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Shoes my dad used to wear...

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by JohnMS, Mar 4, 2004.

  1. JohnMS

    JohnMS Senior member

    Feb 20, 2004
    What is the history of Florsheim in terms of the quality of their shoes?

    Since joining this forum I have realized something. My dad used to have a few nice pairs of shoes that he wore. He had several pairs of Florsheim shoes.

    I remember back in the 60s that dad wore wingtips. I am amused looking back at how "old man" those shoes appeared and that at some point in my life I determined that those shoes weren't so bad looking.

    When I started looking at shoes on eBay, I would see Florsheim shoes for sale and wonder why they looked so cheap. Then occasionally a shell cordovan model would come up that looked older and better made. It was confusing.

    Then, I read a short blurb that stated Florsheim shoes used to be pretty good, but that was the end of the statement.

    I remember dad's shoes having brass nails in the heels and even a metal triangle in the heel area, which now I realize was to help minimize heel wear.

    But here was the kicker. Mom likes to store certain things in old shoe boxes. She's over 80 years old now and dad has been gone for a long time, but some of his shoe boxes are used for storage. I noticed a Florsheim box from years and years ago (probably 1960s) and it had a price on the box of $65. That must have been quite a bit of money to pay for a pair of shoes back then for a blue-collar worker such as dad.

    So here it is, 30 years later and I wish I could catch a glimpse of dad's shoes again. Perhaps even fit in a pair, just to try them out.

    So does anyone know of what quality Florsheim shoes used to be? Were they among the upper crust of RTW American shoes at one time?
  2. Mitch D

    Mitch D Well-Known Member

    Feb 1, 2003
    Seattle,WA. USA
    There is something comforting to me about their heavy,clunky wingtips. I own two pair -- one black,one burgundy -- and they always remind me of when I had to polish my Dad's shoes as a child,as part of my weekly chores. Re: Florsheim's History: http://www.florsheim.com/aboutus.asp
  3. AlanC

    AlanC Senior member

    Nov 7, 2003
    Heart of America
    My opinion of wingtips has generally been negative. But I've decided a couple of things about that. One is, I believe it has been influenced by the ubiquity of cheap, poorly kept wingtips combined with bad business attire. Second, I like wingtips in browns rather than black. Particularly the brown wingtip country shoes I've seen pictures of have appealed to me.

    I'll likely go with a semi-brogue rather than a full wingtip as a brown dress shoe purchase. I'll aim for a full brogue for a country/casual shoe.
  4. Classic

    Classic Senior member

    Jan 28, 2004
    I have a pair of Florshiem's lace up wing tips purchased many years ago. They are an extremely comfortable pair of shoes, and have held up very well. While there are shoes of far better quality, I can't complain as I have received great value for the amount paid.
  5. Bradford

    Bradford Senior member

    Mar 19, 2002
    I had a pair of black Florsheim tassel loafers with the wingtip style toes that I bought for around $100 in 1989 and they lasted until 1997. The quality of those seemed very good.

    However, I remember hearing somewhere that the company was sold, I believe in the mid-90's, to Sears and that the quality has since declined.

    It's too bad, because I remember knowing the Florsheim's were good shoes.

  6. Kai

    Kai Senior member

    Aug 16, 2003
    My first job I ever had (in second grade) was working at a Florsheim shoe store cleaning, polishing, dusting and sweeping.

    I remember looking at the shiny shoes and thinking they were really cool, and unbelievably expensive. There were some burgundy and white spectators that were particulalry memorable. I've not owned any Florsheim shoes, so I can't really comment on current quality. I can say that my job at the shoe store certainly was my first exposure to good looking shoes. After that, I would take notice of the kind of shoes that men were wearing. Probably responsible for my overflowing shoe racks today.
  7. mack

    mack Active Member

    Sep 20, 2003
    My father also wore Florsheims and I had to polish them weekly.  

    My recollection is that they were the best quality and most expensive shoes available to men in most parts of the country.  Florsheim advertised heavily to keep up their image and it's no coincidence that Jack Nicholson as Jake Giddes mentions them by name.

    The man who wore Florsheims probably also wore a Botany 500 or HSM suit.  If he had some money, maybe he wore Hickey. In most towns, nobody knew anything about Oxxford.  Remember, everybody wore a suit for church or to go out on the town.  There were casual clothes, but these were generally limited to the wardrobes of people who had some money and probably only worn at the country club.

    I knew the owners of each men's store in my town and they would all be shod in Florsheim.  

    Most men's shoes were black wingtips, a style I disliked then and now.  It was part of the uniform of the American male- dark suit, white shirt and black wingtips. White collar men wore the uniform every day, but both white and blue collar wore it in the evenings and on weekends.

    Maybe people thought the thick souls would last longer; my father had shoes that he wore for more than ten years.

    If you want a style icon for the period, think the old IBM salesman or Richard Nixon.  I still know lawyers who wear wingtips daily, but I think a derby with broguing gives a more stylish  and slimmer look with more design possibilities.

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