went out and got some industrial acetone, and some sponges, and brought them home with sinister intent. Here is the procedure I used: Initial conditions: 1 pair of burgundy Bass Weejuns, which had been through a Boston rainstorm a day earlier. I had polished them (with synovia cordovan) for the first time in my 7 years of owning them about a week prior to taking them out in the storm. The previous day, the shoes were wet enough to soak through to my socks. NOTE: As I was making a social call, I had only brought 2 pairs of shoes, and I'll be damned if I'm wearing my TX handmade ostrich boots on a grimy day. The weejuns had to take one for the team. These shoes have a pair of nordstrom trees in them throughout the process. 1) Cleaned any visible dirt off with a mixture of approximately 10 water: 1 90% IPA sprayed onto a flimsy kitchen rag. 2) Soaked half the sponge in acetone, and went over the shoe a couple times, scrubbing lightly until most of the acetone evaporated. Repeated twice (as in, 3 coats of acetone) 3) Let shoes rest 15' 4) poured some acetone directly on the upper so that the upper was entirely covered in a thin film. 5) Using the same sponge, which at this point has a lot of the polish and some of the dye on it, spread the acetone around until it thins. Noticed a small amount of acetone had leaked through the seams into the shoe trees. 6) Sat the shoes out in the den for a day. They looked dull. 7) applied Synovia waxless leather care conditioner (I'm not trying to shill; synovia is just what they sell at Nordstrom in Providence), spreading with a new sponge. 8) let shoes sit for 15' 9) Polished shoes. Used overly moistened sponge to apply the polish. A rookie mistake, that. A little water goes a long way, y'all. Results: The shoes look way better. I mean, WAY better. Some of the areas that got more acetone/light scrubbing became slightly more pink than the original burgundy. This gives them a look similar to a faded denim that puts a big dent in your wallet, except much more subtle. Where there were creases along some of the seams, the acetone worked along the creases to give a sort of whisker fade. It's only noticeable if you're looking for it. One of the sides got a little too light in patches, though, so it's not all peaches and cream. That goofy plastic sheen is completely gone, replaced with the interplay of the subtle color differences, and the depth of the polish. The uppers around the seams above the toe still don't look all that great, but you have to be staring to notice. It's because of neglect. I solemnly swear not to neglect any more shoes. I recommend this treatment for new weejuns, because it makes the shoe look about $100 more expensive. Don't use as much acetone as I did (skip step 4, and 2 coats should do in step 3). I now have some decent casual shoes. I need to find some gold doubloons to put in them though. This leads me to my dress shoe question: I am trying to choose between 2 pairs of nice dress shoes: 1) [​IMG] The A-E park avenue, $275 at this weekend's trunk show on Newbury street -OR- 2) [​IMG] The Alden ... 2160?, $489 at the Tannery on Boylston St. I've held and tried on both shoes. The PA is a solid utility shoe with no real drawbacks, but it's nothing particularly special, either. This is high praise, for these shoes are much nicer than any dress shoes I currently own (the boots are in a class by themselves). The Aldens...they are "nice shoes" like the Whiskey Rebellion was "thwarted." They are very heavy, which I don't mind, because I don't plan on running any fly routes in them. They seem to be built not like buildings, but like the things that build buildings. My question is, do you think that it's worth eating spam for three months to own an authentic American cordovan, or should I go for a perfectly acceptible alternative in calfskin, and celebrate with a filet and a bordeaux?
     


  2. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Stylish Dinosaur Dubiously Honored

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    Depends on what you're planning to wear them with. If you're talking suits, I'd go with the AE, particularly if you have a limited shoe wardrobe. The AE is much more elegant and graceful than the Alden, which I think would look better with more casual clothing.
     


  3. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Stylish Dinosaur

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    Depends on what you're planning to wear them with. If you're talking suits, I'd go with the AE, particularly if you have a limited shoe wardrobe. The AE is much more elegant and graceful than the Alden, which I think would look better with more casual clothing.

    Personally I like the look of the PA better than the Alden. I own both but find myself wearing AEs in many circumstances, even over more expensive shoes.
     


