Hi Reddit!

[It's now evening and I went back over the AMA to complete open questions. I hope I've answered every one to your satisfaction. Thanks again for your interest in Allen Edmonds!]

OK. My time is over the schedule, and I have someone in my office now. I really enjoyed this opportunity and thank you for your interest and attention. I'll come back again soon, if you'd like.

In the meantime, please do give a look to our Rediscover America Sale. We have some amazing products at incredible prices -- not only shoes, but belts, apparel and business leathers, too.



Thanks again!

Best wishes, Paul

Comments: 222 • Responses: 78  • Date: 

BAonReddit29 karma

Hi Paul, Allen Edmonds introduced me the value of quality footwear and the joy of wearing them, heck I even wrote Allen Edmonds' brand spotlight here.

Most people don't care about footwear and don't want to pay Allen Edmonds' prices - even with the promise of quality, long life and the possibility of recrafting. They rather pay $50, even less, every year to get new footwear instead of maintaining theirs for a long time, consumerism at its best. Even once-great companies like Johnston & Murphy and Florsheim gave up and only have small portion of quality footwear available.

How do you envision the future of Allen Edmonds? Will it join J&M and Florsheim's path or maintain its idealism? Really can't blame you if you give up too, after all you have to achieve profitability, especially since Allen Edmonds is owned by a private equity firm now. If you maintain Allen Edmonds' current state, how are you going to make it? I know you already move all leather upper production to Dominican Republic to cut the cost but I also noticed a price hike recently and obviously make your products more unattainable for most.

PS: The head customer service lady at Port Washington is an outstanding sample of customer service excellency. Give her my compliment!

AllenEdmondsCEO28 karma

There's a return to valuing quality and authentictiy these days, especially among younger people. I spoke at a business school class last night and there were a large number of people wearing our shoes.

We WILL stay on our path of American jobs creation, manufacturing, quality tied with great service (thanks for your comments about Deb in CS). Our business is growing each year. We're definitely going to make it by staying on this path. We work everyday to live up to our tagline -- AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL.

BAonReddit3 karma

Maybe I am pessimistic but I foresee the future of American manufactures to be very bleak, so I truly hope I am wrong in this case. I still want my next Allen Edmonds shoes available new from stores and not only available used on ebay.

Wish you the best of luck with that and keep up the good work!

AllenEdmondsCEO14 karma

Thanks! I think you are being pessimistic, but I get why. There's a renewed interest in American manufacturing and American made products these days and it's gaining momentum. We get requests often from companies that went off-shore to make shoes for them onshore. We'll be here for you with NEW shoes for a long time.

Deusis20 karma

Hi Paul,

Thanks for doing this! I know you have a very close relationship with Horween as they supply you with a fair amount of your leather (and all of your shell cordovan). How many other tanneries does Allen Edmonds work closely with?

AllenEdmondsCEO7 karma

5 or 6. Different tanneries are good at different things. We're always looking for the best supply of the leather and qualities we want to use.

Neurophil16 karma

Hey there! I have a pretty simple question. I was just curious what the official reason for the discontinuation of the MTO-upcharge waiver for Styleforum MTOs was?

Also, If you have some time, stop by /r/goodyearwelt, reddits high quality stitched construction footwear subreddit. we'd love to hear from you, and I'm sure a lot of us will be in this thread asking a variety of questions.

AllenEdmondsCEO24 karma

I'm a huge fan of our StyleForum friends. The reasons we discontinued the practice I outlined there in detail, but basically, we were losing money on many of the shoes due to their high level of complexity. However, we have made it up to the group by continuing to waive the fees on Group Made to Orders. We're on our fourth such shoe for the group and over 80 requests, I think. So we're continuing the practice in a more sustainable way. Thanks for asking.

paulse4 karma

Have you considered something like Meermin's MTO system to smooth out the logistics of setting up orders like this? I think theres a huge opportunity for AE in something like this.

Vystril2 karma

I'd second this. If AE had a MTO system page, I'd be checking that thing all the time.

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

We do have an MTO page and we'll be upgrading it soon, too. Here's the link --


SiON42X14 karma

From what I understand, Park Avenues were worn by every President on Inauguration Day since Ronald Reagan. How did this start, and how do you plan to keep that tradition alive?

AllenEdmondsCEO22 karma

We didn't need to introduce AE to the Presidents. They already knew about us and I think it started earlier than RR, but we don't have any specific confirmation of that. (You can see our shoes on the LBJ character in the movie "THE BUTLER" though. Forrest Whitaker is a big customer.) The current Prime Minister of Canada is a huge fan -- he sent a letter to me that we have on our wall in the factory. We also have letters from Reagan, Bush I, Bush II and Clinton (I?) -- so we're doggedly bipartisan. Over the Bush years, we had a great relationship with the President's valet.

ChickenLadyLovesLife7 karma

More importantly, what will you do if Hillary wins in 2016? Do Park Avenues go with pantsuits?

AllenEdmondsCEO23 karma

Definitely! From her height, I assume her shoe size is at least a women's 7 and we can definitely fit her. A lot of women wear our shoes, especially with pants.

MRBACON8ER10 karma

what are your thoughts on Alden's process of leaving their more eccentric make-ups to specific retailers and spot runs while you continue to design almost all your shoes in house?

it seems like their strategy puts the burden of excess stock on the retailers while many of your companies eccentric designs sit in the clearance section of your website and i would think make you less profitable am i incorrect?

