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Joe Wohkittel

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By the end, The Aldrich II were being made in Mexico I’m pretty sure.
Yes, and unlike Cole Hann, they kept many of the same style names (e.g. Melton) the same across the move to Mexico, and then China and India.
 

Joe Wohkittel

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"AE let us buy a certain number of pairs a year at wholesale"
If my memory serves me right, almost all manufacturers - I worked in a store at that time as well - allowed salesman to buy some pairs per year at wholesale. Did you meant that AE allowed, but Cole Haan and J&M did not?
That could very well be. I just don't recall AE ever giving us pairs via promotions the way J&M and Cole Haan did, but I did buy from them via the wholesale program. AE may have had similar contests and I just forgot, or it could be that because AEs were more expensive, and never went on sale, I may never have sold enough of them to qualify. I recall that every summer, the Cole Haan models would go on sale for $99.99, and we'd sell hundreds of pairs, making contest numbers fairly easy to meet. They were made in USA and normally retailed for about $150. There was a different but similar annual sale for J&M.

So what did people use on shoes in the days before Bick 4 and Lexol?
Bear grease for one (yes, it says it includes real bear fat, which is also rumored to make the best fat for pie crusts):
 
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Nobleprofessor

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That could very well be. I just don't recall AE ever giving us pairs via promotions the way J&M and Cole Haan did, but I did buy from them via the wholesale program. AE may have had similar contests and I just forgot, or it could be that because AEs were more expensive, and never went on sale, I may never have sold enough of them to qualify. I recall that every summer, the Cole Haan models would go on sale for $99.99, and we'd sell hundreds of pairs, making contest numbers fairly easy to meet. They were made in USA and normally retailed for about $150. There was a different but similar annual sale for J&M.


Bear grease for one (yes, it says it includes real bear fat, which is also rumored to make the best fat for pie crusts):
I bought a number of those 99.99 Cole Haans back when they were decent. It is a shame how far Cole Haan has fallen.
 

friendlygoz

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I actually had lunch with a real life person. It was outdoors of course. My AE St. George jodhpur boots came along.
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WSB17

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I was happy to pick up a couple pairs of Crowns at the very end of the run. In fact, I've been happy with almost all the US made J&M shoes I've had over the years, as long as they are not cement construction. Before most US production ended in the early 2000s, the Optima line used corrected grain but had quality oak leather soles and wore well. Above that Trampoline tended to be full grain. However, the construction wasn't the greatest on them, and they were held together with a lot of glue. Never had that problem with US made Aristocrafts or Crown Aristocrafts, but at the end of the run, some Crowns ended up on eBay that seem to have been assembled with whatever materials were leftover.
The "crown" designator came into being in the 80s (I believe). Older Aristocrafts have a Roman numeral at the end that seems to have increased over a period of years, but I don't know the timespan.

When I started selling shoes in the late 90s, J&M still sent around a gentleman for trunk shows who took custom measurements, which set them apart from other US makers. They had more sales contests that Cole Haan and AE, with opportunities to win a trip to the factory in Nashville and have your own custom pair made. All three had ways to try and make sure we wore their shoes (AE let us buy a certain number of pairs a year at wholesale), but J&M's contests were always the best.
Yes, the regular US made Aristocrafts were great value too and I own a few pairs.

Most of my Crown Aristocrafts were bought in store, or online from J&M.
I did buy 2 pairs from the Nashville eBay store that sells only J&M shoes (I'm almost positive they're closely tied to the J&M factory store, or perhaps this is the J&M online factory store, they just don't advertise it as such), but I did not notice any difference in quality. They were simply factory seconds with very minor defects.
They even had some Custom Select pairs (this was the MTO program J&M ran for few years, basically Crown Aristocraft in slightly different styles, colors and personalized options).

What you mentioned about the trunk shows and contests confirms my impression that J&M was indeed the premium American shoe, in terms of quality, breadth of styles, CS, distribution, popularity (making shoes for the US presidents), etc.
Basically everything Allen Edmonds represents and stands for today.
 
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suitforcourt

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Florsheim 97626s that were dyed black. A cobbler rebuilt with JR soles, toe taps, new welts, grommets, and rubber heels. They feel like new.

Wishing you all a great weekend ahead. Next week will be a historic one.

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Jiqea

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My truck is in the shop this morning having the snow tires installed, so I thought it would be a good time to get out my boots and give them a little TLC. From left to right in the first photo are Crockett & Jones, Trickers and Peal and Co., while in the second are my 1950's Valentine Police Boots, Dacks Zippered Chelsea and my Loakes. I guess I am a little overweight with English makers when it comes to boots.

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GoldenHarvestMedal

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Your CJ boots are great!
My truck is in the shop this morning having the snow tires installed, so I thought it would be a good time to get out my boots and give them a little TLC. From left to right in the first photo are Crockett & Jones, Trickers and Peal and Co., while in the second are my 1950's Valentine Police Boots, Dacks Zippered Chelsea and my Loakes. I guess I am a little overweight with English makers when it comes to boots.

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suitforcourt

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KotaB

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friendlygoz

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Mystery model Florsheim captoes that I dyed moccasin brown. I love the stitching on these.
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