Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"I Like Sole -- With a Capital S" (Apologies to the soul band, Tower of Power)

With men upgrading their footwear more and more, new aspects of shoes have become grist for the design statement mill.  Generations ago, the different shapes of shoemaking lasts were sculpted mostly to fit differently shaped feet -- i.e. high or low arches, long insteps or high insteps, long toes or short toes...  Somewhere along the way, differently shaped lasts -- offering choices of rounded toes, flat toes, square toes, extended toes, flat vamps, sloping vamps --  became a key design variable for the sake of a "look".

These days, it's the sole, the leather textures and colors, and the sidewall finishing that allow for new design statements.  Over the past three years, we've introduced several new styles with new combinations of “rough” or colored leathers, "toasted" sidewalls that show the lamination layers in the heels, colored welts and stitching, natural sidewalls that highlight the sole and heel as never before, and new variations of rubberized soles for winter wear that still look sleek and elegant.

Mojave Group

New this fall are a few sturdier soles that fit the shoes they're attached to incredibly well.  One of my favorites is the sole on the MOJAVE desert boot style.  This is an update on the shoe that many of us wore in the 1970s, only this version is made of very high quality leathers (buttery unlined suede or glove-like calfskin) and a crepe rubber sole that's like walking on an air cushion.  Accented by a natural double reverse welt all around the shoe, each of the leather choices is a unique look.  It's a perfect "kick around" jeans shoe.

Dainite Sole
Another great jeans, wool flannel and corduroy shoe for the fall and winter is our PINE RIVER.  This rugged double monk strap shoe is built on the same pattern as our very popular "MORA", only the leather used is saddle cowhide, not fine calfskin.  The Dainite sole is a new sole for us, one that I know men are going to gravitate to.  It's already very popular in B. Nelson Shoes – our favorite New York City shoe repair shop, run by our friend Nick Valenti -- as a replacement on still-new shoes.  It's a very sturdy rubber sole with a great traction design, but it's surprisingly lightweight.  The Dainite heel "top lift" allows us to put a distinctive-looking leather layer in between.  Check this one out.  It's one of our most subtly creative new shoes ever.  We're using the Dainite sole on the PROMONTORY POINT boot as well -- the perfect boot for a hike in the fallen leaves, for a day in the stands at a football game or just for raking the yard.

There are some other cool new soles on shoes this fall.  We designed a new walking sole that you can see on our already-popular VOYAGER style.  Our ROTHSAY casual boot uses a cream-colored harrier rubber sole with the traction-savvy wave pattern on it that's more of a hunter's look.  And our GUIDARE tasseled driving moccasins from Italy have a brand new sole on them, too -- a sole that feels like a true driving moccasin but also handles the weather all winter long.  You don't have to give up on durability now to get that driving moccasin feel.

Speaking of the MORA, it's back by popular demand as another of our new styles this fall.  We discontinued the first Mora edition a few years ago because, frankly, we didn't think we had the fit just right.  After quite a bit of pattern work and "fit trials" on a lot of feet, we felt the style was ready for an overdue comeback.  The MORA 2.0 is the result -- a very classy and unique statement shoe for the office or special nights out.

We take new product development very seriously at Allen Edmonds.  It's a never ending process for us.  I hope you like what we've come up with for Fall ’13!

Best wishes,


Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO
Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Stitch Above

A great thing about the record sales growth at Allen Edmonds since the “Great Recession” is that we have roughly doubled manufacturing employment at our Wisconsin factory.  When a new hire tells you, “This job is the difference between my daughter going to college and not going to college,” that’s a good feeling.  With new stores across the country, burgeoning online business and, most important, the amazing loyalty of our customers … our U.S. employment is now the highest it has been in our company’s 91 year history.

Just like with shoes, less than 2% of the apparel bought in the U.S. today was made in this country.  Since regaining our footing in 2010, our team’s long-term goal has been the evolution of Allen Edmonds into a broader men’s lifestyle brand.   We’ve believed that the values for which Allen Edmonds is renown – i.e. eye-catching handcrafted quality, superior customer service, an unrivaled price/value ratio, and a dogged determination to grow USA manufacturing – will be welcomed in clothing as well as shoes by busy men who desire those qualities across their entire wardrobes but have little time to search for them.

So, we’re proud to launch our curated collection of men’s clothing, including sport coats, vests, sweaters, shirts and pants. These are just the first of several waves of seasonal offerings going forward. Along with these products, we are also launching exciting collections of leather bags inspired by some of our top selling shoes, such as the Park Avenue, McTavish and Neumok, and a substantial broadening of our belts and small leather goods offerings. The clothing, belts and leather goods collections represent our continuing commitment to Made in USA and American employment growth. We’ve partnered with manufacturers across America – in Vermont, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, Minnesota, California, New York, Florida and, of course, Wisconsin to craft exquisite and timeless pieces right here – between the earth’s two largest oceans, not across them.

We’re also excited to premier our new brand identity. As we move forward with an expanded product line and broader vision, we needed to refresh our brand. That’s why we’re introducing a new crest featuring the year Allen Edmonds was founded, 1922.

The crest harkens to our strong heritage and our special authenticity as American designers and manufacturers. Through the passion and dedication of our people – customers and employees alike – we’re still here, standing for what we’ve always stood for. The cobbler’s hammer references our dedication to excellent craftsmanship and to our core identity as world-class men’s shoemakers. Placed dominantly in the center of the crest, the hammer signifies that Allen Edmonds will always lead with great shoes! Our tagline “An American Original” is a reflection of both our company and our customers, who are originals in the way they lead in their lives.

You can expect to see this renewed identity in everything we do. And you can expect more seasonal product offerings from Allen Edmonds as we continue to grow, at the product quality and service level that you’ve come to expect from us.

Thank you for your continued support.

Paul D. Grangaard
President & CEO

Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation