Monday, November 9, 2009

I remember that cold day in 1980. I was trainee in Chicago just a few months out of college and standing crammed in an over-crowded #22 Clark Street bus, wearing my winter coat, sweating through my shirt as the malfunctioning heater blasted hot stale air, with the predictable bus-ride headache brewing. My attention turned to the center column of my Wall Street Journal, which back then was where they ran eclectic human interest stories. It was the only page I could get to without elbowing the four people crushed around me.

The article was about how men should dress for work. Owning only a couple of “entry level” suits, five permanent-press shirts, a totally business-inappropriate plaid sport coat that I nonetheless wore once a week, and a pair of really bad dress shoes that I wore every day, I was sorely in need of the advice. “Dress for the job you want, not the one you have” was the main message. A sub-message was to avoid pale green ties that reflect an unhealthy pallor onto your face (I remember that part specifically because I was starting to feel like I could achieve the pallor without the tie). It was just after that ride that I invested in some cotton shirts and decent dress shoes like I had seen on the feet of the Vice Presidents around the office. And I stopped wearing that sport coat – not just to work, but to anywhere.

Fast forward sixteen years: I was now in charge of a department and a good man was in my office gunning for a promotion that was a stretch for him. We were in the advice-giving business where appearance matters when you’re trying to win clients’ trust. He obviously hadn’t read that WSJ article and nobody had ever said anything to him about his misfit wardrobe. It’s always hard to give dress advice in work settings, yet it’s sometimes the difference between deserved success and not-so-much. I finally decided to tell him he needed to invest in higher quality attire if he wanted a better chance at the job. He did invest – that same week – and sometime later he got the promotion he wanted. What’s more, when I spoke to him about his attire, he thanked me for being so candid and unexpectedly helpful.

Why is it that so many guys will invest maybe $1000-2000 for an impressive tailored suit, shirt and tie…and then finish it off with, well, really bad shoes? You’ve seen them, I’ve seen them, all over the country. Yet, their role models have usually figured out that good shoes complete the impressive look. If you’re a boss or mentor to somebody in cheap-looking shoes, maybe it’s time for some candid and helpful career advice.

Best wishes,

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Friday, November 6, 2009

The calendar has turned to November now. Around the country, the various versions of winter weather are about to move in with unstoppable determination. That obviously means hidden puddles of water in most regions and, across the Snow Belt, it means that enemy of good leather – street salt. At Allen Edmonds, we’re passionate about the health of your footwear. We believe that we’re the largest shoe cobbler in the world: Recrafting™ some 50,000 pairs of shoes a year! And we make our fine shoes to last for years, not just several months.

This November we’re introducing two new ways to battle the salt, puddles and slush. First, we’ve introduced the new EXECUTIVE COLLECTION shoes –absolutely top quality dress shoes with a cushioned footbed and impressively tasteful rubber out-sole. Unless you turn your shoes upside down and look closely, you can’t tell that these soles are rubber. But they stay dry and help keep the salt lines away like rubber should, and the cushioning inside gives them “out of the box” comfort. Here are pictures of the Van Ness and the Lombard from the Collection, just fantastic dress shoes. For the man who wants to protect his shoes from the elements, or who just prefers the extra cushioning, the EXECUTIVE COLLECTION is the right choice for sharp-looking attire.

Our second winter offering is a brand new kind of galoshes called SWIMS™. I was up in Toronto last winter (Canadians know a lot about winter) and discovered SWIMS™ in a shoe store there. Made by a Norwegian company (Norway does winter, too), these are the best shoe coverings you’ve ever encountered. Unlike other rubbers that leave a dull residue on your shoes, SWIMS™ are lined with a soft material that actually buffs your shoe while you walk. They’re more sturdy and long-lasting than other products. And they come in different colors if you want to brighten up a grey day. We started carrying SWIMS™ in our New York and Chicago stores in early October and sold out of our initial supply in just a few days!

Winter is a great season; at least I’ve always thought so as a die-hard Minnesotan. My native-Texan wife and I disagree about the virtues of walking on frozen lakes (she clearly doesn’t think I walk on water) or slipping out-of-control on snow (aka “skiing”), but she now agrees that winter has its own charms. You just have to be prepared.

Stay dry,

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO