Brands You Should Know

Allen Edmonds

From the battlefields of World War II to the corner offices of America; get the story behind one of the U.S.A.'s finest footwear brands

Traditional American shoe brands have seen a major resurgence over the past few years, thanks in no small part to heritage-obsessed bloggers and other cool-guys-about-town who realized that a woman really does judge a man by his shoes. There’s no more all-American brand than Wisconsin-based Allen Edmonds.

Founded in 1922 in Belgium, Wisconsin, by Mr Elbert W. Allen, the company as we know it today was formed when Allen brought his top salesman Bill Edmonds on as a partner. From the outset, the goal was to create a new kind of shoe company, focussing on good looks blended with innovative technology — a prime example was the use of Goodyear welting to make durable shoes that were nailless and shankless (meaning they had no uncomfortable metal bar under the instep).

The brand has been producing exceptional leather footwear right here in the U.S. of A. since the end of the First World War, but it wasn’t until the Second World War that Allen Edmonds exploded into the mainstream consciousness, by securing a giant contract to provide footwear to the American military. Due to the high quality of the kicks — which are all made from calfskin or cordovan — legions of returning servicemen continued to wear the shoes after the war was over, and continued to buy them for life. It can’t have hurt that four different American presidents wore the company’s signature Park Avenue cap-toe oxfords to their inaugurations, either. (Tip of the hat to Messrs. Bush, Bush, Clinton, and Reagan.)

Today, Allen Edmonds continues to manufacture the vast majority of its footwear here in the States (besides a few select pairs that are made in Italy, and a small amount of stitching that’s undertaken by skilled sewers in the Dominican Republic), and those traditional good looks haven’t faded over the years — a quick scan of the current collection shows a few pairs that would have looked just as at home on the feet of a Rat Pack member as they would worn by a high flying young entrepreneur.

Shop Allen Edmonds on Gilt at noon ET, Tuesday, Sept. 3 >>

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