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Shoes that look better with age...


kiya

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If you are thinking about buying Alden's, or any other big name boots, check out Rose Anvil on youtube. He cuts boots in half to examine their materials and construction. The Alden Indy video may be enlightening.

 

 

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On 12/9/2023 at 11:58 AM, willi said:

How do you like the size of your loafers compared to your mocs? Do you wear the same size on both lasts?

I have camp mocs in buckaroo that I like a lot. It's a great option for a casual American style.

I'm a 12D in the loafers and 13B in the mocs. Rancourt customer service helped with sizing. Brannock is 13B. My feet are a bit wonky though - both are almost completely flat and my left is a full brannock size shorter than the right - so take my advice and experience with that in mind. Their lasts seem to work well for my feet which can be a challenge. Both were only about $120 new at their pre-sale too and at that price I can't complain, nicer than most options in that price range. Paying the full $320 MSRP may have been a different story though.

I agree with your thoughts on the shell though. If I'm going to pay for shell, I'd rather just grab the Alden LHS. Rancourt's are a bit rough and ready in styling in my experience, which isn't a bad thing for chromexcel and some of their moc-styled option but sort of defeats the purpose of buying shell for loafers. I'm not a huge fan of Rancourt's full strap and weltline loafers. The extra couple of hundred dollars for Alden is definitely worth it for those. I do like their more rugged offerings though (boots, mocs, beefrolls, etc.). I live in a more rugged place though, so the moc stylings work pretty well here.

Edited by yung_flynn
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2 hours ago, mlwdp said:

Not a fan of Rose Anvil.  Very biased.

Never heard of it, but sans judgements, the facts in that video are interesting, and definitely don't make me regret never purchasing Alden. Not that I will ever spend that much on any shoe anyways. Where do you think the bias lies? 

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The rose anvil review misrepresents the intent of the boot by reducing its value to a sum of parts, as if buying a shoe is equivalent to shopping for a table saw. First of all, cultural value matters. Alden is the most iconic American clothing brand still manufactured in the USA. The styles are timeless. The quality hasn't meaningfully changed in decades. Again, if you want Aldens, there's really no alternative. Grant Stone has comparable styles but is manufactured (well) in China with trendy leathers that cater to a younger audience.

The review also sensationalizes a number of points or presents opinion as fact. The rebuttal here is good and makes the points better than I could: https://100wears.com/in-defense-of-the-alden-indy/

 

 

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2 hours ago, Duke Mantee said:

I’ve never heard of him until @buler posted that vid 

Do you think what he says is technically correct despite being biased? Watching that Alden vid is pretty damning regarding the quality.

@Duke Mantee, I take pretty much everything on the internet with a grain of salt. I think when the boots are cut in half and the materials used are layed out for all to see, it's up to each person to judge the quality and value.

I know that he has shown some interesting construction shortcuts that many of the makers have used. If I'm buying something for $100s or $1000s of dollars, I'm going to look into all of the details before shelling out money.

I also want to point out I have no affiliation with Rose Anvil and no grudge against Alden. Just giving people another piece of input.

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"Cultural value" is the biggest way any brand tries to mark up the shit out of their products. I won't say it's not actual value, but I will say it has no correlation to the cost of labor, materials, and logistics. It's horseshit when factored into msrp. 

That doesn't mean the Aldens are objectively overpriced - that's in the eye of the buyer - but if there is similar labor, materials etc in another shoe then you can figure Alden is likely goosing their msrp by more and trading on their name, and it's up to an individual if they want to pay the extra if the last is really perfect for them, or if they really want the name or whatever. It's why LVC is such a ripoff imo, unless, for whatever reason, as some have argued, the cut is just magic for you when nothing else is.

The leather itself on the pair reviewed is enough to turn me off - I'm not much of a boot guy but I hate that sort of finish and it really does look cheap imo. 

Edited by AlientoyWorkmachine
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48 minutes ago, willi said:

One might argue that the existence of cultural value is evidenced by a hobbyist forum dedicated to importing premium denim from Japan.

Sure - but one does not pay for that.

I never said cultural value doesn't exist - only that as an "intangible" it is a standing to divorce actual product from cost of production when coming up with msrp. It's no different than what the luxury brands - that often offer an inferior product at three to five (or more) times the price of some retailers referenced on this forum - trade on. 