AllenEdmondsCEO16 karma

Alden makes great shoes. We use most of the same suppliers and manufacturing methods. We are indeed stretching our product line more and experimenting. Some of our experiments have been hugely successful -- the McTavish wingtip in cowhide with a natural sidewall, the Neumoks as an unconstructed wingtip with no lining, our Bourbon and other brown leather introductions, the Boulder that put us into the all-weather moccasin business for the first time as the Dalton put us in lace-up dress boots for the first time. Others have tanked. I'm a huge believer that you don't get better skiing unless you occasionally take a fall. There are a few shoes I'd like to take back, and there are others I thought wouldn't make it that have. What one AE Man finds too far out there can attract a whole new customer. Our current Strandmok with it's ChromeXL leather and Dainite sole got huge criticism on StyleForum, and it's one of our bestselling introductions for this fall. As the Germans used to tell me -- Um Geschmack laesst sich nicht streiten (there's no arguing about taste).

Vystril2 karma

What would you think about having a made to order system like Meermin? It might let you experiment a bit more without as much risk. I'd love to keep checking your site to see what things you're trying out.

AllenEdmondsCEO6 karma

We're working on this....

mstacle2 karma

And your thoughts on Meermin in general? They're kind of a "start up" in the shoe world and are doing some really cool stuff on their GMTO program. Does AE see companies like this as a competitor/threat? Do you try to learn from them?

AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

I don't know them, so I'll have to do some homework. Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

I do try to learn from new companies as well as the established ones. New ones are more interesting to me, though, as they tend to have younger followers and we're keen to win over the hearts and minds of younger customers who have great expectations and aspirations.

instagigated2 karma

Paul, you should introduce more classic designs to Allen Edmonds. There are huge chunks in your line-up such as a shortwing blucher. A lot of your styles are repetitive and simply missing the point. By keeping more classic styles as a forefront and filling the holes in your line-up, I am sure you will attract more customers through this avenue. Is it not true that a solid house is build on a solid foundation? AE needs to get back to making simple, beautiful shoes before experimenting with the wacky.

AllenEdmondsCEO8 karma

Thanks for the feedback. We're working to offer the full gamut of classics AND offer new styles as well. The short wing blucher is a hole we're filling. Otherwise, i spend a lot of time looking at other shoe companies, as do many others at AE, and we're convinced we have the broadest and best classic offering out there. Still, we're always looking for new ideas. Besides the blucher shortwing, what else would you like to see in our solid foundation?

i_use_this_for_work2 karma

the Dalton put us in lace-up dress boots for the first time.

Wearing my walnut shell Daltons today as a matter of fact.

Mr. Grangaard, you personally responded to me over at AAAC early in my AE collecting years, and now I'm onto a second closet for them.

Kudos to you, and special mention to Simon Kramer, who was immensely helpful time and time and time again. I'm sorry he's no longer at Shoe Bank to help my retail needs, but glad to hear he's still with you in another role. He was the epitome of customer service.

AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

Thanks!!! Simon is managing our Outlet stores now, passing on his great customer service. There are worthy successors for him, though, as he'd be the first to say.

imagoodusername9 karma

Hi Paul,

I own too many pairs of your shoes :)

A question: My question is on the future use of technology at Allen Edmonds. While I know AE is very proud of its time-honored 212-step process, do you see new technologies playing a part of the Company's future? For example, advances in 3D scanning and printing could open the way for individualized lasts (like Brooks Brothers' MTM, but for shoes -- potentially at premium prices and profit margins) or better fit guidance (e.g. Customer X should wear a 11D in the 5-last, an 11.5C in the 1 last, should avoid the 800 last entirely, etc.).

A compliment: I'd like to call out the folks at the Jeffersonville store. They are absolutely fantastic to deal with, and have always gone above and beyond in my interactions with them.

A thinly veiled request, phrased as a question: any plans for more shoes on the 606 last? It's the best fitting last for me.

A thank you: Thanks for making shoes in weird sizes. I'm a 14.5B/14B on a Brannock, and you are one of the few companies left that caters to us folks.

AllenEdmondsCEO9 karma

Thanks for your business! We have three new lasts coming next year. There'll be fits more like the 606 but with different toe shapes and higher insteps to choose from.

Thanks also for the comment about our J-Ville team.

As for technology. We already do 3d printouts of new soles. It's a long way off, maybe, but I do think someday we'll "print" out non-leather soles for direct use in the shoes themselves, not just prototypes.

Daytripper06188 karma

Hi Paul, I currently own 4 pairs of your shoes and I'll probably add two or three more before the RDA sale ends. However, I'm wondering if Allen Edmonds plans on introducing a shortwing blucher any time soon?

AllenEdmondsCEO12 karma

Yes we do! Next winter.

sklark237 karma

Which leather is your favorite? (Source (cowhide/horse/calf) and color)

How has the recent buyout changed operations at AE?

How are the webgems and other rather out there models get designed? Curious on this front since the Bayfield and Eagle Country seemed to get phased out but they were popular designs done in odd leather and sole combinations. (SF MTO being done and is in high demand further proof of popular designs)

AllenEdmondsCEO7 karma

I love cordovan. But there's a role for each of those you mention. My color tastes vary but I'm thrilled with Bob's Chili, the color that our head of finishing created over the past year. It's amazing. His partner at the end of the production line, Jose', has similarly developed a new Oxblood we're brining out this fall. Also amazing. They're great people, Bob and Jose', and longtime AE employees. I'm so proud of them, so their recent creations rise up my list to the top.

As for the recent acquisition - valuable focus on using catalogs to get our story out much better and on production efficiencies we suspected were there for the taking, but we hadn't gotten them yet.

Joe_Beaumont2 karma

Thanks for doing the AMA. I'm actually wearing my burgundy shell Park Ave today.

I agree, your oxblood color looks so good.

My question: I still can't believe you called it Bob's Chili. What's the story behind that?

