Monday, February 16, 2009

Recession-savvy footwear: Recrafting/resoling shoes

If you need a pair of workhorse dress or dress casual shoes in this tough economy, read on.

Recrafting option

For recrafting, all you need is a nearby Goodwill, Salvation Army or thrift shop and a little luck. If you have a favorite thrift shop, you've probably seen an occasional pair of Allen-Edmonds or Alden shoes. In the past, you might have passed on them, especially if they were a bit beaten up or scuffed. But think again if you're on a budget these days.

A brand new pair of AE shoes can retail for $325 (and more for Alden dress shoes). But you can buy those used AE shoes for $10 and send them to the AE Recrafting program for $95. Alden has a similar program through its retailers (as do many of the English shoemakers based in Northampton like Crockett & Jones and Edward Green but these will be pricier than the US makers).

AE Thayer monk

You'll get back a pair of shoes that will be re-welted, re-soled, re-heeled and refinished. Depending on the original condition, you could get back a nearly new looking pair of shoes for about $200 less than retail. Here's an AE pair (bought new about a year ago) after it was recrafted by AE.

AE Thayer monk

You might recognize this as the AE Thayer monk strap which uses the 8 last. The beauty of the AE recrafting program is that you can specify a different outsole from what it originally came with. In this case, I requested the Titan rubber outsole which is similar to the hard-wearing British Dainite sole.

One final note: Many members of the various men's clothing forums dismiss AE and Alden, finding them to lack the "elegance" and "style" of English or Italian makes. This is a bit sweeping. To my eye anyway, the AE 8 last, as shown above, is a perfectly fine and elegant last.


The other option of course is to breath new life in your worn out pair of Goodyear welted shoes by resoling them. You do have a pair of welted shoes I hope? You can go to the original maker as mentioned above (which is preferred since they work off the original last). Or you can ask an experienced cobbler to resole your shoes. A skilled cobbler can do an amazing job in restoring a pair of shoes as this Styleforum thread illustrates. If you don't know of a good cobbler locally, check the links below.

Not sure what kind of replacement outsole or heels you need? The UnionWorks website has a pretty exhaustive list of resoling options.

Additional links
- AskAndy thread on Allen Edmonds recrafting
- AskAndy thread on resoling Brooks Bros Peal shoes
- Cobblestone resoling service (St. Louis)
- B. Nelson resoling service (New York) and an accompanying Styleforum thread
- Official Dainite website (aka Harboro Rubber) and Styleforum thread
- Shoe Service Institute of America - Need a cobbler but don't live in NY or St. Louis? Use the locator function on the SSIA website to find one in your city or state.
- Time Magazine article on thriving cobblers in the current economy - Interesting article that was published after I posted this entry

Updated 11/24/09


Anonymous said...

Hello - Greetins from London. i really enjoy your blog. How do I contact you? Thanks and best, Archer

Man Hoang said...

Is B. Nelson the best resoling service in New York?

sleevehead said...

Archer - I've sent you an email. You can also reach me at sleevehead [at]

Man - I hesitate to name any place the "best" since it is very difficult to back up those kinds of statements. However, from what I've read of other customer experiences, here's a list of NYC cobblers who come with positive comments:

- B. Nelson (1211 6th Ave)
- Jim’s Shoe Repairing (50 East 59th St b/w Park & Madison)
- Alex’s Shoe Repair (44th St b/w Vanderbilt & Madison)
- Continental Shoe (Barclay b/w Broadway & Church)
- Stanley’s Cobble Shop (Thames St b/w Broadway & Church)

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James Becker said...

Those shoes, while lovely, bring a whole new meaning to "camel-toe".