After months of scouring various shoe blogs, and stumbling across the fact that Honolulu is home to one of the top Alden retailers in the world... Leather Soul Waikiki, I acquired my first pair of 'high end' shoes, a pair of Alden Cordovan #8 V-Tips. Thanks muchly to dad for tracking down the UPS guy making the delivery with about 45mins to spare before our flight (and for picking up the tab!). Also thanks to Takuya for many patient email responses about size and availability.
Now I have only the pleasure of enjoying the bliss of having these gloves of perfect leather on my feet. Seriously, I've almost walked in to people because I love to look at my own shoes. Slightly disturbing. Only slightly more disturbing is the fact that I've started to think about my next pair of Aldens. Sure, I was able to vicariously enjoy dad getting a pair of All Weather Walkers last week in San Francisco at the Alden store. Greg meanwhile is contemplating his 'Vancouver shoe' that would also be dressy, yet durable enough for site visits to the prairie dealerships in winter. He's thinking shell chukka with a commando sole. Or maybe in Kudu with a lug rubber sole?
Reading about these shoes only makes you appreciate the care and craftsmanship that go into making a pair, given that most of the shoes I've worn in my life were probably made in ten minutes by child labourers in a sweatshop in Vietnam. The enthusiasm of the retailers like Tom and Takuya at Leather Soul is the face most customers would see, but digging deeper we see the traditions at work in the Alden factory. But move a step further back in the means of production, and the same passion for the product and the production is still evident. The blog of the Horween Leather Company of Chicago is an amazing glimpse into traditional production practices that still persevere today. Here is where you can still observe something called craftsmanship that is largely lost in most of the crap we buy today. Thanks to the good folks at Horween, I have a newfound appreciation for not only the shell cordovan that eventually found its way into my V-tips, but also the amazing processes that go into making the natural Chromexcel that will produce my next pair of Aldens.