  4. The Devil's Hands

    The Devil's Hands Senior Member

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    Depends on what you're planning to wear them with. If you're talking suits, I'd go with the AE, particularly if you have a limited shoe wardrobe. The AE is much more elegant and graceful than the Alden, which I think would look better with more casual clothing.
    That's the thing...I want something versatile. It seems that the PA is the favorite shoe at AAAC and here, so I have no problem with picking one up.

    I plan on wearing these shoes to work, and in town; casual, dress, you name it.

    The weird thing is, of AE's dress oxfords, only the Leeds is offered in horsehide. It costs $100 extra to have a cap put on. Is cordovan worth the premium?

    Would you get $500 cordovan PAs?
     


  5. JBZ

    JBZ Distinguished Member

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    I think it depends on how much you like shell cordovan. I agree with the above posters that the PA is probably a better choice with suits (if for no other reason than it is a bal instead of a blucher, although I wear bluchers with suits all the time). On the other hand, the Alden probably provides you with more versatility.

    However, just about any Alden model you can get in shell cordovan you can also get in calfskin (and Alden carries bals similar to the PA in both calfskin and shell cordovan). To my knowledge, the only difference between the calfskin and shell cordovan models is the material. Thus, if you're purchasing a shell cordovan Alden, you're doing it because you love the material, not because you're getting a better constructed shoe.

    I personally love shell and will spend the extra money to get it (though is seems to be getting more and more expensive each year - the Brooks Bros shell cordovan Alden models now retail for over $500). I think it has a much "deeper," richer look than calfskin, and it is certainly more durable and requires less maintenance. However, if you're indifferent to it, you'll do just as well with the PA or with any number of Alden calfskin models. You'll still be buying a great shoe.
     


  6. The Devil's Hands

    The Devil's Hands Senior Member

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    ...However, just about any Alden model you can get in shell cordovan you can also get in calfskin (and Alden carries bals similar to the PA in both calfskin and shell cordovan)...

    Ok, I admit that I posted the wrong shoe, but it was late.

    I wanted the Oxford and not the Blucher; basically Alden's cordovan take on the PA. One thing I noticed about them (the cordovan) is that the soles are about twice as thick. Folks in these forums generally don't like Aldens because their lasts are shorter (please correct me if y'all disagree), causing that 'gunboat' look.

    I don't own any horsehide, but I do own some ostrich. It is beyond words awesome when it comes to fit and feel, but it is too flashy to sport in anything other than black.

    You are saying that you think horsehide is worth the 70% markup because of looks and durability. Do you find that it molds and wears better than calfskin too?

    Regarding BB Aldens, I recall a previous thread saying that they are inferior to shoe store Aldens because the BB ones are built to spec, and something about the lining failing.
     


  7. JBZ

    JBZ Distinguished Member

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    Ok, I admit that I posted the wrong shoe, but it was late.

    I wanted the Oxford and not the Blucher; basically Alden's cordovan take on the PA. One thing I noticed about them (the cordovan) is that the soles are about twice as thick. Folks in these forums generally don't like Aldens because their lasts are shorter (please correct me if y'all disagree), causing that 'gunboat' look.

    I don't own any horsehide, but I do own some ostrich. It is beyond words awesome when it comes to fit and feel, but it is too flashy to sport in anything other than black.

    You are saying that you think horsehide is worth the 70% markup because of looks and durability. Do you find that it molds and wears better than calfskin too?

    Regarding BB Aldens, I recall a previous thread saying that they are inferior to shoe store Aldens because the BB ones are built to spec, and something about the lining failing.


    You will often see shell cordovan shoes with double soles because the leather is more substantial. The double sole is used to balance this out. However, some cordovan models go without the double sole.

