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AE has also apparently cut quality. I examined a few pairs at the store recently-
I'm concerned that they have gone to a synthetic insole, the stitching in the sole channel on some of the shoes I looked at was quite sloppy. One paie's top sticthing was crooked... rubber heels that looked a little cheap.

I hope that I saw just a few bad pairs but it gives me pause.
 

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Isn't the Fifth Avenue properly a "punchcap"? I think a quarter brogue has more broguing--on the order of the discontinued Benton, for instance.

I have a pair of Strands on order. I'll comment if I perceive a diminution of quality when I get them.
 

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Isn't the Fifth Avenue properly a "punchcap"? I think a quarter brogue has more broguing--on the order of the discontinued Benton, for instance.
Hmmm . . . my impression is that a punch-cap means a shoe with decorative perfing on the toe cap itself, or in other words a half-brogue.

FWIW: On p. 101 of Clothes and the Man, Flusser shows an illustration of a cap-toe oxford with perfing on the toe seam and the heel-counter seam but no perfing (punching) on the toe cap, and calls it "The plain cap-toe brogue." Below on the same page, he shows a drawing of an oxford with perfing on the toe cap and on the vamp seam and heel-counter seam. This he calls "The perforated cap-toe brogue," and in the block of text just below that calls it "the medallion cap-toe."

Alden calls the shoe in its range that corresponds to the AE Fifth Ave a "Perf Tip Bal[moral]" and its half-brogue offering a "Medallion Tip Bal[moral]."

But then again, Alden calls all the dress lace-ups in its range "oxfords" even if they are derbies (or "bluchers" if you prefer to honor that strange but strangely effective Prussian marshal when discussing footwear). In fact, Alden even has shoes it calls "blucher oxfords" (!) so perhaps we should look to Alden for excellent US-made shoes but not nomenclatural clarity.
 

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I don't see how you can make the leap from looking at a couple of pairs that didn't look right to you, to the company as a whole is "cutting corners"
The "obvious" steps are

1) they've replaced the leather insole with a black synthetic insole that based on every similar insole I've seen will never last as long.

2) the old partial-leather heel is gone (has been for a while) and the heel's I looked at were rough around the edges- looking like something hurried off an assembly line- there was extrusion rubber still remaining on the edge of one.

3) out of five new shoes, three had stitching in the welt/channel that actually veered briefly out of the channel. Statisically not a % in AE's favor, especially as the shoes were different models.

4) I didn't mention the shoes with edge dressing streaked across the bottom of the sole.

A couple of years ago- these obvious visual defects would have made these "seconds".

As I have said before in other threads, I am a fan of AE's but these recent experiences give me pause. Ever since Goldner Hawn bought them, I do wonder what their business pressures are.
 

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I agree. I have seen a marked change in Allen-Edmonds direction since the company came under new ownership.

Over the years I've owned half a dozen pairs of AEs, with four pairs in current rotation -- shell MacNeils, brown Byrons, chili Byrons, and black Berkleys (yes, that's how AE spelled it -- they're classic black calf dress oxfords no longer in production, though oddly enough AE seems to have recycled the name at some point for another AE model bearing no resemblance to mine whatsoever). They are all very high quality shoes, sturdy and comfortable, well worth what I paid for them.

But when I look at AE's current production standards, and the styles of each successive cycle of new models that move AE further away from a classic businessman's dress shoe line and closer to a young man's trendy mall "dress casual" footwear brand, I am convinced that I should do everything I can to take care of the shoes I've got now, because they're the last AEs I expect to buy if the company continues down this regrettable path.

The good news is, shoes like Aldens and pre-acquisition AEs can easily last 20 years or more with proper care -- theoretically, I'm set up for life, or at least till the time when I can ditch the shoe brush and just live in the pair of plain beige Reeboks they issue you when you hit 60, apparently. The bad news is, with fewer and fewer respectable choices for the younger man just now assembling a wardrobe, there will be even more jackasses walking around in black duckbills. A victimless crime, I suppose. But still.
 

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Greetings! First an introduction, I'm Paul Grangaard, President & CEO of Allen Edmonds. Let me address some of your comments. The new owners of the company, as of June 2006, have unfailing respect for the Allen Edmonds brand and our reputation for terrific quality. They've encouraged us to focus on taking our quality assurance to an even higher level, and we've set a strategic imperative for 2009 of doing just that. Rarely over the years, the company has changed things in an effort to improve look or feel and not succeeded. An example was our move to a black insole from our traditional oak version. The initial black insole was a slightly different material that some felt took time to break in. We changed it to a more pliable version in response. The other instance during the past couple of years was our new 00 last. The balmoral styles on that last can be tight for a high-instep foot (the bluchers work better for that foot-type) and the toplines around the ankle of those styles have tended to become wavy after time in the box or on display in stores without shoe trees. We've re-designed that part of the last to deal with both issues.

