Everything you Ever Wanted to Know About Alden Shoes

Photo: Alden

An American Original

The Alden Shoe Company was founded in 1884 by Charles H. Alden in Massachusetts. In 1850s a series of inventions led to mechanised stitching and lasting operations and the birth of New England shoe industry followed rapidly. Numerous companies were being started, and demand soared as product made its way west and south on newly expanded rail routes. Then, by 1933 The Great Depression took a toll on countless shoe companies.

The production demand increased again during World War II but by the late 1940s, most of the U.S. shoe manufacturers looked farther away in search of low cost labor and materials to meet the insatiable demand for low cost, mass-market consumer footwear. Those companies who remained in New England could not compete in the demanding post-war economy.

Alden prospered by relying not on lower quality mass-markets but on high quality dress shoes, and excelling in specialties such as orthopaedic and medical footwear. It was a period of innovation at Alden, focusing on comfortable, orthopedically correct lasts.

In 1970 a new factory was constructed in Middleborough, Massachusetts where production continues today. Alden is now the only original New England shoe maker remaining of the hundreds who began so long ago, still carrying forward a tradition of quality genuine-welted shoemaking that is exceptional in every way, built to last for generations to come.

Cherish Your Feet

Famous for their widely sought out shoes and boots, Alden provides the kind of quality that you and your feet will truly relish. Alden was originally made as a practical shoe with orthopaedic origins, designed to fit and to be comfortable. The toe shape of their lasts is not a fashion-oriented as their lasts were originally designed for people with specific foot, leg and back problems.

Photo: Alden

Since all shoe lasts fit a little different, Alden shoes are made on combination lasts to provide a better heel fit. The double letter width marking, found next to the size marking, represents the heel fit width over the width of the shoe. The most common width is medium – D or E. Following information comes from Alden of Carmel and Alden Shop San Francisco:

  • Aberdeen is longer and narrower last, wear your normal U.S. size.
  • Barrie last fits large, you should size down half size.
  • Leydon is a narrower last, wear your normal U.S. size.
  • Plaza is longer and narrower last, wear your normal U.S. size.
  • Trubalance last fits large, you should size down half size.
  • Grant is a slightly larger last, wear normal size or size down half size.
  • Tremont last fits large, your should size down half size.
 American UK European Japanese
6 5.5 39 24
6.5 6 39.5 24.5
7 6.5 40 25
7.5 7 41 25.5
8 7.5 41.5 26
8.5 8 42 26.5
9 8.5 43 27
9.5 9 43.5 27.5
10 9.5 44 28
10.5 10 44.5 28.5
11 10.5 45 29
11.5 11 45.5 29.5
12 11.5 46 30
12.5 12 47 -
13 12.5 48 -


Very Narrow
Very Narrow
Wide Extra Wide

Know Your Aldens

Best known for their tassel loafers, Alden has lots more to offer. Try their stylish causal loafers, simple and stylish desert boots or their infamous "Indy boot" nicknamed because it was worn by Harrison Ford in the Indiana Jones movies. Here are our favourites.

Photo: Nitty Gritty

Leisure Handsewn Loafer, also known as LHS
This is a penny loafer model, famous as a casual trad footwear, and is handsewn right on the last. Purists want them in color shell cordovan (model 986), which will change its color from purple-toned oxblood to a rich red brown. Other favorite versions are cigar shell (model 6717), black (model 987), and Ravello (model 67540).

Photo: Gabucci

Plain Toe Blucher, also known as PTB
This is certainly one of the most versatile classic and minimalistic shoe designs without any stitching or brogue pattern. It works beautifully with flannels, corduroys, denim and also heavy chino cottons.

Photo: Gabucci

Unlined Chukka
This model is equivalent of a desert boot, but more robust, versatile shoe model. Due to a variety of colours and materials available, this style has versatility that spans from weekend comfort, to dressy-casual. We particularly like the chukkas built on Alden's special flex welt outsoles, which is a thin, heavily oiled piece of leather that’s both water resistant and more comfortable out-the-box, such as dark brown suede (model 1492), snuff suede (model 1493), and tan suede (model 1494).

Photo: Todd Snyder

Longwing Blucher
Alden makes a great version of the brogued wingtip with interesting head medallion design (the decorative punching on the toe). Alden’s longwings go excellently with everything from classic flannel trousers to denim and we perfer more rounded toe Barrie last than a shapely Plaza. These wingtips are available in calfskin, shell cordovan, snuff suede and also our recent favourite, the milkshake suede.

Photo: Nitty Gritty

The Indy Boot
Popularised by their appearance in the movies, The "Indy boot" became Alden’s bestseller and a staple of classic footwear that not only lend the wearer an esteemed sense of fashion. Yet they are also comfortable work boots that will endure the test of time and last for years to come. Stylish, classic, and made from quality materials with a high-quality construction they will instantly make any wardrobe look effortlessly distinguished and striking.

The Quality Standard

Alden shoes are built to last, just like the company itself. Goodyear welt construction means you can have your Aldens resoled many times, which you’ll undoubtedly want to do once you experience the blissful joy of their comfort and their timeless good looks.

Illustration: SARTOISM

A. Classic patterns, crafted with extraordinary attention to detail. Made on our exclusive lasts, designed for comfort and refined appearance.

B. Upper leather selected from the top grades of the finest tanneries in the world. Rich, aniline calfskins, luxurious calf and kid suedes, and genuine shell cordovan. Hand stained and polished to the classic patina that is the hallmark of the custom bootmaker's art.

C. Heavy, natural leather insole of pure vegetable tannage. Unsurpassed for breathable comfort and long wear, it assumes over time the contours of your foot shape giving a truly custom quality to the fit. Beneath the insole is a layer of natural cork, providing additional resilience and insulation.

D. Every Alden New England shoe has a full leather lining chosen from their special stock of supple glove linings and smooth, glazed kip linings.

E. Oak tanned leather bends are cut into outsoles at our factory for maximum control of quality. Specially treated for durable wear, then patiently burnished with carnauba waxes to a fine luster.

F. Genuine Goodyear welt construction. Top quality leather welting is securely stitched through the upper to the insole rib. On models requiring the clean appearance of a close heel trim the welt runs from the heel forward. For other styles, such as brogues, where the solid look of an extended heel trim is appropriate the welt is stitched all around the shoe.

G. Every Alden New England shoe carries a tempered steel shank, precisely contoured and triple ribbed for extra strength. Truly the backbone of a fine welt shoe, the shank provides the proper support and shape so necessary when your day involves much walking and time on your feet.

H. Long wearing rubber heels with leather inserts. Solid brass slugging gives secure attachment yet allows for easy rebuilding.

Find Out More