Also, thanks for bringing back the Fifth Streets! Even if it's online only. I'm sure I'll have a pair sometime soon.

AllenEdmondsCEO6 karma

Bob Steffes has been running our finishing area for about 5 years now. He was in other production roles before that, a long term AE employee and a great guy. I challenged him when he moved to finishing to take our finishing quality to much higher levels. If you've been around our shoes for several years, you know he's been doing a great job on our burnished brows colors especially. We asked him to make our Chili better, richer, cooler. As he worked on it, we called the project "Bob's Chili" because of Bob. But it stuck because it sounded like a place you'd want to go for lunch on a cold Wisconsin day. Our craftsmen make us who we are. We decided both to call the color what it is -- Bob's work -- and to honor Bob in so doing. People really seem to like that we did. I sure do.

Vystril1 karma

Any chance of seeing the Daltons in Bob's Chili or Oxblood?

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

You bet. They're both great looks on the Dalton.

mudrock126 karma

For anyone who has ever bought a pair of AE on eBay or at the thrift store; is there a code inside the shoe to see when it was made?

AllenEdmondsCEO15 karma

Yes, but I honestly can't tell you how to decode it. Our production guys know. You could send me an email (please cc my assistant so I'm sure to see it in the deluge of emails I get from solicitations) with the codes inside and I'll try to find out for you.

[email protected] [email protected]

lawanddisorder6 karma

Hi Paul, what's it like working for Brentwood as opposed to Goldner Hawn? I know you're still the CEO, but has Brentwood brought different ideas and goals to AE?

AllenEdmondsCEO8 karma

The GH folks were my old partners and we'd been friends for years. I've only known the Brentwood partners for a year now -- so that's a difference. They're both hugely value added and fly completely against the negative stereotype of Private Equity players. They're both business builders and care about the people side a lot. GH saved this company with an injection of $10 mm of new capital at the darkest economic time since the Great Depression. They were incredible stewards of a 90 year old company and a major employer in exurban Milwaukee. The Brentwood folks have a great deal of specialty retailing experience and expertise. We've taken our cataloguing efforts to levels we never thought about before with their guidance. They've also helped us with manufacturing efficiencies with their MIT/GE-educated operating partner (one of the nicest/humblest brilliantly smart guys I've ever met). We're lucky.

Deusis5 karma

That is very encouraging to hear.

All too often I feel like people associate private equity investors with the degradation and eventual downward spiral of a company. It sounds like Brentwood has done the exact opposite and are firmly interested in upholding what Allen Edmonds has taken many, many years to build.

The manufacturing aspect is even more important than people realize too. Having an effectively running manufacturing facility does wonders for equipment efficiency, personnel productivity and overall profit levels.

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma


zaaaos6 karma

Any plans to move into shoes for women, or at least offer extended sizing for women? Women's average shoe size is 7 - think that translates to a men's 5. Most if not all shoes on ae.com are at least 6!

AllenEdmondsCEO10 karma

As I mentioned about fitting Hillary Clinton for Inauguraton Day, should that be the voters' wish, women can wear our shoes. However, we want to stay focused on men's shoes. We don't have the lasts, the knowhow, or the machinery to make women's shoes. Although we're stretching the product line, we want to stay with what we're good at -- and that's understanding men and men's fashion.

zaaaos2 karma

Thank you - never thought it would take different tools to make women's shoes in the same styles!

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

The lasts for purely women shoes are different. The machines for side-lasting would need calibration. It is surprising, but it's a lot more complicated than one would think. Still, our shoes fit women's feet really well, when sized in person by our master fitters.

Horologyfellow6 karma

Can I have my allen edmonds recrafted after I have had the soles replaced by another cobbler?

AllenEdmondsCEO6 karma

Maybe. It depends on how good your cobbler was at replacing the soles. Sometimes they chip away at the integrity of the shoe, though, and there's not as much of the upper leather left to attached to a full Recraft. We don't want our Recrafted shoes to last only a few months, so we do turn down a bunch of "tainted" shoes.

ohsemantics3 karma

Hi Paul, just to clarify, if all I did was get a "topy" installed (a thin rubber half-sole) on the new, original sole, the shoes are likely not tainted correct?

TiLun2 karma

As far as I know, Allen Edmonds will recraft a topy'd shoe. The topy half-sole is just glued onto the outsole and shouldn't do anything to affect the integrity of the shoe, especially the upper.

AllenEdmondsCEO7 karma

Correct. Unless you left them out in the rain or compromised the upper some other irreverisible way, they should be fine for Recrafting. Don't do the topy thing next time, though. Just order the shoes with either the Dainite soles or the built in rubber tap soles (that have the rubber layer in there but within the shape of the sole). Those topy soles degrade the look and the lines of the shoe, IMHO.

Metcarfre6 karma

Hi Paul, thanks for doing an AMA again.

I have three pairs of AE shoes. This year I picked up some Bayfield boots off of eBay, and I have to say they're a great design. With the recent popularity of relatively sleek-toed boots, I think it would do quite well (or perhaps a redesign to remove the punches). Any chance it will be rereleased in the near future?

AllenEdmondsCEO6 karma

Yup, although we're going for a plain cap toe look now for an even sleeker toe. Watch for it in a couple of weeks on a WebGem and then next year. It's my new favorite boot. Very cool.

informareWORK5 karma

How do you negotiate the balance between offering designs that keep up with modern fashion trends and designs that represent classic and timeless shoe styles? What goes into the process of adding new designs, getting rid of designs, and keeping old designs?

AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

Quality, fine materials, craftsmanship -- these are always in fashion. Fortunately for us, "classics" and "updated classics" or "classics with a twist" are in vogue. We're lasar focused on trends and the competition. That's one of our "6 Key Commitments" as a leadership team and a company. I'd also add that we're hugely committed to our core products and customers. We're eager to expand our offering and customers, but not at the expense of leaving anything successful or anyone supportive behind.

leadfoot3235 karma

Why should I buy an Allen Edmonds shoe over a pair of Cole Haan or Johnston & Murphy?

AllenEdmondsCEO33 karma

Sorry. I don't like to comment so directly on competitors -- I have friends at both places in high spots. There are a bunch of folks you can ask about the differences. Stop by a store and compare.

utspg19805 karma

Paul, I was reading thru your AMA from 2 years ago, and have a follow up question.

Someone asked how much a pair of ______ shoes cost to manufacture. Your reply was that depended on if your crew was working overtime or not, and that lately they had always been working overtime (thus increasing the cost).

My question is, what's overtime looking like now? At my job, we're almost always on overtime. The first couple of years, all that extra money was great. But after awhile it starts to wear on you. What's the point of working all that OT if you don't have the free time/energy to go out and spend it having fun?

Is your company in a habitual state of working OT? Do you view this as a sustainable business model? What changes have you made to alter this? If you've hired more people (due to increases in demand in recent years), do you view it as a significant risk that you will have to fire many people when you hit a down-cycle/recession?

Thanks for your time.

AllenEdmondsCEO11 karma

Great, great question. Everything in balance is a great motto. By working overtime quite a bit, we give our employees better compensation they desire and also avoid "over-hiring". We try to do it in worker-friendly ways, however. Our normal week is a 10 hour day M-Th. When we work on Fridays, we try to end at lunchtime, leaving them the afternoon off. We give extra time around the 4th of July and the Holidays so people can enjoy their families. We give people a break if they don't want to work overtime, too. So, right now it is habitual, but within reasonable constraints and to avoid layoffs should things soften.

Lavar3 karma

Any innovations coming out of the competition that you wish came out of your shop?

AllenEdmondsCEO9 karma

Ecco did a great job with lighterweight, comfortable shoes many years ago and they're now a $2B company. (Styling is a matter of taste.) Early next year we're coming out with shoes that look great but are 40% lighter and have removabale insoles like running shoes. They're going to be fantastic ... and they're overdue.

Metcarfre5 karma

Will they still be resoleable, or constructed using other methods?

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

Fully Recraft-able. That'll be a big differentiator for us in that type of shoe, as well as the quality of Goodyear welted construction, the layer of cork that molds to your foot, the amazing light weight of the sole and shoe overall, and the All American great styling. Can you tell I'm going to be wearing these a lot myself next year?

TichoBlanco3 karma

Hey Paul, thanks for taking the time to do this. My Allen Edmonds Randolph's are my most worn pair of shoes.

I live in a major American city, and the shoes I see most men wearing are poorly designed, corrected grain leather and cemented construction. These shoes are cheap and disposable. How can the men who buy these shoes be converted to wearing quality, recraftable and classicly styled shoes? How can Allen Edmonds reach these consumers?

AllenEdmondsCEO8 karma

It starts with your enthusiasm. Our best stories are of friends, mentors, uncles, dads, grandfathers telling somebody about the importance of high quality shoes -- for the impression they make on women and employers, for the positive effects on skeletal (not just foot) health, and for the benefits to the pocket book of buying high quality less often. Otherwise, we're also working social media much more these days. As mentioned above, we don't have the budget to advertise during the Super Bowl or anything remotely like that.

MrEdweenie3 karma

Just how many pairs of shoes do you own?

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

I have shoes coming in and cominig out of the closet all the time. I think I have about 20 pair in there right now. But I wear some of them just for fit purposes and testing. Like most people, I have my 7 or 8 favorites. I'm big into our golf shoes right now, before the snow flies. Wait until we come out with our new Nicklaus editions this year. They're awesome.

purplepooters3 karma

do you make flip flops?

AllenEdmondsCEO8 karma

We buy them from a flip flop maker in Hawaii and co-brand them for sale in our own stores and online (not at wholesale). I have a couple pair I wear all summer. They're incredibly well made and comfortable. High quality construction and materials (we screened them heaviliy before putting our name on them).

Frikki793 karma

Hello Paul.

As a European I never see your shoes in the stores. How about giving us in the Old World some love?

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

It depends on where you live. We're pretty well represented in Germany (e.g. Schuhhaus Goertz) and somewhat in Italy (e.g.we have our own outlet in Serravale near Milano). Club Monaco just opened a store in London that offers our shoes. However, you're singing off our songsheet. We plan to be much more prevalent in the Old World in later 2015 and 2016. Having worked in Germany for 3 years in my 20s and studied in Italy in college, I'm eager to see us give back to the countries that have meant so much to me in my life.

SiON42X3 karma

Where do you see the future of the double monk strap? My favorite go-to pair of shoes are Pine Rivers, they go with nearly everything and I wear them almost every day. I'm hoping to get a pair of Moras at some point.

Do you see the double monk becoming a more common item in the future?

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

Yup. The double-monk is going from "only a few of us know about them" to a more mainstream style. Our Mora 2.0 is really gaining momentum (it fits better than the original, hence the 2.0 -- we re-worked the pattern just a bit). I'm a big fan of the look, btw.

BAonReddit6 karma

Mora 2.0 is infamous for its cap-toe creasing tho. Not that I mind, mine crease on the right shoe, but some people do consistently complain about it.

AllenEdmondsCEO18 karma

Thanks for the input. I hadn't heard that but maybe I've not been attentive. We'll work on the internal toe box that keeps the toe shape up, so that it ends in a different place and the shoe holds its form better. I really appreciate your comment.

