With many things pertaining to smarter modes in menswear, I’m often late to the party. I didn’t fully understand the pleasure (or importance) of a well-tailored suit or what went into a well-made shoe until my late 30s. When I “discovered” things like Warby Parker, J.Crew’s Ludlow suits, Kamakura or The Tie Bar, I learned that other smartasses in the menswear ether had known about them for years. I don’t claim to be inventing any wheels here, and I will never pretend to be an expert. We get there when we get there.
Another party to which I arrived late is Alden. To be clear, I’ve certainly been aware of Alden and their gold standard in American shoe and boot making for a long time. In fact, I’ve been coveting a pair of Alden’s cordovan chukka boots for several years. My new arrival to the Alden party comes in the form of actually owning a pair.
The only thing that had stopped me from getting a pair sooner was the price. For a lot of men (myself included), $675 is a lot for a pair of shoes. But I see it this way: an American-made shoe created with this level of style, quality and craftsmanship is an investment. With regular care and maintenance of the leather uppers and the soles, along with cedar shoe trees between wearings, these timeless kickers will last longer than me.
Alden is a family-owned business founded in 1884 by Charles H. Alden in Middleborough, Massachusetts, and it remains the last original shoe and boot making company in New England. Made with only the finest materials and with superlative standards of craftsmanship, Alden shoes and boots are among the finest shoes a man can find. A pair of Alden shoes or boots is a “get.”
A couple of weeks ago when I was over on Madison Avenue picking up new shirts from Kamakura, I meandered past the Alden store just below 44th Street. Since it was the first time in a long time where a $700 swipe on the debit card wouldn’t hurt, I decided to finally pull the trigger. With a new pair of cordovan chukka boots and cedar shoe trees in my bag, I left the Alden store fully confident that I had made the right decision.
And they’re beautiful. Made with genuine shell cordovan, a textured Goodyear welt and a leather sole, the color is a deep burgundy (or “oxblood”) that looks almost black. Whether with a suit or jeans, the subsequent wearings I’ve enjoyed – and the compliments I’ve gotten – since buying them have only confirmed that I did, indeed, make the right decision. It’s also worth mentioning that they were instantly comfortable, with none of the break-in blisters that often come with well-crafted shoes with a Goodyear welt and a substantial sole.
My absolute love of my new Aldens is not to discount my appreciation of my other dress shoes like my Kenmoor Imperial long wingtips and bluchers from Florsheim (a collection of shoes they’ve made since the late 1940s) or the other wingtip brogues I’ve gotten from J.Crew. No. They are all classically handsome, well-made and affordable solutions that I still treat with the same care, and they’ve never let me down. (And with the care I give them, they will also last longer than me.) Aside from the fact that Alden makes the definitive chukka boot in my opinion, I also wanted to have a piece of an unparalleled American-made brand that I’ve long admired. Considering what goes into them and that they will never ever go out of style, they’re worth every penny.
Just like I was late in discovering Stan Getz (in my early 20s), Led Zeppelin (in my late 20s) and Miles Davis (in my late 30s), I didn’t catch the Alden train until my early 40s. But I don’t think it really matters when you ultimately discover something. The point is that you do and that you appreciate and enjoy what you’ve discovered. And I am really appreciating and enjoying what I’ve discovered with my new pair of Alden chukka boots.