Allen Edmonds Elevates American Style for Modern Shoes

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 6.00.28 PMBased just a handful of miles north of Milwaukee in the quiet port town of Port Washington, Wisc., Allen Edmonds Shoes takes on some of the world's biggest desginer brands in the upscale shoe business.

Established in 1922, Allen Edmonds makes both upscale retail and custom, bespoke shoes for men looking to upgrade their look into the realm of luxury and classic fashion. Made from elite ingredients and hand built to precise specifications, Allen Edmonds shoes are less of a simple shopping choice and more of an investment in how a man presents himself to the world.

While Allen Edmonds might not be as globally recognized as the European designer brands like Armani, Hugo Boss, Gucci, Versace and Ferragamo, their shoes can go toe to toe with any of those legendary names in design, styling, construction and materials.

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While dress shoes built Allen Edmonds' reputation, the company also makes more casual, comfort-centric shoes for everyday wear or use away from the office or nightlife destinations. Whether a loafer, a moccasin style or a boat shoe, these are not your everyday knock around footwear. Even the more easygoing entries in the Allen Edmonds line will step up your game.

(I promise that's the last foot/shoe based pun I'll make. Classy shoes deserve a better class of wit.)

I had a chance to look over and test a few pairs of these elite shoes, comparing them to the other footwear in my collection. I tried out (and will continue to do so with) a pair of Neumok, Upper West Side Cap Toes and Fifth Avenue Oxfords.

The styling choices in each are distinct. The Neumok is the most casual of the bunch, with tempered blue leather suitable for casual pants or even blue jeans. The Fifth Avenue is much more sophisticated and subtle, with its tan tones and less aggressive decorative stitching lining the cap. Finally, the Upper West Side moves more into the classic Oxford wingtip range — suitable for everything from a suit to more formal wear.

In every case, the shoes are a revelation. Delicate to the touch, but tough in service, they break in quickly and stay looking smart throughout use — as long as you're sharp enough to keep them polished. I've reviewed custom made shoes from Foster and Son on Jermyn Street, London – footwear made for each individual foot and costing as much as £4,000 — and I'd be hard pressed to tell the difference between those works of art and Allen Edmonds.

My personal favorite product Allen Edmonds offers is perhaps the most everyman item on their roster. It's the Custom MLB shoe — allowing you to choose your colors and favorite Major League logo all on a quality Oxford design. If anyone out in Port Washington wants to send me a pair of Brewers shows, I could live with that.

Now, you pay for quality and genuine style — and you'll pay for Allen Edmonds. While they start north of $600 for Cordovan leather dress shoes, a pair of Allen Edmonds average out around $350-$300. If that's a little out of your budget, there always clearance show options made with every bit of the same quality for around $200. 

No matter what the cost, owning a pair of Allen Edmonds adds a level of eye-catching sophisticated few brands of shoes can manage.