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The first pair of good shoes that I ever bought were Alden dark brown half brogue bals (model #913, Hampton last). For a couple of years, I wore them twice a week or more, and I always thought that they were both good-looking and extremely comfortable. In time, though, I began to acquire more shoes; and the novelty wore off of my 913s. They came out of the closet less and less; and until recently, I probably hadn't worn them in four or five years. Well, I've been going through something of an Alden phase recently, and I thought that it would be a shame to put my Alden shoes in heavy rotation without bringing these out once again. I'm glad that I did.

One of the big knocks on Alden is that their lasts are inelegant, ugly, and brutal. I probably have even written something like that before. Well, that might be a fair evaluation of Barrie and Trubalance; but it's not true for all Alden lasts. When I put my 913s on, I was struck by just how shapely they were. Elegant, even. Compare it, for example, to Edward Green's bread-and-butter round-toe last, the 202:



The Alden shoe is below, and the EG shoe (the Cadogan model) is on top. To be honest, 202 isn't my favorite EG last, but it's certainly not bad. Hampton can certainly hold its own. The toe is smarter than on the 202, and I really like the exaggerated swing from the ball to the toe of the Hampton. It's really a pretty last, particularly with a cap-toe like 913.

(Incidentally, Alden seems to have discontinued a number of their shoes in dark brown calfskin -- a shame, really, given how good it looks and how well it ages. Check out the sale shoes at the Alden Shop in San Francisco -- you'll find the 936 plain-toe bal on Plaza, the 902 full brogue bal on Hampton, and the previously-mentioned 913 at very good prices.)
 

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"inelegant, ugly, and brutal"

No, I don't think so. But perhaps more robust, and sometimes even clumsy might be fair for some shoes. I've had a long preference for English shoes (Vass can never be a consideration.) for "dress." But precisely for their more robust, or perhaps rugged appearance, I've always found Yankee shoemakers seem to better understand the aesthetic of casual shoes, shoes less apt to be worn with a more formal suit.

I've always found the workmanship to be finer as a generality, in addition to the lasts on most English shoes. Things such as the punches, stitching, how close the sole is trimmed and even the precision with which the welt is crimped tends to be better on the better English shoes than might be seen in Alden. (The welt may well not be crimped, but that's my attempt at a descriptive term for the ridged appearance of the top of one.)
 

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I cannot tell much of a difference. They look fine to me. I don't claim to know everything about shoes though. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
For comparison, here's Hampton (this time 904) next to EG's "smart round" last, the 82 (seen here on the Beaulieu in Color #8 shell cordovan):



Not an embarrassing comparison for the Hampton, although I do think that the 82 is more attractive. (And I don't think that the Hampton is as well-suited to a wingtip as it is to a cap-toe.)
 

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A great thread.

The comparison photos demonstrate that an Alden can be a very elegant shoe, as both the Hampton and Plaza (when available) last ably attest. I own both.

Now if they could only elevate their finishing to something w/ more character and depth than pair of crocs...
 

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A great thread.

The comparison photos demonstrate that an Alden can be a very elegant shoe, as both the Hampton and Plaza (when available) last ably attest....
Thanks for this very informative thread. You have significantly reduced this Alden owner's EG envy. Just don't post photos of the bottoms of the shoes!
 

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One of the big knocks on Alden is that their lasts are inelegant, ugly, and brutal. .)
We call gun boats on the Barrie last "Big and Heavy" at the daily footwear for a reason.
I love those big shoes. Of course, we all know elegant is in the eye of the beholder.
I also like British shoes. I only have a handful. But what I like about Alden, most Allen Edmonds, and older Florsheims is that they don't try to be British.

Big American shoes for big American feet.

Check these out.



14" and nearly a half foot wide of pure "big and heavy" elegance. :icon_smile_big:

Complements of Alden.
 

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What size are those? My Barrie lasted Alden wingtips 14D, so they are the same length but a little narrower.

My problem with Alden is not flexible enough (at that price range, if I'm willing to wait, I should be able to order different models on the Barrie last), poor quality control (at least in my small sample size), and awful heels on their Cape Cod bit loafers.
 

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What size are those? My Barrie lasted Alden wingtips 14D, so they are the same length but a little narrower.

My problem with Alden is not flexible enough (at that price range, if I'm willing to wait, I should be able to order different models on the Barrie last) .
Those gun boats are 13EE on the Barrie last. They're wider than my 13EEE cap toes on the Alden Hampton last and longer than my 14E loafers on the Alden Aberdeen last.
 
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