Before Buying

First of all, congratulations on your decision to purchase an Alden shoe! I hope that this guide will help you in getting into your first pair of Aldens.

Where do I buy a pair?

To start off, the factory does not sell shoes directly. There are two stores that are owned by the Alden Shoe Company and that would be Alden of Washington D.C. and the Alden Shop (a.k.a Alden San Francisco). Besides the “factory stores”, there is a plethora of independently owned retailers who carry Alden shoes. There is a fairly comprehensive list of retailers below.

Most retailers offer the stock models and many of them offer store specific special makeups. It is highly recommended that you form a relationship with your most convenient retailer if possible in order to take advantage of their store unique special models.

What is a last?

Lasts are wood forms over which the shoe is formed on and molded to during the construction process.

What are the different lasts and how do they fit relative to one another?

Source: @REguy, Reference:

How do I size my shoes?

Sizes depends on the Last that the shoe is made around. There is now a page dedicated to sizing here.

What do the different cordovan colors look like?

Alden offers two standard colors of Shell Cordovan (Black and Color #8) and three exotic colors (Cigar, Ravello, and Whiskey) and has very rarely offered a few other colors (Color #4 and Color #2).

Whiskey Color Variation

The Exotic Colors: Cigar, Ravello, and Whiskey Shell Cordovan

@zippy Color Comparison:
@makewayhomer Color Comparison:

Color Variation Sample

All of these shoes are marked and sold as Ravello.
Ravello LWB Party - 2

I feel like I’m buying too many Aldens, what can I do?

1) Give up, there is no hope.
2) Stop reading this FAQ
3) Never talk to @mdubs

Are Alden shoes worth the price?

Alden shoes are some of the best value to be had in men’s footwear, especially when considering Made in the USA. If interested in what can realistically be expected in general regarding “Price Points and What You Get In Return” a very educational and informative read can be found here. The main benefits to Alden are:

1) High quality leathers from a variety of tanneries. Alden typically sources the best of what each tannery is known for, including but not limited to Shell Cordovan, Chromexcel and Chamois from Horween. Dress calf from Annonay. Suedes from C.F. Stead, etc.
2) Willingness to work with retailers (many of whom work with customers) to develop special “make-up” styles.
3) Variety of well-fitting lasts to accommodate various foot shapes.
4) Recraft-ability (by both Alden and a variety of cobblers – see Restoration & Cobblers info further in the FAQ).
5) Reasonable price point when comparing other quality shoemakers using similar materials and construction.
6) Traditional aesthetic (more style than fashion, Alden’s history includes significant orthopedic footwear development, which has them focused equally on both form and function).
7) Simply stated their footwear is comfortable and good looking. Cordovan and suede in particular are eye-catching, tend to earn compliments, and overall enhance a gentleman’s look.

Potential downsides:
1) Distribution is limited, mostly through smaller independent stores. Depending on geography can be difficult to find a local retailer.
2) With a few exceptions, not many core/stock styles available with extended widths beyond C, D and E. However Alden will, without an upcharge, make extended sizes/widths at a retailer’s request whenever possible, but wait times can be significant (4+ months typically).
3) Special make-up styles are always limited quantities, so availability and wait times can be an issue.

Online Purchasing Options

Also, do not forget about the used market, eBay, the StyleForum MarketPlace, and AldenSD Sales area all good places to find used Alden Shoes.