American Style: Allen Edmonds

Over the last few days I’ve been in Chicago for a Conference.  It’s been a chance to explore US style. Over the next few posts I will be doing an exposé on American menswear not readily available on the British High Street.

For me the store that I was most pleased to be able to visit was Allen Edmonds. AE is an iconic American brand. Their shoes are manufactured in the USA and they have recently begun to stretch the brand to include shirts, leather goods, ties, pocket squares, blazers and waistcoats. A number of these products are not manufactured by AE.  Instead they have partnered with a number of similar all American manufacturers.

However, when I went into AE this week, my first time entering a store rather than viewing online, I was only interested in their shoes.

AE make very beautifully crafted shoes. They are a traditional shoe company and so most of their shoes are solid and a little heavy. The sole lining is made entirely from cork so that it moulds to the foot over time.  Some of their more popular styles are shaped on a wide last. This means that the shoes are very comfy but if like me you prefer a more sleek shape it can make your feet look a little more chunky than ideal.

What is not in doubt is the quality of the shoe, or indeed of the customer service. I’ve not been in a shoe store before where when you ask to try on a shoe someone actually puts the shoe on your foot for you.  That was an interesting experience.  Then again, for a man of modest means who tends to buy only discounted shoes it is hardly surprising I have not previously had that kind of experience.

The shoes I really wanted to see were the AE Neumok. These are shaped on the AE #5 last, one of their more narrow shapes. In addition, the Neumok is available in a range of colours: olive, blue, red, and tan, all with two pairs of contrasting laces. The Neumok is by no means the top of the AE range; indeed they are classified within their casual range.  However, I think they are beautiful shoes but I had only ever seen them online. I wanted to know whether they would match up to expectations ‘in the leather.’  If anything I am even more impressed.

What I hadn’t seen coming was that they had three different styles of shoes in grey, all of which had been discounted. As I am in the market for a pair of grey shoes I found this very difficult to resist.  But I did.  In fact, it was the olive Neumok that had me most tempted….  But I digress.

I had a fab time pottering about in 2 of the the AE stores in Chicago.  If they are indicative of AE stores nationwide I fully understand why Americans hold Allen Edmonds in such affection.  AE appear fully to deserve their reputation.

In the next post we look at another but very different American shoe company: Cole Haan.

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