While shoe manufacturing has been mostly outsourced overseas for mass-market demands - Alden has stalwartly focused on a hand-crafted, high-quality product that has remained relatively unchanged for 135+ years.
Founded in 1884 by Charles H. Alden in Middleborough, Massachusetts - shoemaking was already the predominant industry in New England of the time, second only to farming. Out of the hundreds of shoemakers in New England during the nineteenth century, Alden is the last one standing - continuing their commitment to the quality that can only be delivered by generational craftsmanship.
Just prior to the founding of Alden, the Goodyear welted process of sole stitching was invented in America, making it easier to resole shoes than ever before and defining a new generation of quality as aesthetic.
A Goodyear welt is a strip of leather sewn around the bottom edge of a shoe - attached to both the insole and the upper. The welt can be easily unstitched, replacing a worn-out sole without losing any structural integrity.
Invented in 1869 by Charles Goodyear Jr. (the son of the inventor responsible for rubber vulcanization and the namesake behind Goodyear Tires) in Newark, New Jersey - Goodyear soles add a chunkier, rugged aesthetic that was characteristic of western footwear.
Alden uses lasts (?) with a reputation for being bulkier than their European counterparts - Alden shoes have the benefit of comfort and an overall larger “American” silhouette. Additionally, shoes are left on their lasts for several days for a pre break-in period, making them more comfortable from day one.
The different last models that Alden uses ensures that various foot types can find a comfortable fit. This short list of Alden lasts relates specifically to what we have in stock.
Copley: Copley Lasts produce a mid/narrow fit and are slightly longer than standard U.S. sizing. (These Penny Loafers are built with the Copley.)
Plaza: Plaza Lasts also produce a similar mid/narrow fit to the Copley, but just a touch narrower and longer. (These Dress Boots are built with the Plaza.)
Barrie: Barrie Lasts are about a ½ size larger than standard U.S. sizing with a wider toe box. (These Bluchers are built with the Barrie.)
Leydon: Leydon Lasts are right in the middle - neither narrow nor wide - and fit approximately to standard U.S. sizing. (These Chukka Boots are built with the Leydon.)
(Size appropriately to how you’d want your shoes to look and feel - whether you like thick socks, a roomier or tighter fit and also consider eventual stretching of softer leather types like suede.)
Along with producing traditional men’s shoes, Alden has pioneered the field of orthopedic design for fit and balance that began with retooling for the military during WWII and was perfected by the 70’s. Their leathers are mainly sourced from small tanneries in the US and Europe and are still made in Massachusetts by multi-generational craftsmen.
Built to last, look good and fit comfortably for a lifetime...