Alden: The Story of One of the Factories of Shoes, the Oldest of the USA

The european brands have the fame of the best footwear. But, did you know that some of the best men’s shoes are made here in America? There are more than a century, Alden of New England, founded in 1884, in the United States, is one of the best and most respected manufacturers of shoes in the world.

Alden The Story of One of the Factories of Shoes, the Oldest of the USA

It is the last footwear factories remaining in New England, a region that in the nineteenth century was considered the heart the footwear of the United States. This family-owned business has managed to overcome all the challenges and remains in active until today. Its long-standing tradition, went down in history, forming a true icon.

It all started in Middlebury, Massachusetts, in 1884, at the factory founded by Charles H. Alden. It was one of the last to join the group of manufacturers in the region, but could not have chosen a better time.

Revolutions in Footwear manufacturing

In 1830, the footwear manufacturing was already the second largest in this region. Only lost to agriculture and employed no less than 38,000. The production was highly artisanal until then, but from the decade of 1850, a series of technical innovations boosted the productivity of the industry footwear, mecanizando many manual processes.

  • In 1858, Lyman R. Blake patented a sewing machine that sewed the soles of the shoe, making it possible that today we call the construction blaqueada;
  • In 1874, Charles Goodyear launched the machine with your name, enabling a new method of construction. This process was stronger than the previous and made it easier to exchange the soles without harming the leather. Today, we know as construction Goodyear Welted;
  • Shortly thereafter, in 1882, Jan Ernst Matzeliger developed the first machine to mount the shoe (shoe lasting machine) mechanized. This newness has allowed it to produce up to 700 shoes per day.

The History of Alden of New England

Alden opened its doors in 1884, shortly after this latest revolution in the manufacturing process. The productivity gains have given a boom in capacity, making possible to produce 500% more shoes than the previous generation. The offer was received by the high demand, to the extent that the population of the United States expanding to the west. There was no better time to enter in the footwear market in the United States.

Everything went well until the Great Depression that struck the United States in the 1930s. The contraction of the economy had almost ended with the market of shoes and many factories have closed down. Although very affected, Alden kept his two factories operating.

During the Second World War, the demand again began to grow once again thanks to the main client, the army of the United States. How many other factories of various sectors, Alden had to divert its production to the boots and shoes military.

The end of the war generated a boom in the economy in the u.s., increasing again the demand. The saga to meet consumers took the factories and shops to seek more and more ways to reduce their labor costs, and manufacturing. From the decade of 50, the competition began to leave the USA to work in centers low cost.

A few footwear factories, traditional left, and the irony is that by choosing to bet on differentiation and focus your efforts on high quality footwear, Alden prospered, while the factories that have entered the battle for the mass market disappeared.

The famous forms of Alden

Alden prospered by relying on their high quality shoes and excellent footwear specialist, such as orthopedic. It was a period of growth and intensive development in a short period of time, taking advantage of all the knowledge and discoveries made during times of war. It was at this time that they developed many forms that still use today, as the Barrie and Trubalance.

When you buy shoes Alden, the people guided by the famous ways, on a scale from more to less formal. Any model can be adapted for any one of them, but the styles are more casual and has perfect chemistry with the more rounded, while the elegant fall like a glove in the forms of elongated

And 1970, a new factory was built, where even today are made shoes. Who plays the operations is Arthur Tarlow Jr., a descendant of a family that was a member of Charles Alden from the very beginning. The company has about one hundred workers at its factory in Middlebury, many of whom are shoemakers of the second and third generation.

The Alden today

Little has changed in the way they make shoes, and the production is still small. Throughout the boom of the menswear and the wave heritage, they have kept their feet on the ground even with the demand rising up to the sky. Making quick changes to capitalize on the fashion of the moment is not part of the strategy of Alden, and neither of their clients.

The only difference from there to here is that Alden has become a brand very hot, sold in luxury stores as well as in spaces super funky, even in Russia and in Latvia. She benefited greatly with the revival of menswear and workwear in general. It was one of the first brands that J. Crew has put as a guest in their golden ages, and it is always one of the first names on the lists of fans of footwear.

Alden is the last factory original that has survived in New England. It is still a family company, long from any fund investors, and keeps you alive more than a century of tradition with the manufacture of shoes, goodyear welted.

The main styles of the shoe from Alden

The best-selling models of the company are some of the most recent releases of Alden, including the 403 Indy Boot, characterized by the trilogy Indiana Jones and also your Longwing Bluchers. These are some of the styles memorable brand:

The Leisure Handsewn Penny Loafer

Probably one of the best Penny Loafers on the market. The Alden Leisure Handsewn (also known as LHS) is hand-stitched and extremely flexible. My versions favorites are the leather Cordovan of Horween, in the color Color 8, Cigar, Black and Ravello.


The best brogue style Longwing of all, the famous “gunboat”. The longwings from Alden are a casual style that wears well with everything from pants to jeans to thin. There are two main versions available, the more rounded the shape Barrie, and the more stylized in the way Plaza. The materials include everything from the leather, but the most amazing is the in the Cordovan Color 8.


The Alden Indy Boot is the most famous, but it is already a little beat that fever Moc Toe. I suggest something more unique, like the Alden Tanker, or even a model simple and timeless, like the Alden Cap Toe boots Brogue. I have an incredible, Alden Brogue made of leather shell cordovan wine.

Alden Unlined Chukka Boot

The Alden has a series of shoes made with the sole special Flex Welt. It is a sole thin highly oiled that is extremely water resistant and super comfortable. Among them, I like the Chukkas suede, and also Penny Loafer without lining (unlined Penny Loafer) in brown suede and snuff. Are casual, but much more elegant than a desert boot normal.

Alden Six-Eyelet Chukka

The more stylish version of the chukka boot. This boot from Alden is great for travel. Super versatile, good for wearing during the day with jeans, and elegant enough to leave aligned the night.

Plain Toe Blutchers

Alden makes a series of shoes with soles of crepe. They are extremely comfortable and the outsole of natural rubber is no end to it. Among them, my favorite, are the models Plain Toe Bluthcers. A shoe style derby, perfect for use with the wardrobe casual and modern.

Alden Tassel Loafer

It is not of my style favorites, but need to get on the list because it was Alden who invented this style of loafer at the request of actor Paul Lukas. He asked the shoemakers prepare a version of a shoe he had brought from Europe that had tassels feathered at the tip of the shoelaces. Alden has changed dramatically the project and used the tassels as ornaments on a shoe to shove the foot.

To finish! Because Alden?

All of the shoes from the Alden cost a lot of money? Yes, of course. But they are durable and will last as long as Alden want to, since you can always send it back to the factory to exchange the outsole and restore your product. This possibility considerably facilitates the purchase of boots and shoes of the brand in the secondary market on sites such as eBay and Grailed.

In the long term, if you are not of those who changes his mind all the time, they will be an excellent investment. The best? They are extremely comfortable. This is one of the strongest of the Alden! To erase the line between the classics and the comfort of a boot, she created a new style that keeps alive the methods of the shoemakers to the English in the spirit of an american entrepreneur.

For sure one of the best brands of boots and shoes in the world! Option excellent to shoes formal and also stylish boots which are not aggressively in workwear.

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