Thursday, February 18, 2010

Spring is always an exciting time of year. After the sports pages have covered the Winter Olympics, enthusiasts and columnists will quickly turn again to baseball and spring training. Even in the depths of the Snow Belt, February and March usually bring a few days of sunshine when rubber-coated baseballs and trusty mitts are brought out, only to be returned to the closet when the proverbial March Lion roars again.

Spring this year is especially exciting at Allen Edmonds. We have a talented line-up of new shoes just now hitting the stores. Here are a few highlights:

As mentioned in my last blog, it’s the PARK AVENUE’S 30th Anniversary as The Great American Business Shoe. The new walnut pebble grain P.A. responds to the current movement to “Authentic Americana” (as Newsweek called the new fashion trend). Now the P.A. not only looks great in black calfskin with a dark suit, it also looks fantastic with jeans or khakis in walnut grain.

The early results in our retail stores tell us that we’ve once again connected with our loyal customers with the re-introduction of two additional Timeless Classics – the BENTON and the WALTON. The WALTON, with its double oak sole retro-profile, seems especially exciting to new and younger customers given the fashion momentum toward authentic and classic Americana. In the same vein, the MACNEIL long wingtip has become more versatile in its new navy, walnut and burgundy leathers. The LOMBARD is a blucher wingtip on the tasteful Executive Collection rubber sole.

The younger man’s “look” in business casual settings or at social gatherings today is an untucked white shirt with a patterned inside collar and cuffs, a pair of dark blue jeans and a pair of brown or walnut WALTONs, MACNEIL s, LOMBARDs or STRANDs. To see why, try our new pants comparison feature on our website with the STRAND.
The CHARLESTON, AUGUSTA, BOSTON and WESTCHESTER offer fresh new takes on some classic leather-bottom silhouettes – a mocc toe, a medallioned balmoral, a monk strap and a classic penny loafer.

To our collection of Italian-made shoes, we’ve added a couple new winners. The FIRENZE is a comfort-first, rubber-soled slip-on with a bit more fashion-forward toe shape and the RIMINI is a penny with that sleek, thin Italian leather sole and superb ultra-soft leather. Both are perfect under khakis or other lightweight pants in spring and summer, with socks or without.

Finally, take a look at a couple new Weekend Collection shoes. The WINTHROP is an incredibly supple but durable driving moccasin that we’ll put up against any in the field in terms of leather quality and construction. And the BOULDER Venetian slip-on promises to be the power-hitter of this roster. It has a thicker drop-in sole with ergonomic cushioning built into the sole’s interesting pattern. The BOULDER’s mudguard rim with the sole’s side extensions, plus the water repellant leather treatment we’ve added, make this the perfect transition shoe – it’s great in spring but also fully capable to handle winter’s last roar.

Lots to like this year….

Best wishes,

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

This year, Allen Edmonds’ all-star performer, the Park Avenue, celebrates its 30th Anniversary as The Great American Shoe for Business. Our company couldn’t be more proud. After 30 years in the marketplace, the Park Avenue still remains our #1 selling style. Thirty years at the top of any “bestseller” list is an incredible accomplishment. From coast-to-coast and in business centers around the world, men heading to board meetings, C-suites, corner offices, important client calls, closing courtroom arguments and the first day on the new job have been trusting the Park Avenue to help make the right impression.

Sometimes 1980 seems like just yesterday, at least until I realize what was going on in 1980. Jimmy Carter was finishing his last year in office, Americans were still held hostage in Iran, the U.S. boycotted the Moscow Summer Olympics, CNN went on the air to revolutionize television, Christopher Cross cleaned up at the Grammy Awards, Ordinary People won Best Picture, and Al Michaels asked and immediately answered that unforgettable question, “Do you believe in miracles? Yes!” as a bunch of young bucks from Minnesota, Wisconsin and Massachusetts beat the great Soviet hockey juggernaut at Lake Placid.

I began my business career in 1980 and I can’t tell you how many pairs of Park Avenues I’ve seen on impressive leaders in all walks of life over the many years. Although we fell short in January 2009, Park Avenues had been on the feet of every President since Ronald Reagan when taking the Oath of Office. In my first few months on-the-job here at AE, other heads of state ordered up Made in USA Park Avenues before meeting their cohorts. The next time you see a photo of global leaders lined-up for a photo opp at a summit meeting, take a look at their shoes and notice the Park Avenues.

The Park Avenue has set the standard for long-lasting quality across the shoe industry. Many a man still has the first pair of Park Avenues he ever owned and they’re still in good shape. They may have been recrafted a couple or even several times, but they’re as sturdy, comfortable, tasteful and impressive as ever.

In celebration of 30 great years and to help the next generation of Park Avenues last well into the middle of the 21st Century, until March 12th 2010, we’re offering a free pair of commemorative shoe trees to absorb harmful moisture and help the shoes hold their shape for many years to come. If you don’t have a pair of these shoes, they belong in your collection in black, burnished brown or maybe the very versatile walnut pebble grain appearing beneath jeans as often as blue suits these days. That’s the nature of classics -- they speak to succeeding generations in both familiar and new ways.

Happy Birthday, P.A.!

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation