Anonymous asked: Whaddya think of the new(ish) JCrew Ludlow dress shoes that look like Alden knock-offs? Have you seen any in person? How's the quality of the leather?
I’ve seen them in person and they look and feel pretty solid. In fact, J. Crew has seemingly done something quite clever here. After years of working directly with Alden, promoting their styles and reselling their shoes, it appears that they have now gone and basically reproduced the Alden look and feel, while undercutting the price.
If you look closely at the descriptions of the shoes and see them in person, you’ll notice that they advertise all the components you’d want in a quality dress shoe: full-grain Italian uppers, gy welts from Massachusetts, leather soles, etc. However, at the very bottom of each description, you’ll note the word ‘import’ written in italics. Now, J. Crew very smartly likes to advertise the country of origin for many of their ‘artisan’ fabrics and components, and would likely do the same if these shoes were made in England, Italy, or the US. This leads one to the conclusion that these shoes are made in a slightly “less desirable” location, most likely China or India. Not a huge deal obviously (Meermin shoes start in China), but a bit of advertising slight of hand nonetheless (the copy reads: Each pair is Goodyear welted, meaning you can resole them again and again for a lifetime of wear. We get ours from the Barbour Welting Co. in Brockton Massachusetts, a town famous for its shoemaking history). Theses shoes are clearly not constructed in Massachusetts, a la Alden, but J. Crew is taking advantage of this history and association.
All in all, if you like the way the shoes look and they fit well, they’re probably a pretty good value, especially on sale. After all, there’s no way to tell if the construction abroad is any worse or better than what you’d find anywhere else. The $300 pricepoint sits comfortably in the category of ‘quality shoes,’ yet below the market for full price Aldens and around the price of AE, their two direct competitors. J. Crew has basically created a market for mens dress shoes by promoting Alden and has now moved to go in and take back said market on a mass level. It’s pretty smart, kind of underhanded depending on their relationship with Alden, and will likely lead to many sales. The decision to buy them is up to you. Don’t expect Aldens though.
Anonymous asked: Dear Jake, do you like suspenders with clips? I would hate the wear and tear on my pants so I had buttons sewn in.
It’s a personal preference, and I’m not a huge fan in particular, but I’m not overly apoplectic about folks’ suspender choice. Would go with what you prefer and it seems like you’ve got pretty solid reasoning for braces.
Anonymous asked: Ideas for Chelsea boots that you can beat up and aren't too expensive? Like the look of Sid's, but feel they are more dressy. Or would you just stick to desert boots and wear Chelsea's formally
I like to beat up chelsea boots, but they’re inherently a bit more formal than deserts or chukkas. I would check out Meermin or Herring for something a bit more informal or septieme/markowski for a bit more chisel.