Allen Edmonds Releases 1940s Footage, Expands Cordovan, & Goes Global

Much is afoot, if you’ll pardon the pun, at Allen Edmonds these days. A few days ago the company released some fascinating footage on YouTube showing its factory in the 1940s.

I was able to speak with Allen Edmonds president Paul Grangaard recently while writing the cover story for the January issue of MR (Menswear Retailer). The story is on the ups and downs of being a domestic manufacturer, and during the interview Grangaard pointed out that over 90 percent of the shoes Americans wear are made either in India or China. It’s nice to see Allen Edmonds reversing this trade deficit: On November 29 it opened its first store outside the US — in Shanghai, China:

Finally, this fall the brand broadened its shell cordovan offerings to include the Patriot penny loafer (which we wrote about recently) as well as the Grayson tassel loafer, both priced at $595:

Here’s a video the company made about its cordovan production:

I’ll share my story when it comes out next month. I think it has quite a few interesting revelations about the pros and cons of being made in the US. — CHRISTIAN CHENSVOLD

9 Comments on "Allen Edmonds Releases 1940s Footage, Expands Cordovan, & Goes Global"

  1. A pair of cordovan shoes are worth saving for and purchasing. One of life’s gotta haves if you enjoy quality shoes.

  2. Orgastic future | December 11, 2012 at 1:51 am |

    I have about 6 pair of AE’s and absolutely love them!

  3. Andrew Yamato | December 11, 2012 at 11:15 am |

    Great posts today, Christian. The old (30s?) AE film is wonderful–the best “how it’s made” video I’ve seen from any shoemaker. Love the truly ridiculous stress-testing at the end.

    Interesting to note in the shell cordovan video that it’s kept long (i.e. full ass) throughout the tanning process; explains how the WWII era USMC “fair leather belts” could be made from a single piece of shell. Purists will probably insist that the connecting piece is of inferior grade, but I have one of those belts and see no inconsistency. Perhaps the pieced belts available today are assembled from scraps after shoe uppers are clicked? That would make sense economically…

  4. I like Allen Edmonds shoes but note that AE no longer offers shoes in A or AA width in any of it’s new interesting styles and that is a shame.

  5. AE makes a very well made shoe, but I’ve never owned any. Seems, when I’ve been in the market for a new pair of oxfords, all I could find where “square” toed AEs. I thought all their dress shoes were “square” toed. Thanks for the enlightenment, Christian.

  6. Darn that AE. They are my neighbors here in Wisconsin, but everything is on the damn 5 last. Narrow narrow narrow and looks funny on a wider foot with a low arch. Skinny jeans, skinny suits and now skinny shoes.

    Where is the 5 last when you need it?

  7. Ooops! Should have said where is the 4 last and others more accommodating of a wider foot?

  8. Wisco: For what it’s worth, I have good success buying the widths beyond D in the dress oxfords. Other than a bizarrely narrow last that the company offered last year — and promptly discontinued; I got my money back — the stuff I buy accomodates a wider foot. Decent toehold. I picked up a pair of Westchesters and before that a similar shoe, both on sale through Website, both good fits for the wider foot.

  9. Agapito Rivera | February 10, 2013 at 5:29 am |

    Can someone help me finding a shoe. They were called Princeton Cordovans. Wing tips, leather and the one feature everyone liked was it had a foam bottom sole. This was back in the mid 50s. Any info where to find them would be very helpful.

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