Thursday, February 23, 2012

While our company and much of the American economy has recovered from the depths of the Great Recession of 2008-09, millions of people around the world still struggle without the basic necessities of life.  For the past few years, we've been pleased to partner with Soles4Souls®, an international charitable organization that collects footwear to distribute to the estimated 300 million children and 1.5 million adults across the world who are without a single pair of shoes.  To date, Allen Edmonds and its customers have donated over 16,000 pairs of shoes to the crucial Soles4Souls mission.  We are also proud to say that we have sent Allen Edmonds representatives to both Haiti and Africa to help distribute shoes to victims of natural disasters, war and extreme poverty who have no protection for their feet.

But 16,000 pairs is just a beginning for us, and we're eager to do more together.  From February 21st through March 4th, our customers and friends can donate ANY brand of “gently worn” men’s, women’s or children’s shoes at any Allen Edmonds store, as well as any of our participating AE dealers (for a list of participating dealers and our own stores, click here).  As a thank you, you’ll receive a $35 discount off your same day shoe purchase of Allen Edmonds business or casual shoes.  There is no purchase necessary, so it's a worthy reason to start your spring cleaning a bit early this year and clean your closet of some unneeded shoes.  If you would like to make your donation online, we are adopting a pay-it-forward "Honor Code” concept this year.  Simply enter the word “honor” in a promotion code box at checkout to recieve the $35 thank you discount.  When shipped, your order will contain a pre-paid shipping label and instructional card for you to send back gently worn shoes directly to the Soles4Souls distribution facility.

Thanks very much for your support of Allen Edmonds, and of our efforts with Soles4Souls® to help those in need.
Warm regards,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Thursday, February 16, 2012

While some people may be bogged down by the Mayan calendar, 2012 for all of us at Allen Edmonds brings a great celebration as we mark our company’s 90th Anniversary.   Yes, for 90 years non-stop – in direct contrast to prevailing industry trends toward off-shoring – our shoemakers have been making men’s shoes right here in the U.S.A.!

We’ve planned several exciting ways throughout the year to celebrate our 90th with our customers, employees, suppliers, communities and friends.  The first event in the line-up is a Shoe Design Competition among some of the best design students in the world.

Specifically, to honor our Made in USA heritage and support design education, we’ve partnered with the premier American art and design school – The Parsons New School for Design in New York City – and challenged students there to reinterpret today’s classic American men’s street shoe.  Other than explaining our 90 year history and our great American heritage, we encouraged them to be as creative with style, materials, textures and details as they wanted to be.  We’re offering three scholarship prizes to the winners of the contest, so we’ve had amazing participation among the student body.  And “fun” doesn’t do enough justice to the invigorating experience we’ve had working with the passionate students and their leadership at Parsons!

Now, here’s where we could really use your insight and participation…  The six designs that made the cut into the semi-finals are online now and waiting for your vote!   Please go to our voting page at to pick your favorites among the six.  On March 1st, we’ll tally the votes and along with an expert panel of judges -- including Nick Sullivan the men’s fashion guru of Esquire Magazine, Simon Collins, the Dean of The School of Fashion at Parsons, and Noel Traum our own young shoe designer who graduated from the Milwaukee School of Fine Arts – we’ll narrow the field down to three finalists.  Those three finalists will work with our shoe craftspeople to turn their designs into actual prototypes.  The prototypes will again be on-line for your final voting starting March 26th with a winner selected during the first week of May.

 All three finalists will be featured at the big Parsons Fashion Benefit on May 1st and we’re very much looking forward to that evening.  In addition to the individual scholarships, we plan to feature the winning shoe design as part of our line next season and to make a donation to Parsons to help students in financial need.

Please join me in voting for your favorite designs before the end of the month, and watch the styles move from idea, to CAD drawing to prototype over the next few weeks.  Your input will be key to the contest’s success, so thanks very much!

Best wishes,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Friday, February 3, 2012

At Allen Edmonds, we’re as deeply committed to providing superior customer service as we are to manufacturing superior products. No place is the combination more evident than in our Recrafting service, where each year we make about 60,000 pairs of shoes look nearly brand new, for a fraction of the cost of a new pair. “Planned obsolescence” is something we definitely don’t believe in here, obviously.

I’m often asked two questions by astute businessmen: 1) How can you sell enough new shoes to survive when you do such a great job Recrafting worn-out AE shoes? and 2) Is Recrafting profitable?

The answer to the first question is that we have to stay on top of our game in both casual and dress shoe product development, so that we inspire our core customers to wear Allen Edmonds all week long, including weekends, and so that we grow our market share significantly with a broader swath of American men. We believe no other shoe company offers the quality and value formula that we do – we just need more men to realize what a great investment AEs are compared to the disposable offshore alternatives that last only a year or two. Recrafting is a huge part of that value formula. We calculate that a man can save hundreds of dollars over a 15 year period by buying a pair of AEs that last all 15 years (including Recrafting), compared to continually buying less expensive competitor shoes that last a couple of years. If you somehow add value for the aesthetics of styling, comfort and elite leather quality into the equation, it’s an even wider advantage and smarter investment.

The answer to the second question is “not so much.” We Recraft because of our commitment to superior customer service. It’s much easier and more efficient to make new shoes. Below is a link to a video of the Recrafting process. You’ll notice that there isn’t much leather around sides of the shoe to work with, once the old sole and the welt strip have been sliced off. When we make a new shoe, the sides of the upper extend down half an inch more and the excess needs to be trimmed. In Recrafting, we’re working with the bare minimum extension of the shoe upper as we attach the new welt and sole. If the shoe has been Recrafted before, that part of the shoe might have hundreds of stitching holes in it, weakening the leather. So, the degree of difficulty in Recrafting is quite high to get to that “like brand new” look, comfort and durability.

We last raised prices for our Recrafting service in 2001. That’s right, over a decade ago. Costs of soles and labor, not to mention shipping, have risen significantly since then and we now need to raise prices for Recrafting roughly $25 per service level. We’re also introducing price increases in our new shoes for the first time since 2006. In our commitment to Premium Value in all that we do, these increases have been kept to a minimum. We know men are still watching their family budgets in this economy and we want to remain – or become – their “go to” shoe company, now and for their entire lives, so we’ve held the increases (effective February 1) in check.

60,000 Recrafted shoes is a lot of customer service commitment. We’re proud of that commitment at Allen Edmonds, but we’re most proud of the men who choose to take advantage of it. Having customers want to renew the same product for years and years is the best testimonial of all. If you like your AEs that much, please tell a friend, a son, a colleague or just some random guy on the airplane (I’m writing this blog on the plane and you should see the shoes the guy next to me is wearing!)…

Thanks for your support,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation