A Cautionary Tale: Allen Edmonds ‘Walden’ Loafer
I recently bought a pair of Allen Edmonds ‘Walden’ penny loafers. I wasn’t really in the market for new shoes, but I was bored one afternoon and did a search on ebay for ‘penny loafer 10D’ just to see what it’d turn up.
I already own a pair of penny loafers, but they’re not the greatest quality. They’re some rubber-soled Rockports made out of a shiny corrected grain leather that I picked up on ebay NOS for ~$20. For the price, they’re great, but I am always kind of looking to replace them with a finer pair of traditional burgundy loafers.
Well, that day I thought I was in luck. Someone had just posted a pair of gently used Allen Edmonds ‘Walden’ loafers on ebay hours earlier with a BIN of $29.99. I didn’t even hesitate, just clicked the ‘Buy it Now’ button and checked out.
A few days later the shoes arrived and the condition was as expected. The shoes looked like they’d only been worn a handful of times. And the previous owner had placed some rubber bottoms on the leather soles to prolong their life a bit (while the effectiveness of this tactic is debated I’m a fan, especially when someone else has picked up the tab on the job). The silhouette of the shoes was a bit more sleek than my Rockports, which was also to my liking. I was immediately struck, however, by the look of the leather. It was pretty shiny and plastic-ey looking, much like the Rockports I was seeking to replace. I couldn’t find any visible pores in the leather, and it slowly dawned on me that these were probably made not of full grain leather, but of corrected grain leather.
I’ve mentioned here before that despite being one who sometimes indulges in excessive rambling about menswear on this site, I have little patience for doing that kind of reading myself. I’ve learned a ton over the years from skimming StyleForum and other information-packed fora and blogs about menswear, but I almost always just skim them and pull whatever out of them that I find useful.
Well, that kind of lazy approach to the font of information available online about menswear finally hit home for me. A cursory google search about Allen Edmonds Waldens quickly revealed that they are indeed made of corrected grain leather (as are, incidentally, all AE shoes that come in a color/finish that includes the word ‘polished’ in it) despite their $200+ price tag. My assumption that Allen Edmonds didn’t use corrected grain leather on their shoes was patently false.
And so, I write this post as a cautionary tale to any readers who may be looking for a new penny loafer, but want one made of full grain leather, and have been considering the Allen Edmonds Walden. That said, I’m quite happy with the shoes for the $29 I paid for them though, and think they were well worth that price.