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Where did Johnston & Murphy go wrong?

lee_44106

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Originally Posted by dieselman89
It's a shame that if you speak to most American males acquainted with style and ask about Johnston and Murphy they will all tell you the same thing...

Johnston & Murphy used to be one of the best shoes on the market. They were a businessman shoe and were great quality and value. Over the past few years it's not the same. I was discussing this scenario with a reputable shoe salesman in Atlanta and said what's your take on J&M. He said the same thing everyone else on SF says "they used to be a great shoe...not so much anymore."

That's honestly a shame. J&M used to stand for a great american shoe company but no longer. Where did they go wrong??? What needs to be done to bring this company back??? I find Allen Edmonds, the company which is now the top American shoe company rather boring.




you sound like one of those senile, demented 80 year old who sits on a sofa all day in his Depends, lamenting the new and reminescing about the "good ol' days"
 

RIDER

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J&M USED to be the best welt factory (USA) shoe on the market. Period.

But, the marketers took over, to say it simply.

I remember we closed the shops on a Saturday evening and when we opened Monday morning it seemed the entire crew in Nashville had turned over. Like a weekend house cleaning. These new guys basically took over. A group from Noxell, if I remember well. Genesco had owned it for a long time....wasn't Genesco per se, it was when marketing overtook product in the 80's for many manufacturers that J&M started to spiral down from a quality and tradition standpoint. Of course, back then we were not really making any money for Genesco, so kind of hard to fault them. My father was the Mid-Atlantic wholesale man....I ran the Baltimore shop and then went down to DC to work at the 18th & M location, which was a great gig. We had a very simple, organized, old-time type business. Much less emphasis on styles and much more on sizes and widths in a core group of shoes. In the end, tastes changed, finances changed...the market changed. J&M changed with it - or maybe even was ahead of the change.

Interestingly, my father jumped over to A/E who immediately took over the classic shoe business on the east coast where J&M had been very strong.....and, thanks to Nordstrom, continued this business philosophy of a few key shoes in many sizes and widths to a successful 20 year run. Now, after the real shoe people turned A/E over to the marketers, the story is repeating itself. With the only exception being the trade agreements in place now that were not then, which allow brands to go off-shore without really saying so. Dad retired last year....'just in time'. Or 'on-time' depending your perspective on these things.

If you somehow find a new deadstock pair of Aristocrafts or Crown Aristocrafts out there before they went to the trampoline insoles (20 + yrs old) you will be buying a better shoe than any brand new A/E or Alden shoe coming out now, IMO.
 

Crane's

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I have an old pair of made in Italy J&Ms that have been resoled I don't know how many times now. They are one of my most comfortable pair of shoes I own with a nice patina to match. It'll be a shame when they finally die. I'm sure it's going to cost me a bunch to find a shoe of that quality today.
 

The Deacon

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Originally Posted by RIDER
J&M USED to be the best welt factory (USA) shoe on the market. Period.

But, the marketers took over, to say it simply.

I remember we closed the shops on a Saturday evening and when we opened Monday morning it seemed the entire crew in Nashville had turned over. Like a weekend house cleaning. These new guys basically took over. A group from Noxell, if I remember well. Genesco had owned it for a long time....wasn't Genesco per se, it was when marketing overtook product in the 80's for many manufacturers that J&M started to spiral down from a quality and tradition standpoint. Of course, back then we were not really making any money for Genesco, so kind of hard to fault them. My father was the Mid-Atlantic wholesale man....I ran the Baltimore shop and then went down to DC to work at the 18th & M location, which was a great gig. We had a very simple, organized, old-time type business. Much less emphasis on styles and much more on sizes and widths in a core group of shoes. In the end, tastes changed, finances changed...the market changed. J&M changed with it - or maybe even was ahead of the change.

