Since 1922, Allen Edmonds has been in the business of producing men’s footwear. Where other makers of men’s shoes have diluted their lines, sending much of their production overseas, Allen Edmonds has largely resisted the impulse.
Now, here’s the rub: I’m not exactly the world’s most dedicated partisan for Allen Edmonds shoes. Some things they do well. Take the chukka, for example. My son owns a pair of Allen Edmonds chukkas, and I think they are a fine product.
But, in general, I find their shoes, even on the narrowest of the lasts they offer, less elegant than their English and Italian brethren. It may have something to do with 360 degree welt they use. But the result in a shoe that is less aesthetically pleasing than other Goodyear welted footwear.
Still, I am glad to live in a world with Allen Edmonds around. My black Park Avenues are my go-to shoe for situations that call for the most conservative attire. They’re a sturdy, well-made product. And, except for Alden, Allen Edmonds is the only major producer of men’s dress shoes left in America.
The other day, I stopped in the Allen Edmonds store in River Oaks. Many of the usual suspects were in attendance. But something stood out: The Rutledge, a shoe I had never seen before. It was far from typical in the Allen Edmonds universe. The waist was elegantly narrow, the toe was slightly squared off and the leather had a very appealing burnishing to it. Out of context, I might have pegged the Rutledge as a refugee from the Santoni Fatte a Mano line. But Allen Edmonds it was, and it’s earned a spot on my wish list.