TheTousler1 karma

I actually preferred the original Mora, are you able to make it still as an MTO?

AllenEdmondsCEO2 karma

Not very easily. We put aside the dies for that pattern. Email me what you liked about the old one and we'll see what we can do.

TheyCalledMeGriff3 karma

Hey! I've got two questions to ask!

First, what kind of new styles can we expect from AE coming up? I am recently getting into dressing a tad sharper after getting my first office job and AE are in my sights. I love the quality of the shoes I've seen and am excited to cop my first pair.

Second question, what pair of AE do you personally wear at the moment and what is your all-time favorite AE shoe?

Thanks for the AMA, cheers!

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

We have some great dress calfskin and vinatage leather boots coming, some great plain toe looks in smooth and pebble grain calfskin, a whole new line of high quality boat and camp shoes made of cool colors in ChromeXL (way better leather, rom Horween in Chicago, than the boat shoe norm).... I'm really excited about next year's offerings.

slowtop12 karma


AllenEdmondsCEO2 karma

Hey! The blog update was supposed to be posted yesterday. I'll check into that (wrote it over the weekend).

Wear a pair of Strands or, on sale now for huge discounts -- the Fifth Avenues or the MacGregors -- to your first interview. If something helps you impress the right employer and lasts 10-20 years, it'll be worth the money. Good luck with the search!

slowtop12 karma


AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

You're a very smart man and you'll go far.

Majorxerocom2 karma

Do you think you will ever be able to produce a shoe for the common man? Your shoes look very nice, but out of my price range. Keep up the good work!

AllenEdmondsCEO9 karma

We're the shoe for the Oval Office, the Corner Office, and the Principal's Office. I know a whole bunch of common but extraordinary men, including some of very limited means, who are major AE fans. Right now our sale has some of the best shoes any money can buy priced just over $200 but lasting 10-20 years. Cheaper shoes will end up costing several times that amount as they're replaced over and over in the same time frame. What's more, you can buy our factory seconds from the ShoeBank or other outlets stores (the seconds are often indistinguisghable from first quality to most people, certainly 6 feet away, i.e. from eye-to-foot levels) for much less. Unless you feel the Common Man won't spend more than $100 for dress shoes, AE is still the right shoe company for you and for him. Part of our American ideals is that we want to be democratic (small "d") and accessible to anybody pursuing and achieving the American dream. We're a big tent company, not an elite luxury brand. Accessible luxury is our motto.

Majorxerocom2 karma

Hard for me to justify 200 plus dollars for shoes with a wife and two kids. Also I wear the outside heal out on my shoes, and it would kill me to know I was doing that to a 200 plus pair of shoes. Thanks for answering my question!

AllenEdmondsCEO11 karma

So spend less than $200 for factory seconds, but don't settle for shoes that won't help you achieve your goals for your family and may hold you back. Think of it like you thought of your education but on a much smaller scale, as an investment in yourself and your advancement. I'm not kidding. I had a boss who wouldn't hire guys (into a great job, by the way) if they had bad shoes on. We read stories all the time about guys who landed jobs because they had on AEs and the interviewer noticed. "Dress for the job you want, not the one you have." is an old wise saying. Also, you can slow the wear on your heels with a tap, as the next post says. A shoe repair shop can put them on for not much money, depending on where you live.

Tress332 karma

Sales pitch time! There are a lot of options for shoes out there today. Why should I spend my money on a pair of yours?

AllenEdmondsCEO8 karma

Quality of materials and craftsmanship, style, longevity, Recraft-ability (they'll last 10-20 years), authenticity, American manufacturing, great customer service -- they tell everyone who notices (and many more men, and women especially, will notice than you might expect) that you have great taste, respect yourself, respect the people you meet enough to present yourself well, and high intelligence. Otherwise, they're really cool.

TDIWill2 karma

Where do you see the brand going over the next 10 years? It seems more and more people are getting in to your products, curious how you plan to sustain growth and keep customers from getting bored with the brand.

AllenEdmondsCEO8 karma

One of my favorite quotes and one I say over and over at the office ---We want to skate to where the puck is going (Wayne Gretzky). We're going to continue to open stores around the U.S., gradually expand internationally with our own stores (they're how we best develop our brand) and become more and more selective about our wholesale representation so that we're seriously important to them and they to us. It's our goal over the next 10 years to become a major American global brand.

rujersey2 karma

Why are there no women's shoes?

AllenEdmondsCEO10 karma

So many reasons -- Brand consistency, product integrity, capital investment limitations, lack of expertise/experience in womens and low ability to predict women's trends, high cost of fashion missteps and... our dress shoes look fantastic with fall and winter pants for women. My daughter had a female colleague get married in our shoes.

big-karim2 karma

Hi Paul, I asked this question in your last AMA, but you weren't able to get to it, so I'll try again.

How concerned are you about over-exposure and commoditization (a la starbucks)? Fashion is such a fickle business, and so much of it is about finding the next thing once the high-street trends have trickled down to the Walmarts and Targets.

I love my AEs, and would hate to read about how you guys needed to scale back because you grew too big too quickly. I look at Alden, which sort of keeps its head down and does the same thing year-in year-out, and then I look at AE, which rolls out a dozen new styles and colors every season. How do you make this sustainable?

