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One Step below Allen Edmonds, Alden, etc. ?

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    One Step below Allen Edmonds, Alden, etc. ?

    Didn't want to thread jack lgloeckner's "Looking for my first wingtips" thread. I think he raises a good point- not everyone wants to or can buy a pair of AE's, even on sale. I understand those shoes can last you 10+ years with resoling and they are worth it. I have some AE Lombards and love them. What I would like to know:

    If you take a step down from AE/Alden and the like, where are you? Florsheim Imperial? Johnston & Murphy? Any brands left with consistent quality?

    Aesthetics aside, what are the construction differences? IE, I am still looking for a leather lining, fully-welted construction, calf skin uppers, etc. For example (I know it's Blucher vs Balmoral):

    Florsheim Chatom, $180, $144 w/ LINK20

    AE Park Avenue, $325, sometimes on sale for $260 (20% off)

    The Park Avenue is amazing, and made in the US and the Chatom is made in India. But what else makes the Park Avenue cost almost 2X as much?

    Sometimes I think having a pair of shoes now is better than waiting longer to save for the best pair (I understand I could spend more than AE as well!). In my case, it's not my first wingtips but my first burgundy dress shoe. I don't know how much I will wear it so I don't want to spend a ton and regret it. I read all sorts of things on other forums, and sometimes I think people there like to debate theories / minutiae.

    My Measurements: 6' 1" height, 35" sleeves, 41-42" chest/jacket, 35" waist, 34" inseam, 11.5D/EEE shoes, 200 lbs


    Obviously, for the same reasons, I'm curious about the thoughts here. I definitely have read how great AE's are. For a shoe type that's new to me (in my case, wingtips), I'd rather start slow and then buy the AE's when I'm convinced it will be a shoe type that I wear often. But I'm not sure what tier is below AE's. So I'm definitely interested in seeing where this thread goes.



      if your price range is anywhere from 50-150, u can find AEs on eBay all the time. Great condition on a lot of them. I've purchased two thus far from there.

      Besides AE's, lower price range could consist of Floorsheims, J&M's, Too Boot New York, Gordon Rush.



        Florsheim, j&m, and Cole Haan... I know some are down on Cole Haan but I love the pair I've got. There's some British brands I'd consider a step down in quality from AE and Alden, but they're not a step down in price.




          Allen Edmonds are machine stitched, built around a last, Goodyear welted, and recraftable. The quality of the leather is also better than Florsheim, Johnston & Murphy, and etc.

          The next tier down are built using glue rather than stitching. The rubber sole is glued (fused) to the upper. The uppers are mass-produced by a machine rather than machine stitched (supervised, individual stitching). They use generic sizes rather than lasts, so there's no guarantee that they'll feel comfortable on your foot. They're also not welted so it's not as easy to put a new sole on them.

          Cole Haan falls into the category of glued shoes. They may look good, but they're just not built to last (pun intended).

          It's quite possible to find a pair of Allen Edmonds in the same price range. I purchased my Strands for $120, and my Fifth Avenues and McAllisters for ~$220 directly from Allen Edmonds.



            I too dream of AE's but I have three pairs of florsheims and I really like them. I have the lexington in the wingtip and the perforated toe cap model. Got them both for about 90, and they can be had for less with the 20% off. I bought the toe cap in 2006. Didn't wear them much for awhile but they have been my day to day work shoe for about a year now and they have held up great.

            They obviously aren't the best quality and I am interested to see how long they last. Also, they are king of close to that plasticy/crappy leather look but I get them shined when I can and get a lot of compliments on them. for 80-100 bucks I don't think you can go wrong. Even when I get some AEs I will probably keep buying florsheims for a more day to day shoe



              ...and make everything a day-to-day-after-next shoe, at most, no matter what you get.



                Many of the florsheims are also Goodyear welted using quality leather. Not all though.



                  I've had mixed experiences with Johnston & Murphy, which is often described as the next step down from AE. I have one pair of JMs that I absolutely love (suede bucks) and one pair that I wish I had never bought (Melton oxfords). The suede bucks are comfortable, sleek, and high-quality, while the Meltons are stiff, plasticky, and feel cheap despite their rather steep retail price. I thought perhaps they would break in so I've worn them a bit, but they still feel as stiff and plasticky as ever. I dearly wish I could return them but you know how it goes with worn shoes.

                  My advice when it comes to the <AE brands is to make an effort to see the shoes in person before you commit to purchase. Not all shoes from the same brand are created equally, and there are undoubtedly some high quality shoes made by JM, Florsheim, etc., but they also put out some serious duds every once in a while.

                  Don't forget to stop by your local thrift shops once a week or so. You might be able to find a pair of awesome shoes for $10. I live in a college/mountain town where nobody wears nice shoes ever, and even I have spotted a few pairs of AEs go by, and even bought a pair of vintage wingtips.




                    I think @bruschetta nailed the answer. let me just echo checking Ebay. I've gotten a few pairs of AE far below retail. I always see AE's and the like up for sale. I especially love my Park Avenues.



                      Florsheim's Imperial are their higher quality shoes, and are welted (at least the Kenmores I got were; pretty sure they all are). You can get loads of vintage imperials on eBay.



                        Thanks for the feedback everyone, I guess I wanted to see if there was a hidden gem among other brands. The way that Florsheim describes their Imperial line, I thought they are welted/stitched and not glued, so for $144, they seemed like a good deal.

                        I agree about eBay but despite some coaching in the eBay thread (thanks everyone, esp bruschetta) I feel I still don't know what to look for in a used shoe. At least not enough to spend near sale prices ($125+) for something worn in with someone's gait / wear on the soles. I have also found found many shoes not listed properly (listed as cordovan, when AE never made that style in cordovan). Buying a used lemon when I could get something new at the same price would be irritating.

                        My Measurements: 6' 1" height, 35" sleeves, 41-42" chest/jacket, 35" waist, 34" inseam, 11.5D/EEE shoes, 200 lbs



                          Cordovan is also a color, so it's not necessarily mislabeled



                            Yacko, AE was having a sale on discontinued factory seconds - two for $200 this past week. I don't know if they're still doing that, but it might be worth giving them a call.



                              My main dress shoes are a pair of Florsheim Cap toes that I have had for probably 14 years now. A few thoughts

                              1. I think they were made in India at the time, but I don't know how they compare to current production.

                              2. The have worn pretty well, but right now I only wear them 3 days a week, and for several years, I didn't wear them at all (grad school).

                              3. The real weak point seems to be the leather, which has cracked pretty badly, though I wasn't always good about keeping them polished.

                              Bottom line, I think they are decent shoes. I am in the market, but not in a hurry. Will probably buy AEs the next time they have their big sale, as I like the idea of a more or less lifetime pair. I happened to look at a few shoes at the Mall the other night (was there anyway) and I didn't care for the look of any of the J&M or Cole Haan's they had (though the selection was small).