Where did Johnston & Murphy go wrong?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by dieselman89, Dec 25, 2010.

  1. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    If you can find J&M Handmade shoes then you are definitely getting works of art. Otherwise, you should look to different sources.

    If only J&M took cues from some of the English brands and went back to high quality. That would be something. Stateside.
     


  2. gnatty8

    gnatty8 Senior member

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    What? I thought some old Florsheim shoes were good. I've read elsewhere on here that Florsheim shoes were once good like J&M, if better.

    The old, made in USA Florsheim were very good. If one watches B&S, deadstock appears from time to time. In terms of lomgwings, they were close to any Alden longwing I own, but I would not put them on par. Again though, compare them to the current incarnation, which I believe are made in India, and the difference is stark.

    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.


    Agree with everything you've said here, those old Crown Aristocraft J&M were a thing to behold.
     


  3. 69clyde

    69clyde Senior member

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    If you can find J&M Handmade shoes then you are definitely getting works of art. Otherwise, you should look to different sources.

    If only J&M took cues from some of the English brands and went back to high quality. That would be something. Stateside.

    I have two pairs in black and brown that are balmorals hand made in Italy. Had them probably 5 years and found them at a JM outlet store in San Marcos, Texas for $100.00 each. They are wondereful and the patina on the brown are fantastic...
     


  4. KObalto

    KObalto Senior member

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    If you can find J&M Handmade shoes then you are definitely getting works of art. Otherwise, you should look to different sources.

    If only J&M took cues from some of the English brands and went back to high quality. That would be something. Stateside.


    Are you referring to shoes or suits? [​IMG]
     


  5. Shoe City Thinker

    Shoe City Thinker Senior member

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    The "greater than" symbol is <. Just quibbling.

    Sue me. I was an English major for obvious reasons.
     


  6. deveandepot1

    deveandepot1 Senior member

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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.



    Very informative post.
    Thanks [​IMG]
     


  7. the.chikor

    the.chikor Senior member

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    Genesco= big corporation
    big corporation= need for higher profits
    need for higher profits= cost cutting
    cost cutting= lower quality
    lower quality = crap product!


    This seems to quantify most US products these days![​IMG]
     


  8. dieselman89

    dieselman89 Senior member

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    The bottom line is consumers need to start demanding betetr service and better quality. The companies made the switch b/c they could and consumers let it happen. If we stop buying brands like J&amp;M they will take notice. I know that I will only buy their shoes that are made in USA/handmade or made in italy. J&amp;M made in Mexico are not much better than kenneth coles and that quality.
     


  9. 69clyde

    69clyde Senior member

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    The bottom line is consumers need to start demanding betetr service and better quality. The companies made the switch b/c they could and consumers let it happen. If we stop buying brands like J&M they will take notice. I know that I will only buy their shoes that are made in USA/handmade or made in italy. J&M made in Mexico are not much better than kenneth coles and that quality.
    +1
     


  10. Bartolo

    Bartolo Senior member

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    The bottom line is consumers need to start demanding betetr service and better quality. The companies made the switch b/c they could and consumers let it happen. If we stop buying brands like J&M they will take notice. I know that I will only buy their shoes that are made in USA/handmade or made in italy. J&M made in Mexico are not much better than kenneth coles and that quality.

    I strongly suspect that "we" don't buy many J&M shoes.

    The shoes "we" buy start at around $300, a price point that just isn't sustainable for all brands and all consumers.
     


  11. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    Are you referring to shoes or suits? [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     


  12. kmdsimpson

    kmdsimpson Senior member

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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.


    I have three pairs of the Limiteds, all made in the USA, before the trampoline. They are one notch below Aristocrafts, IIRC, because at the time the Aristocrafts were out of my price range. But my Limiteds are still great shoes. I think they are much better than my AEs, which I also like; I don't have a comparable pair of Aldens. There is a reason that J&M used to hang their hat on making shoes for every president of the US since they were founded - because the J&M name really used to mean something.

    Yes, it is hard to believe for those young whippersnappers out there, but us older folk speak the truth!
     


  13. pseudonym

    pseudonym Senior member

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    Sorry to bump this old topic, but I found a pair of J&amp;M at a thrift for cheap. It says Heritage - Made in USA.

    According to the posts here, these old Made in USA J&amp;Ms are at least on the decent side?
     


  14. greekgeek

    greekgeek Senior member

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    ^ Decent, welted shoes but nothing remarkable.
     


  15. tonylumpkin

    tonylumpkin Senior member

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    Sorry to bump this old topic, but I found a pair of J&M at a thrift for cheap. It says Heritage - Made in USA.

    According to the posts here, these old Made in USA J&Ms are at least on the decent side?


    In my experience, the Heritage models, while welted, often used corrected grain leathers.
     


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