Alden Shoes and the Birth of American Traditional

Our man in Tokyo recently alerted us to this Japanese interview with Arthur Tarlow, president of Alden. In it Tarlow talks about how immigrant craftsmen from various European countries brought their own styles and techniques to the US, the confluence of which became a distinct style of shoemaking he calls “American Traditional.”

The video was produced by Beams+, “the best Americana outfitter in Japan,” according to our Tokyo contributor. For more on the retailer, see the recent post at A Continuous Lean. Beams also launched an English-language website earlier this month.

Alden makes a number of exclusive shoes for Beams+ (Beams Plus is the company’s Americana line), with cordovan models going for $1,000. — CC

7 Comments on "Alden Shoes and the Birth of American Traditional"

  1. Most Alden shoes have a serious style flaw: the sole protrudes too far out from the shoe. The sole should only protrude one eighth of an inch. Ask Sherman McCoy of THE BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES.

  2. Odd, I was just reading about Shuh-mun today for a future post.

    I don’t get the reference, though.

  3. Just a slight correction: Beams is a pretty diverse retail chain. Beams+ (beams plus) is the one that focuses on trad and Americana. (Although this season they have moved out of straight trad with the industry and moved into American worker chic.)

  4. Noted the plus sign in your email but didn’t see it on Beams’ website. Will fix story, and thanks.

  5. well done christian.
    shuhman -laughing….. just re read it-some of the elders here will remember when it was serialized in rolling stone ..admittedly my brother’s subscription. in my imagination shuhman wears more eurocentric double breasted uber glib suits and more continental shoes….

  6. As is typical for all but the very best Japanese subtitles, there are several mistranslations in the translations. (The funniest ones are when they translator gets the literal meaning, but fails to understand that the intonation makes it the opposite meaning–not seen here, but in quite a few movies).

    The subtitles also use numerous loan words that are, in general, harder for normal readers to process, but allegedly make the writer seem more erudite. Can you really call it erudition if it impedes communication?

    Anyway, it’s a nice video, and I hope Alden continues to be successful for many, many generations to come.

  7. Vern Trotter, that’s a welt. That’s how welted shoes are made, it’s not a flaw.

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