Interestingly, my father jumped over to A/E who immediately took over the classic shoe business on the east coast where J&M had been very strong.....and, thanks to Nordstrom, continued this business philosophy of a few key shoes in many sizes and widths to a successful 20 year run. Now, after the real shoe people turned A/E over to the marketers, the story is repeating itself. With the only exception being the trade agreements in place now that were not then, which allow brands to go off-shore without really saying so. Dad retired last year....'just in time'. Or 'on-time' depending your perspective on these things.

If you somehow find a new deadstock pair of Aristocrafts or Crown Aristocrafts out there before they went to the trampoline insoles (20 + yrs old) you will be buying a better shoe than any brand new A/E or Alden shoe coming out now, IMO.


Thank you!
 

Boston Tweed

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Originally Posted by Shoe City Thinker

In the hierarchy of men's dress shoes in terms of quality it goes as follows:

Florshiem > Bostonian > J&M > Allen-Edmonds > Alden



I'd just like to echo what everyone else here said. I own a pair of made in the USA J&M from the early 1990s and they are superior to my AE and roughly on par with my calfskin Aldens. Truly great shoes, and a shame what happened with their mainline products.

Only thing I'd like to change are the rankings above. In my opinion they are as follows:

Florsheim < Bostonian < J&M <<<<<<< AE < Alden

It isn't just a space between Florsheim/Bostonian/J&M/Kenneth Cole/most Cole Haan and AE, it is a chasm. The quality difference between leathers and construction is just unbelievable.
 

KObalto

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Originally Posted by RIDER
J&M USED to be the best welt factory (USA) shoe on the market. Period.


Really interesting post, Ron, thanks. So you don't think the new AE CEO is turning things around? And where was the Baltimore shop? I don't recall it.
 

KObalto

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^Mostly corrected grain and glued, IIRC.
 

RIDER

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Originally Posted by KObalto
Really interesting post, Ron, thanks. So you don't think the new AE CEO is turning things around? And where was the Baltimore shop? I don't recall it.

Well, I'm sure he will guide them into much more profit - have no doubt about that.

The shop was in Towson. Where the mall is now, but before it became the area it has become.
 

Metlin

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Originally Posted by 69clyde
Same thing happened to Brooks Brothers...

Far from it. BB still has some quality products -- and outside of J Press, they do not have a lot of competition in their target market. I doubt they are too eager to lose their image that easily.
 

comrade

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Originally Posted by Metlin
Far from it. BB still has some quality products -- and outside of J Press, they do not have a lot of competition in their target market. I doubt they are too eager to lose their image that easily.

Both BB and Press have declined markedly in last 20 years. Yes, they may have retained some
quality products but on average there has been an overall decline. I can cite one BB item:
oxford cloth pyjamas. I have several pair that are probably over ten years old which are still
wearable. More recent purchases are literally disintegrating within a few years.
 

KObalto

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Originally Posted by comrade
Both BB and Press have declined markedly in last 20 years. Yes, they may have retained some
quality products but on average there has been an overall decline. I can cite one BB item:
oxford cloth pyjamas. I have several pair that are probably over ten years old which are still
wearable. More recent purchases are literally disintegrating within a few years.


I think BB has renewed their commitment to quality somewhat under the Italian ownership that came in a few years back.They were sliding badly before that.
 

ckadds

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I recently was looking at the JM website and saw the &quot;custom select&quot; line. does anyone have experience with this mtm line and what is the quality of the shoe comparable too. thanks
 

laufer

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Originally Posted by ckadds
I recently was looking at the JM website and saw the "custom select" line. does anyone have experience with this mtm line and what is the quality of the shoe comparable too. thanks
It's stupid. You get to select the leather color and shoes. That's it. Get this you cannot even see the color. I called them and asked if I could get a small (1x1 inch) sample swatch of their chestnut color because J&M stores do not stock any shoes in that color. They said "we do not provide samples". In the other words I should order something that is not returnable and cost premium without even seeing what it looks like. Screw that, J&M is like Nike trying to manufacture something for pennies and then selling that for $$$$$. I refuse to patronize business that spend more money on marketing then on the product itself be it shoe, clothing or food company.
 

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