What happened to the Internet’s obsession with Alden? It was just a few years ago when you couldn’t get through a day’s worth of blog reading without coming across a post gushing about the New England shoe brand. Today, you rarely see the company’s name mentioned, and most people seem to have moved on to other things (obscure Japanese shoemakers and rare sneakers, mostly).
Meanwhile, I’ve been finding myself coming back to Alden. True, their lasts aren’t the sleekest and the shoes can look a bit clunky, but sometimes a heftier looking shoe is what’s needed to go with a pair of jeans or some tweed trousers. Plus, they have a distinct American sensibility that really appeals.
In their permanent collection, some of my favorites include:
- The Leisure Handsewn: Possibly one of the best penny loafers on the market, Alden’s Leisure Handsewn (colloquially referred to as the LHS) is handsewn right on the last. My favorite versions are the shell cordovan makes, which include Horween’s color 8 (known as the 986), cigar shell (6717), black (987), and Ravello (67540). The color 8 and black models are offered in unlined constructions through Brooks Brothers. The upside to that version is that, once in a blue moon, Brooks Brothers will include it in their 25% off mid-season sales.
- Flex welt shoes: Alden has a number of shoes built on their special flex welt outsoles, which is a thin, heavily oiled piece of leather that’s both water resistant and more comfortable out-the-box. I particularly like the chukkas in dark brown suede (known as the 1492), snuff suede (1493), and tan suede (1494). There’s also an unlined penny loafer in dark brown suede (6245F), snuff suede (6243F), and tan suede (6244F). Truthfully, I like the moc-toe style of Rancourt more in this case, but those won’t come with these slipper-like outsoles.
- Wingtips: Still one of the best gunboat-shaped lace-ups, Alden’s longwings go excellently with everything from classic flannel trousers to slim-fitting jeans. You can find these in the more rounded toe Barrie last or the more shapely Plaza. Materials include everything from calfskin (black, new dark tan, dark brown, and natural Chromexcel) to shell cordovan (color 8, cigar shell, and black). If you stop by some stores, they may also have a few discontinued materials on sale. Just ask for them specifically, as they’re typically not displayed on the shop’s floor.
- Boots: The Indy boot is Alden’s bestseller, but they can also be a bit ubiquitous (particularly if you frequent “hip” spots). For something more unique, I like their simple cap toe boots, such as the 4060 model (a color 8 shell cordovan built on their Grant last) and 39702 (a snuff suede boot built on the rounder Barrie). There are also some really nice Modified-lasted boots in this StyleForum thread.
Finally, there are the hundreds of special makes Alden produces for stores around the world. Leffot, LeatherSoul, The Bureau Belfast, Need Supply, Winn Perry, Lakota House, and Unionmade are all good places to start.
My next footwear purchase? Probably the color 8 shell cordovan loafers you see above. To be worn with chinos and Shetland sweaters this fall.