I received a new pair of shoes yesterday, something I've been waiting a few years to see. The new Allen Edmonds Strawfut. Back in 2009, the only pair I'd seen were vintage and falling apart, yet I loved them just the same.
There were three main reasons I felt they were a fantastic shoe.
#1 The foot shape was just right for me. The shoes had a foot shape that was common for the day with a wide forefoot and narrow heel... this was a big plus that gave me lots of toe room; something which always made me regret my rack full of modern dress shoes that tend to be designed with a small toe box (my Hobbit-like feet require Hobbit-like shoes).
#2 They breathed. The shoes had a mesh that allowed air to flow freely around the foot. Being a Californian and a dancer who spends a lot of time on the floor, having shoes that breathe is a great bonus. They are shoes from the 1940s, and the construction is completely vintage, so when the mention of the mesh being nylon came up, the heads at Allen Edmonds thought it odd material to be used, even in the conversation with Paul Grangaard, the CEO of Allen Edmonds, I think he and their head designer thought nylon was a bit taboo when it came to shoes made for business. But being a material from the 1930s, it was a time when something like a nylon mesh to keep shoes air cooled was very innovative.
#3 They flexed and needed no break in time. With nylon mesh on much of the upper, there is no leather to break in on top of your foot. This makes them lighter and more maneuverable when it comes to... well, doing anything. They move and feel like leather soled sneakers.
A perfect off the shelf shoe when it came to my foot, yet the only way to get a pair was to hunt through vintage shops, or build a time machine, and with current science saying that you can't time travel back into the past unless you'd built your time machine there already -- well I guess I had to choose my own route.
I posted the shoes everywhere and wrote about how much I loved them. Because of this, I eventually received a call from the CEO of the still-existing Allen Edmonds company and we discussed the styles of the past.
It's a little over two years later, I still keep in contact with the company through emails now and again. And I also think it's high time I finished writing and showed you the new addition to the Allen Edmonds Spring shoe collection...
I received them in the mail yesterday. They are a veritable duplicate of the 1940s shoes made by Allen Edmonds.
Before I get to them, I have to say this,
I want to thank Paul Grangaard and Jim Kass and the whole Allen Edmonds company for returning the Strawfut to the their line of shoes. I hope you sell a million, and know that a good dress shoe that is flexible and really breathes is back on the market to fill a sartorial hole that has been very empty.
I do have to say that the ones I received are not the production model, but a special make. The production model is done on the #5 last that has a narrower toe.
Now to the shoes.
This pair made for me is done on the #1 last that has a wide toe-box like the originals. The footbed is Poron which is a space age dense memory foam wrapped in a layer of leather; very comfortable. The soles are Rendenbach leather that is a denser leather that can take more of a beating over time than the standard Allen Edmonds soles, and the heels are combination rubber leather, and I just like the look.
The (new) Strawfut
The production version is Available here.