    I think there is some aversion to Alden in these forums due to a perceived "clunkiness" or lack of "elegance." I've always argued that this is in the eye of the beholder. However, there is no doubt that the Alden aesthetic is different from that of Edward Green, John Lobb Paris, Crockett & Jones, Grenson, or some of the other brands often discussed here. It is certainly far different than many of the Italian brands often touted here. That said, I love the look of my Aldens. They aren't as sleek as some of the other brands mentioned above, but I appreciate the aesthetic and think they look great. Also, some of the higher end brands often discussed here are better made, but I've been wearing Aldens for years and have yet to have any major problems from a construction standpoint. I'm wearing this pair as I type this (Alden Fan 9 in Color 8 (i.e. burgundy) shell from Alden of Carmel):

    [​IMG]

    I don't know if shell cordovan molds to your feet better than calfskin. I would say that my experience has been the opposite. There is generally less give in shell cordovan, so you want to make sure that your shoes fit comfortably from the beginning. Sometimes, you can get away with a bit of discomfort with calfskin when you first buy, because the shoes will stretch over time and become more comfortable. I've found this to be less likely with shell.

    I have two pairs of BB Aldens. Both are the leisure handsewn moc in shell (one black, one burgundy). Unlike the Alden model of the same shoe, they are unlined. This gives them a softer feel. These are the only BB Aldens that come unlined. Some (I think on AA's trad forum) have said they've noticed that the unlined shoes have "collapsed" over time (i.e lost their form, I guess). I've had the black pair for about 7 years now, and this has not been my experience. That said, you can get the regular Aldens for quite a bit less than the BB models without sacrificing any quality.

    Again, I think it comes down to how you feel about shell. I love it. You have to decide whether it's worth the extra money to you.
     


  8. Joel_Cairo

    Joel_Cairo Distinguished Member

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    [​IMG]
    The A-E park avenue, $275 at this weekend's trunk show on Newbury street


    FWIW, you can get new PAs for half this price on ebay.
     


  9. The Devil's Hands

    The Devil's Hands Senior Member

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    ...Sometimes, you can get away with a bit of discomfort with calfskin when you first buy, because the shoes will stretch over time and become more comfortable. I've found this to be less likely with shell...

    Again, I think it comes down to how you feel about shell. I love it. You have to decide whether it's worth the extra money to you.


    I am trying, and you are being extremely helpful, and I am grateful for your veteran opinion.

    What you're saying is, as I understand it, for the extra money, you get more durability and better looks, but you might sacrifice a little in comfort? I'm ok with that. How does it react to the occasional water exposure?

    Believe me, if could find these Aldens for under $400, I'd be all over that like the IAF on an Egyptian Airfield. But since I'm a shoe n00b, I might have to go with the PA, and upgrade to cordovan later.

    I usually interpret 'sleek' to mean 'elf shoes.' As long as a shoe doesn't look like Stacy Adams or Doc Marten designed it, it's not too clunky. I hate reverse welts though...

    I would get the Alden Aldens over the BB Aldens, for the savings, having sampled them both. I don't know why Alden gets such a short shrift here...is it because they are not as widely available as A-E, or is it the "clunky look?"

    Do forum members believe that a sleek shoe makes them appear thinner?

    FWIW, you can get new PAs for half this price on ebay.

    Do you have a preferred seller?
     


  10. DocHolliday

    DocHolliday Stylish Dinosaur Dubiously Honored

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    II would get the Alden Aldens over the BB Aldens, for the savings, having sampled them both. I don't know why Alden gets such a short shrift here...is it because they are not as widely available as A-E, or is it the "clunky look?"

    I think it's mostly because AEs are far more widely available, particularly on discount. One can pick up two to three AEs for the price of one Alden.
     


  11. JBZ

    JBZ Distinguished Member

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    You get more durability. However, a high quality calfskin shoe is also going to be very durable (a well made, well cared for calfskin shoe is going to last a long, long time). I think you get better looks, but this is subjective. Some people just don't like shell cordovan. I don't think you're sacrificing much in the way of comfort, I just think you should make sure up front that you're getting a good fit. Shell generally reacts well to water exposure, although I have heard that water can sometimes cause small bumps to rise on the leather. These recede as the shoe dries. I generally don't take any of my dress shoes for long walks in wet weather, so I haven't experienced this personally.

