If the shoe fits….

If the shoe fits….

Q. I am a reader of your excellent column on men’s fashion. I “used” to be a fan of Allen Edmonds shoes. That changed when I sent a not-particularly beat-up pair back for their recrafting service a couple of years ago. I’m afraid I bought into the recrafting line as a “restoration” or at least a thorough refresh of the shoes. I was greatly underwhelmed. The shoes came back several weeks later  for $125, barely polished. I complained, they said to send them back; I did. When they came back a second time, “nothing” further had been done to them.

I have six pairs of Allen Edmonds shoes. I won’t be buying any more. I’m not tough on my clothing or my shoes, but AE’s touted recrafting service is a scam. As I wear them down to “not first line” condition any more, I am replacing them with other brands of shoes.        

A.I am sorry that you had an unpleasant – and unsatisfactory – experience with the Allen Edmonds recrafting service. I’m afraid that is the sort of unexpected situation that may occur when a long-established upscale company is sold to another company that has not been involved in, say, the refurbishing business. Such is the case with Allen Edmonds, which was sold to another shoe company in December, 2016.  

This may be upsetting to many loyal Allen Edmonds customers, men who are not generally in the habit of spending large sums on most of their clothing, but who are somehow willing to invest $400 for shoes that are comfortable, classic, handsome, and long-lasting. It is interesting to note that men who wear AE shoes recognize them and often comment on them to others who are wearing them, in much the same way as a guy who is driving a Porsche blinks his headlights at another Porsche driver on the road. Other companies that offer similar high quality men’s dress shoes either charge a good deal more (as examples, dress shoes from the top-quality American-made Alden Shoe Co. start at $550), and/or are made in Europe (Church’s, Tod’s, John Lobb, Ferragamo, and Gucci, begin at $650 and go way up). 

Men who have been buying Allen Edmonds shoes for years grew accustomed to their fine quality as well as to the recrafting service the company offered to restore their shoes to near-new condition. If that service is no longer up to the standards you are used to, then it makes sense to look elsewhere for repairs. How about a really good local shoe repair shop? You might look for one that refers to itself as “a cobbler.”

Since life goes on, all things change, and you may not find another brand that you like as well as Allen Edmonds, rather than “throwing the baby out with the bath water,” why not make a less drastic change? (It may help to know that Allen Edmonds shoe prices are reduced considerably during their twice-a-year sales. Buying a new pair at a greatly-reduced-price might be easier than trying to find the perfect restorer.) Or you can continue to buy the shoes you know you like and find some other way to solve the refurbishing problem. (Interestingly, the Alden Shoe Co. not only continues to make superb-quality dress shoes, but also has an excellent recrafting service.) 

If any of my readers can recommend a repair shop or a service that is especially good at restoring shoes, please let me know who it is and where to find it. Also, if you have recently discovered shoes from another brand that you are happy with, I would like to know the name.

Please send your men’s dress and grooming questions and comments to MALE CALL: Lois.Fenton@prodigy.net

Categories: Male Call