Skip to content

The first pair of Aldens

I’ve been into nice looking footwear since at least high school. I remember begging my parents for a pair of Nike’s because they were what the popular kids were wearing. I’m pretty sure I wore something like these from high school through college.

Of course in college I occasionally found that I needed to wear something nicer than sneakers. And of course I also knew nothing about leather dress shoes and what a quality all purpose dress shoe was. As a result I think I ended up getting a pair of Johnston & Murphy tasseled brown loafers. I thought they were cool, but in hind sight they really were not a shoe that could be worn with a suit or in all business dress situations. To top things off, I also didn’t really know how to care for leather shoes with a leather sole. I would wear them in the rain and then wear them the next day. I don’t think I ever waxed or polished them. The result was a pair of shoes that probably cost me $120 that lasted me for maybe a year and a half.

It’s been quite a long time since those days and as I started getting into fashion, I did some research on different brands of shoes and methods of construction. I read up on Blake construction, Goodyear construction, lasts, leather quality, and a ton of other things that went into making a quality shoe that would last for ten years or more. Since I was also interested in shoes that were American made, there were a couple of names that kept coming up and those were Allen Edmond and Alden. I was looking for both a dress shoe and a boot. In the end I went with Alden for the boot, because Allen Edmond’s boot offerings at the time were just not compelling.

When it comes to Alden boots there are a number of options, but the one that almost everyone says to start with is the Alden 403, which is more commonly known as the Indy Boot because it is the boot Harrison Ford wore in the Indiana Jones movies.

I looked closely at this boot, but already had a darker brown boot. I started looking for other styles, but Alden really only offers the Indy in Brown CXL, Black CXL, Natural CXL, and Brown Calfskin all with Neo-Cork Outsoles. Since I was thinking of wearing these in the winter, I really wanted some tread on the soles.

The good news is that Alden does do collaborations with a number of their dealers. My first searches lead me to Leather Soul in Hawaii who did not have a Natural CXL with a commando sole. It was at this point that I happened upon Leffot who happened to be doing a pre-order for the Natural CXL with a commando sole. As with most things that I’ve gotten, a long wait was involved (about five months in this case).

In August the boots finally arrived.

You can see that the Natural CXL has many different looks when it is brand new depending on the lighting. Of course it didn’t take long for some mishaps to happen.

Concrete scrape after slipping on the garage stairs.
Small gouge from a bleacher at a high school football game.

I just used some spit to rub out the spots which caused a noticeable color change. Of course I had learned something about how to care for CXL leather and leather shoes in general and didn’t freak out. After all, part of owning a quality piece of clothing that will last for years is making it yours and developing a patina. After a few more wears I treated the boots with some coconut oil and the scuffs became less noticeable. After a little more than a year the boots have begun to develop a nice patina and really look nothing like the shade they were when they first arrived.

I really do love these boots and they are so comfortable that I am looking at getting a pair of suede shoes built on a similar last. If you are interested in looking at a variety of Alden makeups then I’d suggest that you start with either Alden of Carmel, Brick + Mortar, or Brogue. All of these shops have a ton of experience selling Alden footwear, a plethora of custom makeups, and excellent customer service. They can help you determine your sizing if you don’t happen to have a local shop that carries Alden products. Even though these are rather expensive shoes, I really would encourage folks to consider them as they may last for 20 years.