Open Question: Why Alden?

This isn’t a critique. This isn’t a judgment. This isn’t even a “you coulda done better with your money.” This is a simple question that, I feel, comes up when the issue of “top-quality” footwear arises. 

Granted, I buy a LOT, a LOT, of Quoddy. Why? Because I think $250 for a pair of hand-crafted boatshoes that look fuckin phenomenal on me  is worht it one to two times a year. Sure, I have a standard set or 8 of Sperrys and Bass and Sebagos, but there’s something about those hand-stitched Maine creations that just does it for me. However, one brand has always eluded my financial and therefore practical radar ever since I started in on the blogging menswear whathaveyou endeavor: What is the allure of Alden?

I was first introduced to Alden, I admit, through J. Crew. This pair in particular:

ALDEN® FOR J.CREW CAP TOE CORDOVAN BOOTS. So nice, right?

I mean, look at these boots. They are as pretty as a Venetian sunrise on the forehead of a power-celeb-couple newborn sitting atop a mountain of unicorn glitter on the solstice of the season of the queen of ice cream sundaes. But then, there’s the ice-cold shock of the $645 price-tag. And maybe these are marked up due to Drexler deeming them “cool enough,” but any online search, not exclusing eBay, is gonna yield roughly, ROUGHLY, the same pricepoints.

Okay, so here’s another thing: I know plenty of people with these shoes. And they SWEAR by them. “Best shoes ever,” I hear time and time again. I say that too. But usually it’s dealing with a $40 set of Vans or a $90 eBay Quoddy score, and never a $600 pickup. Granted, I’ve been able to hunt and gather some Aldens of my own, but I don’t count them.

I want to posit an honest, unsolicited, unbiased, and completely curious (as I feel plenty of people reading might have the same question) inquiry.

So here’s the question I want only those who have dropped the money to own a pair of Alden’s to answer; Is it worth it? And if so, why? If not, why not? 

Comment and let us know.

Thanks -

WGP

8 Comments

  1. Great question! It comes down to fit, style and perception. I have a tough time getting a good fit in Aldens (although I have some). I have an easier time in Allen Edmonds, some of whose shoes are every bit as high quality. And, I have several pair from Loake in England; great fit (for me), great quality. So, to paraphrase that old saying, “If the shoe fits AND if you think it looks awesome AND you can afford it, wear it”.

  2. I have a decent sized collection of Aldens (about 20 pair of various shoes and boots) and for me it is the combination of style, comfort, durability, and service. My oldest pair is about six years old and has probably been worn an average of three times a week over that period (in all sorts of weather and conditions) and still looks brand new with minimal work on my end.

    I know a lot of folks complain about the boxy style of most Alden shoes, but as somebody who leans towards the trad side of things, that fits my style perfectly.

  3. I think Gordo’s paraphrase is right on. The quality of Alden’s is top notch, the resoling feature ensures if you love them, you can continue to love them for practically decades. Those I know who own them, do love them.

  4. I was in the exact same boat as you back in fall/winter 2010. I fell in love via j. crew with their long wing bluchers in the tobacco color. I begged and begged and begged and finally talked my wife into letting me get them with my christmas bonus money. She still thinks that $500 for a pair of shoes is ridiculous but that’s beside the point.

    Every time I put them on I think to myself, this is the best clothing purchase i’ve ever made. No matter what the outfit when I slap them on I feel like a million bucks. Not to sound cliche but when a purhcase does that for you, your up front cost really is minimized as well as the more you wear them your cost is minimized. I wear mine once/week and keep shoe trees in them.

    I love the pair you are looking at as well as the indy boots. I don’t know if you’ve done any research on Alden but they actually got their start as an orthopedic shoe company since the practice of foot doctors was very rare when they started. I notice a tremendous difference in my lower back discomfort when I wear these vs a “cheap” $100 pair. I hope this helps but I read your post and laughed at how similar our two situations are with regards to Alden. Just beware, once you buy you’re first brand new pair you’re opening up a can. :) Now I find myself trying to skeem ways of getting another pair. Make the purchase and never look back.

    Regards,
    Dane

  5. Will, It is definitely worth the money. I have two pair of Alden shoes. A pair of black cap toe dress shoes that my father bought some 20 years ago and the Alden Indie boot, which – admittedly – I caved on compliments of the very Drexler referenced herein. See you Monday. David Weinrot.

    • David –

      Very excited to meet you tomorrow! I hear what you’re saying about the Indie Boot. I am in love with that model more than I think I might be in love with a perfect slice of pizza.

      Once I have a little more liquidity, I might just have to bite the bullet, pick up a pair and not eat for a bit.

      Cheers!

  6. I got my high-end footwear started a looong time ago with a pair of Edward Green cap toes. I wore the shit out of them, loved them with most outfits and bought another pair and did the same with them. Sadly, I lost my hook up and can no longer afford them. As I have a thing for a rounder toe shoe that works with denim and flannel, Alden is the best. I have 3 pairs, a boot, bought at Leffot, the classic cordovan longwing bought at Alden in NYC, and a pair of Brooks Brothers tassel loafers. I wear them all of the time, and they all look almost brand new. In fact they wear MUCH better than the Greens. They take a long time to break in, but once you get them nice and worn in to your foot, they are the most comfortable shoe. A couple of tips: ALden makes a trillion different lasts, go to a store with a great selection and try different ones on for the best fit; once bought, bring them to the office and wear them around for a few hours a day or so, get them broken in a little before you spend all day in them; and last, beat the crap out of them, get them cleaned and polished and repeat!

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