AllenEdmondsCEO11 karma

Good question. Business history is full of companies that grew beyond their best size. I don't think we're anywhere close to our potential, though. I mentioned that last night I was speaking to an evening MBA class, obviously filled with younger guys (women too of course) who are working hard to grow their tool kit and careers. Only a third of them had on decent shoes, and that's knowing I was speaking and we have a store 2 blocks away. We have a lot of growth opportunity. We're driven by a lot of non-financial things at AE -- job growth being one of them and thrilling more and more customers being another. Both give us a huge sense of mission and value in what we do. We're not looking to "settle down" at this level. We've doubled the company in 4 years, yet the % of USA purchased shoes made in the USA is only 2%. A couple hours in an airport looking at men's shoes as they go by shows clearly that we have a lot of evangelizing left to do. We don't feel in competition with Alden and their good shoes. We're in competition with bad shoes -- and they dominate the market.

frankthomas352 karma

Hi Paul. I am late to the party, so hopefully this does not get too buried.

I attend a business school in the Midwest, and am an officer in our marketing club. I understand that you recently presented to another business school (Madison from what my research is telling me) and I was curious if I might be able to reach out to you or someone about potentially being part of an event on campus in early 2015? If so, let me know what you think is the best way to get in touch /coordinate with you. Thanks!

AllenEdmondsCEO6 karma

Sure, depending on logistical issues. Email me. [email protected]. Please cc my assistant at [email protected] in case I lose track of your message amidst the deluge daily.

ewindisch1 karma

Thank you Paul, for doing another AMA! As someone with a hard-to-fit size, I've become a huge fan of Allen Edmonds since discovering them in 2011! Your service is also awesome (your excellent staff even helped me acquire and re-import the last in-stock Walnut Shell Daltons from the Serravalle store!)

Two questions:

1) In an interview at the launch of the Dalton, you noted that the City Center (Minneapolis) is used as a test-bed for new styles. Is this still true? I contacted the store and they seemed to confirm, but the answers were vague -- mostly, I was told about new styles coming in the fall line-up. Is it true the City Center store carries "beta" / "testing" styles? Does this include the not-released Parsons student lines? Besides physically going there, what might be the best way of learning about these small-run, City-Center-only styles?

2) Because I love Allen Edmonds and because I have a hard-to-fit size, I'm interested in any plans you might have to expand beyond dress shoes? I know there is the Voyager, but it's not the most stylish of options and I'm really wondering if you might introduce new "walking shoes" or sneakers to your range?

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

My pleasure. I really enjoy this experience.

We do test shoes for future seasons in some of our stores, not just Mpls City-Center. We also do webgems online for the same purpose. I'd encourage you just to contact Phil, Jeff or Libby on the phone or email in Mpls to see what's new. We're working on new athleisure and "comfort walking shoes" right now. I mentioned in another answer the new lightweight dress shoes we have coming, too. They'll be more to your style liking, I think. I look forward to hearing what you think of them come next winter.

ID-10T-ERROR1 karma


AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

Hi Roger -- We put "Superior Customer Service" in the same breath as "Premium Value, High Quality Products" in our list of Six Key Commitments. I'm so glad you noticed.

One clarification -- we do not have factory in China or anywhere in Asia! We're selling Made in USA (of Fine Imported Leathers) to our China licensee who has Allen Edmonds stores in China. The production, though, is on this side of the globe for sure. As for future expansion, we're working through the where and when right now. Stay tuned!

do_a_barrelRoll1 karma

How many people work for you?

AllenEdmondsCEO6 karma

We have just over 1000 employees and our "Partners Circle" as we call our leadership team has 10 people besides me, but nobody works for me. They work for a great company, for an incredible customer base, for their own families, for their colleagues and teammates and for their own well being. I've been in leadership positions for 20 years now and I never liked anybody saying they worked "for me" and have often corrected that common expression. It's not my style.

nolanreagan1 karma

Thank you for making such great shoes. My grandfather wore AE and my dad and I do as well. I love buying something made in America. I was wondering if we will see more Shell Cordovan in colors besides Black, Cordovan, and Brown. Also, I wanted to tell you how great of an experience Jonathan Watson provided for me at the St Louis store! Vicenzo at the ShoeBank there in Port Washington is the best of the best too. Any chance you guys offer factory tours? I'd love to see AEs being made.

AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

Please come for a factory tour! It's a great experience -- you'll love the sights and the smells of the place, as well as the people on our lines. It's worth the trip.

There's an industry shortage of horse hides (people are eating less and less horse meat in Canada and France, where the hides tend to come from). It's much harder to tan a light color than a dark color. Our good friends at Horween are reluctant in this time of shortage to try to tan light colors, and then have to reject some that don't work out, therby wasting the scarce resource. They get a higher yield from darker colors. We have more demand for cordovan shoes than we can meet, so we're in the same camp. Good question!

Deusis4 karma

Would you ever consider sourcing Shell Cordovan from a tannery other than Horween? Ex: Shinki Hikaku in Japan, Comipel in Italy, or Clayton in the UK?

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

Never say never, but our relationship with Skip Horween and his family is very important to us and vice versa. We think also that his cordovan is the best.

instagigated3 karma

As a Canadian, I will start to eat horse meat from now on. I have an addiction to shell cordovan.

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

I hope you eat a lot of it. Thanks for your dedication!

TichoBlanco1 karma

Question from my mate David: What is the rationale behind the inferior quality ae by Allen Edmonds collection?

utspg19802 karma

Plenty of brands out there do this. I imagine it has to be 2 fold: First, it's a way to get new customers that are hesitant to spend so much money on a pair of shoes. Or they just simply can't. But you get them started on your shoes and then they learn to like it, and later maybe they've gotten a promotion and can now afford the full quality, and your brand is already in their head; Second, you know there are some people that are just simply never going to spend that much money on shoes, no matter how much money they have. So you still get to sell to those people.

And your educated/loyal customers are never going to mistakingly buy the budget brand, so there's no risk there.