    The Shoe Mart (www.theshoemart.com) is the only retailer I know of that carries Alden seconds (both calfskin and shell). The seconds are not listed on their website, but you can call them and get a list of models in your size. Last I checked, the shell seconds ran $325, while the calfskin were $250 (I think). I have purchased two pairs of seconds through the Shoe Mart. The defects on my pairs are insignificant (I can see them, but you have to look really, really closely). Short of finding a good deal on ebay, I don't think you can do better for Aldens.

    I don't think members think a sleeker shoe makes them appear thinner. I just think they appreciate the aesthetic more than the Aldens. Different strokes. I own four pairs of Edward Green and three or four pairs of Crockett & Jones and they are great, great shoes. I shy away from the extremely sleek styles that some here covet (e.g. some offerings by Santoni or Berluti) but, as I said, different strokes.

    I think Alden and AE are seen as about equals here from a construction standpoint, but the AE's are a bit more ubiquitous and (unlike Alden) can often be had for a discount. This may explain the popularity of AE over Alden that you perceive.
     


  12. grimslade

    grimslade Stylish Dinosaur

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    On the AE/Alden question, I have to say that price is one factor, but the bigger deal for me, at least, is that I have just never found an Alden style that really made me think, I need that shoe. AEs are not necessarily objects of pornographic desire either, but they make some shoes that I like. I'm wearing Eversnow Brown AE Park Avenues right now. It's a great shoe. Sometimes I think I ought to have a pair in black, but black shoes seem so boring next to a nice rich brown.
     


  13. yachtie

    yachtie Distinguished Member

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    For someone like me who is rather sensitive to how a shoe holds my foot as well as having the right amount of support, I have to cast my vote for Alden. I'm happy with my AE's but my Alden shells are more substantial and fit me better. I'd say that from a durability standpoint shell cordovan outlasts calfskin at least 2:1 (to my experience). I also think the "Alden aesthetic" looks nice-not flashy, but nice in an understated, conservative way. Both lines have their place but I really like my Alden shoes and have never thought of them as "clunky". But then again I'm not into the pointy-toed Italian style either. To each his own. I'm wearing Alden 2145's now

    [​IMG]
     


  14. norcaltransplant

    norcaltransplant Distinguished Member

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    Btw, please post pictures of the Bass Weejuns. For your money, the Aldens will be a better longterm solution, but please remember that shell wears like nails but is hot as hell. I wore a pair of shell cordo Italian gunboats on Monday... and my feet were still quite toasty.
     


  15. The Devil's Hands

    The Devil's Hands Senior Member

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    ...I shy away from the extremely sleek styles that some here covet (e.g. some offerings by Santoni or Berluti) but, as I said, different strokes.

    Me too. My eyes find Santoni's extra long Oxfords insulting. The PAs are simple and elegant, and the Aldens are heavy-duty class.

    I think Alden and AE are seen as about equals here from a construction standpoint, but the AE's are a bit more ubiquitous and (unlike Alden) can often be had for a discount. This may explain the popularity of AE over Alden that you perceive.

    Who do you think has the best construction over all the brands you mention? It seems to me that AE is the minimum acceptable standard here (and something that your average poster can easily afford), and Aldens are a little better. Lobb RTW is apparently made from Unicorn hair sewn Mithril by the tiny hands of midget violin virtuosos.

    Why would well-informed people pay more for a shoe that is of equal quality? If they didn't like the style, I would think the prices for equivalents would be lower. Maybe I don't understand the specialty shoe market.

    I'll call shoe-mart tomorrow about the seconds.

    AEs are not necessarily objects of pornographic desire either, but they make some shoes that I like.

    What shoes are objects of pornographic desire for you?

    For your money, the Aldens will be a better longterm solution, but please remember that shell wears like nails but is hot as hell.

    I'd say that from a durability standpoint shell cordovan outlasts calfskin at least 2:1 (to my experience).


    I don't mind the heat; I guess I should go with the cord. What is the name of Alden's Captoe Oxford in cord (not the perforated cap either, not the Blucher)?

    That 2145 is a mighty fancy shoe, Yachtie. I'd like one in black.

    I'll post pictures of the Bass Weejuns as soon as I find my digital camera.
     


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