I'm glad to read that you're giving the Strand a try. The Strand is one of my personal favorite styles. We recently re-introduced the Strand, the McAllister, the Manchester and the Fifth Avenue as Timeless Classics. In honor of the many customers whose requests inspired our move, and in response to the tough economy, we also decided to bring them back at a 'timeless price' of $279. Sales beyond our highest expectations indicate that we struck a chord. Look for a couple more of our best styles from past years to be introduced in the summer.

I appreciate your feedback and hope my jumping in here doesn't stifle further candor. We only get better when we know what our customers are truly thinking. Thanks!
 

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Greetings! First an introduction, I'm Paul Grangaard, President & CEO of Allen Edmonds. Let me address some of your comments. The new owners of the company, as of June 2006, have unfailing respect for the Allen Edmonds brand and our reputation for terrific quality. They've encouraged us to focus on taking our quality assurance to an even higher level, and we've set a strategic imperative for 2009 of doing just that. Rarely over the years, the company has changed things in an effort to improve look or feel and not succeeded. An example was our move to a black insole from our traditional oak version. The initial black insole was a slightly different material that some felt took time to break in. We changed it to a more pliable version in response. The other instance during the past couple of years was our new 00 last. The balmoral styles on that last can be tight for a high-instep foot (the bluchers work better for that foot-type) and the toplines around the ankle of those styles have tended to become wavy after time in the box or on display in stores without shoe trees. We've re-designed that part of the last to deal with both issues.

I'm glad to read that you're giving the Strand a try. The Strand is one of my personal favorite styles. We recently re-introduced the Strand, the McAllister, the Manchester and the Fifth Avenue as Timeless Classics. In honor of the many customers whose requests inspired our move, and in response to the tough economy, we also decided to bring them back at a 'timeless price' of $279. Sales beyond our highest expectations indicate that we struck a chord. Look for a couple more of our best styles from past years to be introduced in the summer.

I appreciate your feedback and hope my jumping in here doesn't stifle further candor. We only get better when we know what our customers are truly thinking. Thanks!
Well then I am going to give you a piece of my mind. Thanks for cutting the price on your recrafting. I truly appreciate that. I love your shoes.
 

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Greetings! First an introduction, I'm Paul Grangaard, President & CEO of Allen Edmonds. Let me address some of your comments. The new owners of the company, as of June 2006, have unfailing respect for the Allen Edmonds brand and our reputation for terrific quality. They've encouraged us to focus on taking our quality assurance to an even higher level, and we've set a strategic imperative for 2009 of doing just that. Rarely over the years, the company has changed things in an effort to improve look or feel and not succeeded. An example was our move to a black insole from our traditional oak version. The initial black insole was a slightly different material that some felt took time to break in. We changed it to a more pliable version in response. The other instance during the past couple of years was our new 00 last. The balmoral styles on that last can be tight for a high-instep foot (the bluchers work better for that foot-type) and the toplines around the ankle of those styles have tended to become wavy after time in the box or on display in stores without shoe trees. We've re-designed that part of the last to deal with both issues.

I'm glad to read that you're giving the Strand a try. The Strand is one of my personal favorite styles. We recently re-introduced the Strand, the McAllister, the Manchester and the Fifth Avenue as Timeless Classics. In honor of the many customers whose requests inspired our move, and in response to the tough economy, we also decided to bring them back at a 'timeless price' of $279. Sales beyond our highest expectations indicate that we struck a chord. Look for a couple more of our best styles from past years to be introduced in the summer.

I appreciate your feedback and hope my jumping in here doesn't stifle further candor. We only get better when we know what our customers are truly thinking. Thanks!
Paul,

Thanks for the informative first post. I own about 40 pairs of Allen Edmonds and love the fact that they are quality, American made products.

I think the timeless classics re-introduction was a great way to recenter and refocus your company on its key customer base and I am looking forward to the summer additions you hinted at.
Any chance of a BROWN/TAN & white balmoral spectator being issued in the summer?

Also, do you have any plans to reintroduce your classic balmoral captoe boots for the fall/winter? I know that those would be extremely popular with the members here.
 

