Premium men’s footwear branches into sustainable sneakers

Allen Edmonds takes advantage of a growing interest in casual shoes

Allen Edmonds, a U.S.-based manufacturer and retailer of premium men’s footwear and accessories, and part of the Caleres portfolio, will celebrate its one-hundredth birthday in 2022. Few companies close in on the century mark without surmounting multiple challenges and making a few changes, and Allen Edmonds is no different.

While the company may be best known for dress shoes, it has seen interest in casual footwear grow. This interest has accelerated during the pandemic — while the Park Avenue dress shoe has been the company’s best-selling shoe for more than 40 years, “the Allen Edmonds customer is shifting like everyone else from dress to lifestyle looks,” says Keith Duplain, division president, brand portfolio-St. Louis Group with Caleres.

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Casual styles currently make up about 40 percent of the company’s sales; Duplain says it made sense to meet the growing interest in casual styles and meld Allen Edmonds’ best-selling dress styles with a cup sole sneaker design. The sneaker line launched in September 2020.

Just as important as the styling is the line’s ability to be “recrafted,” meaning customers can have their shoes “refreshed from the bottom up,” Duplain says. Recrafting is a throwback to a mostly forgotten practice in which people would extend the life of their dress shoes by getting them resoled. The Allen Edmonds process goes further, offering new outsoles, refinished and hand-polished uppers, and new laces.

Recrafting both saves customers money — the sneakers can run several hundred dollars, while the recrafting package costs $75 — and keeps more shoes out of landfills. Duplain says recrafting gives more than 70,000 Allen Edmonds shoes a second or third life each year.

“We appreciate and support the desire for more sustainable products,” Duplain says; recrafting is one way to meet that need. About 85 percent of Allen Edmond’s active product line is recraftable.

Allen Edmonds will continue to expand its selection of casual and sneaker options, Duplain says, noting that demand “doesn’t look like it will slow down anytime soon.”

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