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Even if other expensive/similarly-priced boots are built from similar, average quality materials, then as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t justify the price (“they’re charging $X so we will too”). Instead it makes me think there’s a bit of price fixing going on here and I’ll think very carefully before I buy.

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12 hours ago, Mtvare said:

I had seen that video and it was one of the things that put me off. But from my relatively brief review of his videos, it seems he says most boots are crap? (I'm not interested enough in the technical side of it to watch a lot of that content.)

He's a big fan of PNW boots like White's/Nicks's. Never really seemed biased. Never seen him even mention Thursday boots.

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I've been watching Rose Anvil for a couple of years. Weston Kay started out as a leather worker, making leather goods and accessories. Somehow he got into cutting footwear in half to see how they were made, and give his thoughts of the quality of materials, construction, marketing, and cost. At first, he didn't know much about footwear construction, but has educated himself considerably. From what I've seen, he's not affiliated or sponsored by any brand, including Thursday (he's done several reviews cutting them). He does do a lot of collaborations now, particularly with Nick's and recently White's. He gets footwear sent to him from many brands to cut in half and review, and he always discloses what has been sent to him and what he's bought. He's spent a considerable sum of his own funds, derived from the channel income, no doubt. 

Re: Alden Indy boots quality and cost - "cultural value" is a load of F'g BS. If someone finds their boots valuable enough to spend what they're currently asking, and enjoys them for what they are, then that's their choice. But when their materials are evaluated for cost and quality, and compared to other brands, they are vastly over priced. When I joined this forum 10 years ago and started learning more about footwear, the Indy's had just gone up in price considerably. Members hear were saying that not that long prior they were sub $300. At that time I recall they were $505. Now they're $655???!!! WTF???!!! F' that!!! Even with inflation, those boots still aren't worth the asking price, even if they are considered a refined "dress boot" and not a work boot. 

Grant Stone may be made in China, however they're made by some of the better shoe makers anywhere. The father of the brothers who founded Grant Stone used to work for Alden for decades, and was fundamental in their footwear designs (it's obvious as many details are almost exact copies of Alden's. Now, are they Alden's original details?). The quality of materials, details and craftsmanship of their Diesel boot is superior to the Indy, in my experience. 

Saying all that, what are other comparable brands, besides Grant Stone? Maybe Tricker's, or another UK maker? Thursday look like lower quality. There have to be others that I can't think of right now. 

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  • 3 weeks later...

My Rancourt Byron boots in Black Essex from their summer pre-saw finally arrived. Despite the wait I’m happy with them and the value at the pre-sale price feels reasonable. Feels like they will pair well with my TCB 50s and WW2 chinos

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I love Alden and my Alden shoes, but with the latest price increase (approaching $700 for non-shell and over $900 for most shell models), the value question gets trickier.  All of my first-quality Aldens purchased over the past few years have had issues -- some minor/cosmetic, but others more serious (vamp stitching coming undone requiring factory repair, serious puckering on another that boggles the mind how it made it through QC).  In fact, I purchased a pair of shell tassel loafers seconds with fewer serious issues than pairs I paid full price for, so that might be the way to go unless you can purchase a pair in person and really look them over.

That said, the lasts, designs, and overall elegance of Alden shoes are all still incredible and unique and they're still my go-to when I have the shoe itch.

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I'm on the Alden train as well. I've only ever had a small issue with one of the 6 pairs I've owned and that was some loose stitching on the vamp of a pair of boots. I'm more than set on footwear for the next decade +, but the price increases have really made my 'grail' pair of shell Indy boots more unlikely.

Rose Anvil is just a dude on the internet with an opinion. I've always gotten the impression that he was looking for 'the best' and has found that to be PNW work boots. If that's what he needs in a boot, great for him, but we don't all need the same things. I haven't seen anyone ragging on Nick's for their lack of shell loafers or wingtips...

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John Lofgren Wabash engineer boots, Shinki Horsebutt edition. Day one.


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For me, this is the ultimate black engineer boot. The construction is immaculate. The materials sublime. The silhouette, iconic.