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

This question comes up from time to time. They're actually not so inferior in materials, just made in the Dominican Republic and having glued-on rubber soles, as contrasted to our sewn on welts we do in Wisconsin. The reason we do them at all is because they compete in a huge part of the U.S. shoe industry. I like to say that when I was a kid playing baseball the worst thing wasn't losing, it was when not enough players showed up and we had to forfeit, and didn't get to play. We don't want to forfeit to other shoe companies some common parts of our guys' wardrobes like boat shoes and driving mocassins. To be price close for those styles, however, we have to make ours in the DR (vs theirs usually in China), then we compete on quality of materials and craftsmanship. As the post above says, it's also a way to introduce our brand to people. A lot of fashion companies do this kind of thing -- compare where Ralph Lauren's Chaps label is made and priced to where his Purple Label is made and priced, for example.

sleepauger1 karma

Hey, thanks for doing an AMA.

Aside from the Wolverine 1k line, does AE manufacture for any other brands?

AllenEdmondsCEO7 karma

Yes, but one of the highest profile companies insists we not tell. Brooks Bros freely tells folks we make shoes for them. We have a new co-branded relationship with Club Monaco. We're proud to be chosen by some of the most discerning menswear designers around.

zaaaos1 karma

Jos A Bank but that's on their website. Any idea, redditors?

AllenEdmondsCEO2 karma

I meant another, higher end brand.

holyshitfacebatman1 karma

What's the typical profit margin for a pair of shoe's?

AllenEdmondsCEO10 karma

The great thing about being a private company is that we don't have to do SEC public disclosure for our competitors. I'll just say that our price/value relationship is the best in the business (IMHO). You get much more quality from us than from others for the price. We can't do that with the same profit margins others make on their off-shored production. That's why you don't see us advertising in a lot more places a lot more often. The margin isn't there. Still -- with great support from our impressive customers who are opinion leaders and influencers in leadership roles all over -- we're growing in awareness and sales, and profitably enough to attract private equity owners.

Frajer1 karma

How much more does it cost to produce your shoes here versus elsewhere?

AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

It depends on the style -- I'd say on average $35-50 a pair. We use high quality materials -- leathers, heel bases, insoles. The materials are another big reason we can't sell our shoes for Rediscover America pricing all the time.

Deusis2 karma

Out of curiosity... does this include the cost of labor, COGS, and other direct/indirect costs or is it this strictly materials?

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

That wasn't an all-in cost number, just the labor differential between USA and off-shore.


AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

Calfskin leather prices have risen 20-30% in the last 18 months. It's higher than that now.

NilesCrane31 karma

What road did you take to become CEO at Allen Edmonds? Will you take me on as your apprentice?

AllenEdmondsCEO8 karma

A long and winding one (Paul McCartney). We're always interested in bright, hard working, fun to be around young people at AE. Send us your resume!

jpsea1 karma

Hi Paul,

I was wondering if you could provide some detail on the future of your Independence Line. I know some of them are very popular, such as the walnut Rutledge, but many were discontinued. Will there be new models released next year?

Also, any plans to release a short-wing blucher sometime?

AllenEdmondsCEO3 karma

We're re-introducing a renewal of the Independence line next year. We're in process on the finishing touches and new materials right now. Wait til you see them! We've decided to offer the new Independence Limited Edition shoes as we do our Cordovan offerings. I.E. we're not going to come up with slightly diffent patterns and new style names anymore. Instead, we'll do our best classic patterns but in the super elite quality calfskin, soft lambskin lining, a lambskin sockliner, a great new sole and a combination leather/back-quarter rubber heel. There will be a style or two only offered in Independence Limited Edition, but if you want the Strand or the Park Avenue with the full monty of upgrades, you'll be able to have those in the Independence construction and without a change to the look.

aabbccatx1 karma

Extremely specific question sorry for that, if I'm a 14E in a Strand/Park Ave, how would that translate to a Dalton or Gobi?

More generic question, what is the long term durability difference between calf and shell cordovan in terms of years of life and scuffing assuming the owner cares for the shoe properly?

AllenEdmondsCEO2 karma

The Dalton is the same last (mold shape) as the Strand and PA, so 14E should be perfect. You'll have a little more room in the Gobi. You could get by there with a 14D probably unless you're stretching your PAs at the E width. It depends on how thick your casual socks will be with the Gobi, or if you'll wear them barefoot, too.

Cordovan is amazing, which is why they're more expensive. It's incredibly strong leather -- the strongest -- and yet it wears like it's softer. The longevity of cordovan is off the charts. Calf will wear out eventually. Cordovan, maybe never (depending on care and the quality of the fit).

southernlumpia1 karma

How important is customer satisfaction/service to the success of AE and what lengths do you go to answer a dissatisfied customer?

Deusis13 karma

Speaking to this firsthand, they go to great lengths to make any issue right. I ordered a pair of boat shoes from Allen Edmonds on sale ($85) a few years ago. When I received the product, they smelled heavily like smoke. What I think happened is someone purchased them and happened to be a smoker but ended up returning them after having them out in their home.

I emailed Customer Service to ask if I could get a different pair, they let me know they unfortunately didn't have another pair in my size. Instead, they offered me any shoe up to $365 for the original price I paid.

From then on, I've been a loyal Allen Edmonds customer (currently own 5 pairs).

AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

Thanks! Our Chief Marketing Officer thought I might post this link to a customer service story for further evidence of our commitment to superior customer service. If you have a dog, you'll relate to this one....


utspg19801 karma

Paul, I haven't owned a pair of cap toe shoes in years.