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Thanks for your reactions. We are in fact working to re-center the company (a great way to put it - thanks). I came over here last August after being on the board for 2 years. I was concerned that we had been taking our styling away from our core and leaving many dedicated customers off to the side. The Timeless Classics are the first step in re-energizing our great customer base. I can't wait for you to see what we have in store for the rest of 2009. The shoe by my profile is the Presidio, one of a new line of dress welts that will have a highest quality rubber sole made by St. Moritz. They're on a new last with a bit of a bump on the toe that is classic American with a touch of Euro flair. They'll be intro'd at Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale. We also will come out with new rugged casual shoes, including a great boot (because you asked). It'll have a mocc-toe, though, not a cap toe. We'll look to that in another season.

The ae Crosstown Collection is primarily for the first-time Allen Edmonds buyer - with younger styling at a lower price. Still, they've only been out for a few weeks and already we've had a number of long time customers buy a pair (particularly the Georgetown penny) for evenings and weekends. They're incredibly light and comfortable. Careful on the sizing - they run long and many guys, especially sizes 10 and up, are buying them down a half size.

As for joining this thread...I'm having fun. I appreciate the feedback.

P.S. By the way, our heels have not changed. We use the same rubber AE heel on our dress welts in calfskin for years and years. Our cordovan shoes have the leather heel with the rubber slice on the outside back, but only the cordovans. Maybe that's the difference cited in a previous entry...
 

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Thanks for your reactions. We are in fact working to re-center the company (a great way to put it - thanks). I came over here last August after being on the board for 2 years. I was concerned that we had been taking our styling away from our core and leaving many dedicated customers off to the side. The Timeless Classics are the first step in re-energizing our great customer base. I can't wait for you to see what we have in store for the rest of 2009. The shoe by my profile is the Presidio, one of a new line of dress welts that will have a highest quality rubber sole made by St. Moritz. They're on a new last with a bit of a bump on the toe that is classic American with a touch of Euro flair. They'll be intro'd at Nordstrom's Anniversary Sale. We also will come out with new rugged casual shoes, including a great boot (because you asked). It'll have a mocc-toe, though, not a cap toe. We'll look to that in another season.

The ae Crosstown Collection is primarily for the first-time Allen Edmonds buyer - with younger styling at a lower price. Still, they've only been out for a few weeks and already we've had a number of long time customers buy a pair (particularly the Georgetown penny) for evenings and weekends. They're incredibly light and comfortable. Careful on the sizing - they run long and many guys, especially sizes 10 and up, are buying them down a half size.

As for joining this thread...I'm having fun. I appreciate the feedback.

P.S. By the way, our heels have not changed. We use the same rubber AE heel on our dress welts in calfskin for years and years. Our cordovan shoes have the leather heel with the rubber slice on the outside back, but only the cordovans. Maybe that's the difference cited in a previous entry...
Ok. We are all for the recentering. So if you poked around a bit, you know most (many) of the folks on board here think rubber soles are anethema. I am one for sure. The Presidio pictured by your profile has a very nice look--I wanted to run out and buy it. What are you going to do for those of us who have been there and done that with the rubber soles. I just sent my second pair back to be recrafted leather, but I won't buy rubber soles today.
 

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I meant to address a couple other questions/comments. The recrafting promotion right now is our attempt to say thanks and offer something of value during this tough economy to as many of our longtime customers as possible. It was the brainchild of our new head of marketing - a great guy with a lot of experience you can see as our website develops further.

We do have a terrific brown and white spectator for you this summer. I've got a sample of them in my office. It's in the BelAir style. Here's the link to a photo. If you prefer it in another style (the McAllister or McClain) we'd be happy to make it for you.

=
 

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Anathema

The Timeless Classics are all leather bottomed shoes. We have other new styles coming out on the leather bottom models as well. We remain completely committed to staying classic and also brining out new styles with leather. The Executive rubber bottom is worthy of your consideration when it comes out, though. It's a far far cry from the competition's typical rubber or even our Crosstown version. We needed to compete in rubber bottoms - people devoted to leather are fewer all the time, Still, the Executives are classic dress shoes and you won't be able to tell the bottom isn't leather unless you hold it up close. The look will be the same. I prefer leather too, though. I'm not trying to convert you, just let you know that I think you'll be impressed by these shoes.

Cheers.
 

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I really like the timeless collection; I have a pair of Fifth Ave. in black on order through Harry Rosen (I'm in Canada). I had to order through them to avoid the duty and terrible exchange rate.

Nevertheless, once I get them and am satisfied--as I am sure I will be--I'll be getting a pair of Sohos or Weybridges.

Luckily there is still plenty of snow and salt here so I can't wear them yet anyways, doesn't make the waiting any easier though.
 
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