I had been wearing a pair of black Wesco Mister Lous, after enjoying Wesco's cinnamon-colored 7500 engineers the last 4+ years. However, I'm switching from the Mister Lous to these for a couple reasons. One, my preference for black engineer boots is different from brown, I've realized. I like the all-black look on these, and the more classic profile. I feel the Wescos are more slim and modern looking, intended to be worn with slimmer fitting jeans for a sleeker, edgier look, and between the brown midsole edges and white stitchdown contrast, it makes the boot look too visually busy for me. I will say that although not quite as cool as the Shinki horsebutt, the Maryam horsehide of the Wescos does compare quite favorably. The Lofgren profile has a bit more visual presence and I prefer it over some, such as Clinch, which I feel are too flat-looking in the toe. The stuff you get on the (even more) expensive engineers like Clinch and Role Club, such as hand-stitched welting, is past the point of diminishing returns for me. IMO, the best reason to go with boots like that, are if you really need them bespoke lasted for your feet. It'd be nice to have, but these are good enough for me.

Interestingly, these Lofgrens are noticeably lighter than the Wescos. This is actually a good thing for me, as the weight of the Wescos was quite fatiguing. I suspect this is because Lofgren uses a cork footbed, and Wesco, oak bark tanned leather. While technically the latter is a "superior" construction technique, it probably makes little difference if you're not a logger or firefighter, certainly not for my casual wearing of the boots.

The 110 last is the same as my Lofgren Steadfast boots, so I took 10.5, same as in those.  There's a slight narrowness in the outer toes of the right foot (my right foot being slightly larger than the left), but with the Steadfast boot, that settled in as I wore the boots and is no longer really noticeable, so I think the same will be the case here. As usual, my low profile, low instep feet demand that I tighten the instep strap as tight as freaking possible, but I like the look, and it feels snug enough around the ankle now.

Some examples of these boots have ridiculously hexagoned leather grain, which is a bit much for me; but I lucked out on my pair, which have, to my eyes, just the right amount of grain, and should form some nice rolls with wear.

Wonderful boots which are sure to be my most worn pair for the foreseeable future.

Edited by Cold Summer
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Got my 8196 resoled after 5 years wear so treated them to a Japanese style Saphir scrub up.

Pictures don’t really do it justice and I’m sure the shine will last approx 10 minutes but I don’t hate it.

 

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I’ve only used Saphir but I gave them a healthy amount of their Medaille d’Or Renovateur (macadamia oil) and then a brown Pate De Luxe.

The colour match wasn’t perfect on the wax but I’ve got gear-shift stains on the top from motorcycle riding so as in the photo the toes are much darker than the rest of the boot.

Buffing brought the shine out, I probably could’ve gone a bit further with it but I didn’t want a mirror gloss.

 

 

Edited by 81FXR
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@Cold Summer love those boots and actually ordered the same this past fall, but returned due to construction / QC issues. Unfortunately you could see nails in the heel counter and the sole stitching was broken in places. I was pretty bummed to have received them with those defects, but luckily Freenote (where I ordered them from) has a great return policy (ie: money back vs store credit or some other form of ‘return’ allowance). I’m waiting to see if Lofgren does another Shinki engineer, or in a leather outside of CXL, but also debating on a pair of Attractions which I’ve tried on and are very nice, IMO.

In any case, looking forward to seeing how your pair comes along; great pair of boots!

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@toothSorry you had some issues with yours. I looked over mine pretty closely and I'm happy to say I can't find anything wrong with them, but I suppose even a top end brand like JL makes mistakes sometimes.

I looked at a similar pair by Attractions and thought they looked really nice. I slightly preferred the profile of the Lofgren boots, and the fact that I knew exactly which size would work for me in their boots.

 

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15 hours ago, 81FXR said:

Got my 8196 resoled after 5 years wear so treated them to a Japanese style Saphir scrub up.

Pictures don’t really do it justice and I’m sure the shine will last approx 10 minutes but I don’t hate it.

I've used Saphir a couple of times recently (mainly due to other people's opinions) and was generally not happy with the results. I used to use a German made Renapur for years, for different leathers, and was always happy with it. At some point, I learnt that Goto-san (White Kloud) uses Renapour. That basically closed the topic for me. Renapur rules.

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