I have large feet, but short toes. So in the past whenever I bought cap toes that fit, this always resulted in the bending crease either being right on the seam itself, or on the toe part of the shoe (not the arch...where it's supposed to be). I hope I've explained that sufficiently.

Does AE make a cap toe shoe with a shorter toe section? Or is there a way I can break in a regular pair of cap toes so that they will bend/crease in the desired section? Any other suggestions you might have (besides don't buy cap toes)?

badger05111 karma

The Park Avenues have pretty short cap toes compared to most competitors. I don't know how you've been sizing, but you should select your length size based on your heel-to-instep size, not heel-to-toe size. I've got the same thing as you... my heel-to-toe is size 12.5, but my heel-to-instep size is 13.

AllenEdmondsCEO2 karma

I have the same longer foot to shorter toes issue. The last of the PA (our 65 last -- the "last" is what the mold around which the shoe is made is called, btw) is long at the toe, but narrow at the ball of the foot and can cut off a long-arched foot on the pinky. It can get painful, as I well know. Two things that you can easiliy do to solve it -- 1) buy a shoe just one half size longer or one width wider; 2) buy shoes on our 8 last, our 606 last or our newest last coming out next year -- the 201 last -- that will have more room in the pinky area but otherwise looks a ton like the 65 in terms of its All American toe shape.

utspg19801 karma

Paul, do you play any sports besides golf? Do you go to the gym? Do you ever have to go out in the yard and do dirty work?

I'm trying to ascertain if there is ever a situation in your life where AE is not suitable footwear. In those instances, what shoes do you wear?

AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

Yes to all questions -- but not often enough, especially the yard work if you ask my wife. I run in Asics. I do yard work in a 20 year old pair of Merrell boots which already have lawn mowing grass stains (I want to keep my AE boots fresh for wearing out and about). I play tennis (rarely, due to my bad rotator cuff and sore knees, from a lot of throwing over the years and from my legs growing too fast in junior high) in Nikes.

qoxer1 karma

Im 21, I only own sneakers (apart from some low quality dressier shoes) what kind of shoe should i buy as my first real shoe and why?

AllenEdmondsCEO7 karma

Depends on the job you want when you're 23. A ton of young guys are buying the Walnut STRANDS for their first serious shoe. You won't go wrong. The "why" is because it's stylish for your age but mature, it's versatile so you can wear them anytime you're wearing pants and be fashion-right, they'll last you for years, women will stop you on the street or in the elevator and say they like them (which happens to me and that's a first time thing, I'll tell you), future bosses will be impressed, and your buddies will be envious. A ten-strike!

Burlin1 karma

What is THE best shoe?

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

It depends! On the occasion, the rest of your dress, the weather.... However, if I were to pick my favorite and today's most versatile, it would be the STRAND in either our Walnut color or the new Bob's Chili color. You can wear them with jeans, khakis, socks, no socks -- or put them on with your best business suit and wear to your most important meeting or life event. Guys are getting married in them and chairing board meetings in them, as well as going to football games. It's a great shoe for travelling because you can wear it all day.

sklark232 karma

If I remember correctly, you brought the Strands from the archives since it was your favorite design?

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

Correct. They caused a fond memory for me of my early days as a banker in Frankfurt, Germany (West Germany then) trying to have enough gravitas as a stumbling German-speaker to do business with highly experienced German CFOs and Treasurers, even though I was at an age when most Germans of serious student pursuits were still in University.

Glycerine12 karma

The AE website does not show the STRAND in Bob's Chili. Is that something we can look forward to soon?

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

Yes. Coming in early November.

MRBACON8ER-1 karma

one more thing there has been some questionable posting on your companies social media http://ink361.com/app/users/ig-468590757/allenedmonds/photos/ig-823228491998419952_468590757 do agree with this type of posting?

it seems a little beneath "an American original"

AllenEdmondsCEO5 karma

I just saw it. I appreciate your feedback.

musicmerchkid-1 karma

Paul, I hope you see this. Can you start a shoe brand geared towards young men who are not quite at the level in the career to afford Allen Edmonds but want to up their shoe game. Maybe between 100-150 for an oxford?

AllenEdmondsCEO2 karma

I'm answering lingering questions tonight. See my response to the "Common Man" post (Fanfare for the Common Man is one of my favorite pieces of music, btw). We already do. Buy our factory seconds from the Shoebank or one of our outlet stores around the country. Our seconds are an amazing bargain and a great way to begin with good shoes. And if you still can't afford them, send me an email.

alent1234-3 karma

are your shoes better than geoxx? used to wear mephisto but their quality went way down since the 90's.

and how long will your shoes last with daily wear?

AllenEdmondsCEO4 karma

Geoxx's are after a different usage/benefits profile. Our soles do not have air holes in them, although high quality leathers do breathe and your feet need airflow to keep them healthy. That's one reason why some methods of waterproofing are not good for you on a frequent basis. Our shoes will last 10-20 years (even longer -- we get shoes from the '70s and '80s in for Recrafting all the time, sometimes even from the '40s- and '50s), if you take care of them. As the poster below says, "daily wear" is not a good idea for any shoe, though. It's not good for your feet or the shoes.

paulisnofun-19 karma

Care to hook a fellow Paul up with a free pair of size 13 shoes (black)?

AllenEdmondsCEO10 karma

Slippery Slope. Our shoes are an incredible investment value. With Recrafting at the right time and good care, they'll last 10-20 years. I'll be you can afford them, especially with our Rediscover America Sale going on right now. There are 13 styles in multiple colors available for huge discounts. www.allenedmonds.com

Shameless plug, but hey, we're here to make people happy. Offering a wide range of sizes and widths in our offering make us almost unique in today's shoe industry. We're your shoe company at size 13 -- wide or narrow and all in between.