Alden is arguably the best-made American shoe available to buy today. The company was founded in 1884 by Charles H. Alden in Middleborough, Massachusetts. Alden is the only original New England shoe-maker remaining from the dozens or hundreds that were in existence in the first half of the Twentieth Century. Alden survived by focusing on quality construction and continues to be family-owned.
The shoes are available in calf or shell cordovan. The pair below is one of my favorites. A cordovan wingtip with a heavy Goodyear-welted sole this shoe will last for years. For those of you not familiar, shell cordovan is horsehide (and, coincidentally, usually from the horse’s ass . . .). The only company in the United States currently producing shell cordovan is the Horween Leather Company. Shell cordovan is expensive, rare and extremely durable.
Other features of Alden shoes: hand-stained and polished leathers, leather insoles, full leather lining, a layer of cork under the insole for additional comfort and a tempered steel shank. The shoes are expensive – Alden’s nearest competitor is probably Allen Edmonds and Alden is more expensive – but if quality is important to you these are the best.
Alden are not widely distributed but not terribly difficult to find. The company’s website (which is not e-commerce enabled) has a store finder. J. Crew has had a partnership for the past few years. There is also a retailer with stores in New York and Brooklyn – Epaulet (whose owners have a great eye and taste level) that has a relationship with Alden and produces the occasional exclusive via special order.