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One step ahead
By Diane Schlindwein

Guys who are updating their wardrobes this spring might want to start from the bottom and work up.

Shoes may not make the man, but they have a big effect on how he looks and feels, says Springfield's men's clothing expert Marc Maslauski, owner of Jim Herron Ltd. for the past three years.

That's why when customers come to his downtown shop looking for well-made dress shoes, Maslauski recommends one of three brands: Allen-Edmonds, Cole-Haan or Johnston & Murphy. Of the three, Allen-Edmonds are the only shoes made in the United States - in nearby Wisconsin.  

Great shoes might be a bit pricey, but they are well worth the investment, Maslauski says.

Allen-Edmonds bespoke (made entirely by hand) shoes generally cost about $350 a pair.

The considerably less costly ($145-$200) Cole-Haan and Johnston & Murphy are bench made - which means about 25 percent to 50 percent of the work is done by hand - in various overseas countries.

"I know $350 might sound expensive, but that is the last plateau before shoes begin getting really expensive, which is $499," Maslauski says.

Mark Yeates, owner of Dick's Shoe Repair in Springfield, agrees that Allen-Edmonds shoes are a good investment.

"They are high-end, excellent shoes, and most of the time they are repairable," he says, adding that some brands of shoes can't be repaired.

Yeates can also repair the very pricey made-in-England Church's shoes.

"Those shoes are really expensive (most cost at least $800 a pair) and they aren't even sold in Springfield," Yeates says.

Most people don't pay too much attention to how their shoes are made, but Maslauski says it is important. The Allen-Edmonds Web site -- www.allenedmonds.com -- explains it well. A cork layer between the insole and the outsole allows each foot to form its own uniquely shaped foot bed for custom comfort.

The foot actually forms an imprint that cradles it.

Allen-Edmonds also has its own reconditioning program, Maslauski says. "If you wear a pair for a while and then send them back to them, they will recondition them for $99," he says.

"They do both the uppers and the soles, so what you get back is basically a brand new pair of shoes."

How shoes are worn makes a difference in how long they will last. Both Maslauski and Yeates say to avoid wearing the same pair of shoes every day.

"Shoes are made of leather, and they need time to dry out," Yeates says.

"That's why you should switch them out. If you rotate the days you wear them, that helps them last that much longer."

Good shoes shouldn't be just tossed in the closet. Maslauski says they should be stored on cedar shoe trees. "It's also important to use a shoe horn," he adds.

Choosing a few different looks helps liven up a man's wardrobe. Generally men's dress shoes come in wingtips, loafers, cap-toes and slip-ons with tassels or metal accents.

When it comes to color, most men stick to black, dark brown and burgundy for winter, Maslauski says. In the spring and summer, a shoe collection can be expanded to include light browns, tan or woven leather.

If Maslauski doesn't have the Allen-Edmonds shoe his customer needs, he can order it in within a few days.

"We obviously can't carry all widths, sizes and colors of all the shoes, but we have a nice catalogue customers can look through and then we can order them. It's also important to measure your feet and pay special attention to the width and then order the right size. There really is nothing worse for your feet than ill-fitting shoes."  

Maslauski estimates he sold about 300 pairs of shoes last year, and more than 125 of those pairs were Allen-Edmonds. However, he wouldn't recommend shoes that he didn't wear himself.

"I know. I'm on my feet all day, and if I wear lesser shoes, my feet hurt," he says. "It is true that with shoes, you really get what you pay for."

Where to buy

Allen-Edmonds, Cole-Haan and Johnston & Murphy shoes are sold at Jim Herron Ltd., 700 E. Adams St. Phone is 753-8036 and their Web site is www.jimherronltd.com.


Story published Friday, May 1, 2009 ( Volume 4, Number 3 )

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