- May 25, 2015
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So why do you think we so often see Depression-era stuff from Florsheim and Bostonian and others but never see Allen Edmonds from that era? Was it just that AE was such a tiny, almost regional, company at the time?You’d be shocked by some of the quality problems I’ve seen on mid and late 70’s era AE’s. The company was on the verge of collapse in the early 80’s when John Stollenwerk executed a leveraged management buyout of the Allen’s position and made AE into the globally recognized brand it is today. He also had the smarts to push AE up-market aggressively (in perceived quality) when the rest of the industry chased price-points into the ground.
However (in fairness to the Florsheim’s of the world) AE was a tiny company that didn’t have the huge legacy costs, versus the other crumbling US shoe giants. They simply weren’t configured to survive on low-volume, high-margin production. AE and Alden (along with small British makers) were perfectly situated to serve the “luxury” end of the market, whereas the giants were just to big (especially with regards to retirement liabilities, shareholder expectations, legacy footprint) to survive.
Interestingly enough, as the giants of the US shoe industry collapsed, the smart ones diversified and changed. The Melville Shoe Company (Thom McAn being their once famous main brand) is today the 260 billion dollar (in annual revenue) CVS Health (it’s literally a direct lineage).
By the way, as I’ve pontificated about many times, not every vintage shoe that’s GYW and made in the US during the 20’s - 60’s, was good. The reason we see certain brands on this thread, over and over again, is those brands used high quality materials.
Little tiny French Shriner & Urner (which was smaller than AE back in the 50’s) has surviving examples (many quite worn) from their 30-50’s heyday, that pop up on eBay and on this thread. They are beautiful, all-leather (meaning leather uppers, insole, outsole) shoes made from great materials:
In contrast, these (NOS) City Club shoes, made within a year or so or the pair above, look good (GYW, good fit and finish) but are made of garbage materials:
Look closely and you find everything is loose grain that’s heavily corrected:
The insoles are paper-board:
And everything is cost-cut to hell and back where people can’t see it:
Including using horrible bonded leather linings.
This is why so many of the once giant brands are vastly under-represented versus say Florsheim (which was made by the same parent company as City Club) - Florsheim’s were far better made, especially material-wise. Just like today, you generally got what you were willing to pay for.
Yeah they were very small and I suspect they were doing a lot of contract work, as you don’t really see their advertisements pop until the mid 40’s. That said, the history gets very fuzzy for AE when you go back further than the early 50’s. (Doesn’t help that the fire in 84 destroyed much of the historical record for the company.)So why do you think we so often see Depression-era stuff from Florsheim and Bostonian and others but never see Allen Edmonds from that era? Was it just that AE was such a tiny, almost regional, company at the time?
For something that carries such lofty naming, and claims of hand lasting (which can mean different things to different shoe makers) the upper workmanship is not stellar. I’d also expect, for a top-of-the-line shoe from the late 70’s, full leather linings (something you got with Florsheim Imperials and LB Sheppard’s).I came across this Cole Haan Imperial pair, hand lasted. I think they should be blind stitched too, but I’m not sure. Odd size 9.5B however. In case someone is interested.
<p>Vintage Cole-Haan Imperial Grade Men’s Shoes NOS Brown Wing Sz 9.5 AA/B. Condition is "New with box". These are New Old Stock shoes. The insole measures 10.75 inches long and the outsole is 11.75 inches long. The broadest point across the toe is 4 inches. These shoes came from the James Davis...www.ebay.com