Finding a pair of dress shoes made in the USA has gotten a lot harder in recent decades. While there used to be a burgeoning shoe manufacturing industry in America, particularly in New England, the FDRA (Footwear Distributors & Retailers of American) states that 99% of all shoes sold in the U.S. are now imported. But fear not, there are still a handful of brands committed to producing great American made dress shoes. Let’s dive in.
|Table of Contents|
|Made in USA Dress Shoe Brands|
|Best American Made Dress Shoes|
|Benefits of Wearing Made in USA Dress Shoes|
|American Made Dress Socks|
While this list is by no means exhaustive, the below brands are some of our team’s favorite domestic manufacturers of men’s dress shoes:
Entering into their 100th year in business, Allen Edmonds got its start in Wisconsin in 1922 and is presently based out of Port Washington. The company provided shoes for American servicemen during World War II which helped it cultivate a dedicated following.
Their most popular style is the Park Avenue, a traditional cap-toe oxford that is truly a wardrobe staple. In addition to classic lace up dress shoes, Allen Edmonds’ line also includes loafers, boots, sneakers and other types of dress shoes. While most of the brand’s dress shoes are made in the USA, they do have a small collection of Italian-made shoes as well as several styles imported from the Dominican Republic.
The Alden Shoe Company was started way back in 1884 by Charles Alden in Massachusetts. Still family owned to this day, the company continues to produce its shoes by hand in Massachusetts.
Alden is most well known for crafting American made dress shoes using shell cordovan leather. Colloquially known as “horsebutt,” shell cordovan is a premium leather that comes from a horse’s hindquarters and is exceptionally durable. Alden is also renowned for its line of dress boots, particularly the Indy model.
Newer to the scene of dress shoes made in the USA is Oak Street Bootmakers, a brand founded in 2010 and based out of Chicago. Oak Street’s dedication to American manufacturing is impressive to say the least and their shoes are produced in Maine.
As the name suggests, Oak Street Bootmakers’ largest selection is in the boot category but they also have a range of dress shoes, loafers and moccasins. My personal favorite is their bit loafer, a particularly handsome and classic business casual dress shoe.
Rancourt & Company is another family-owned producer of American made men’s dress shoes. Based in Lewiston, Maine since 1967, their products continue to be manufactured in New England.
Rancourt is best known for their moccasins, boat shoes and slippers, but they also offer gorgeous loafers, oxfords and derbys.
To determine the best American made dress shoes, many factors come into play. Most importantly is your comfort which will be determined by the last upon which the shoes are made. Beyond fit and comfort, style, quality and longevity are additional key factors that must be taken into consideration. With this in mind, here are our top 5 picks:
Every man needs a black cap-toe oxford in his closet. This style of shoe is perfect for business professional and formal attire; whether worn with a full suit or an odd pair of trousers, the Park Avenue features clean lines for a classic and truly timeless look. Allen Edmonds has reportedly sold over two million pairs - and for good reason! You can typically find a pair of Park Avenues on sale for around $300. If you are a bargain hunter, Allen Edmonds' factory seconds are a tremendous value and can usually be purchased for around $200.
The 979 is a longwing blucher, making it less formal than the Park Avenue and other oxfords but arguably more versatile. Personally I like the Burnished Tan calfskin color, which looks sharp with navy, grey or brown slacks as well as khakis and even jeans. Alden's longwing starts at $631 and the brand typically does not offer discounts or promotions.
The Strand is arguably Allen Edmonds’ second most well known style. Similar to the Park Avenue, it is a cap-toe oxford but sets itself apart with extensive broguing and a burnished toe. This shoe easily dresses up or down but if you prefer a more casual look, the Strandmok is a slightly bolder version of the Strand. Similar to the Park Avenue, you can typically find these on sale for around $300.
After adding a couple pairs of U.S. made lace-up dress shoes, it’s time to round out your collection with a pair of men’s loafers. While penny loafers tend to be more ubiquitous, I think bit loafers are a great way to add a pop while still looking classic and elegant. What I like most about Oak Street’s bit loafer is the sleek sole which creates a low profile look. These American made loafers are available in black, brown and snuff suede and are usually priced between $350 and $400.
Alden’s 962 is an “NST” (Norwegian Split Toe) which is a unique type of blucher that features a vertical seam that splits the toe. While certainly not for everyone, I like the uniqueness of Norwegians as a way to sprinkle some diversity into your shoe rotation. This American made dress shoe in black will be perfect for all but the most formal occasions. Alden's 962 starts around $650.
While there are some phenomenal shoe makers all across the globe, there are two main reasons why we recommend buying USA made dress shoes:
Similar to why Boardroom Socks has chosen to keep the production of our dress socks here in the United States, traditional shoemakers keep their manufacturing here to capitalize on the multi-generational craftsmen and inherent quality that they provide.
For starters, higher quality dress shoes typically feature a cork footbed that, over time, will form to your foot to create a custom fit. These shoes are also made with long lasting leathers and are resoleable or “recraftable,” allowing them to be kept for decades.
Hear me out on this one. At first glance, dress shoes made in the USA certainly aren’t cheap; a pair of Allen Edmonds starts around $250 and you’ll be hard pressed to find a pair of Aldens under $600. Compared to your run-of-the-mill, imported $100 department store dress shoe this is quite a jump in price; however, that cheaper dress shoe will wear out much faster and likely cannot be resoled.
For example I purchased my first pair of Allen Edmonds in 2010 and still wear the shoes to this day. If I recall correctly I bought them on sale for around $200 and then had them resoled 5 or 6 years later for around $100, making my all-in cost roughly $300 for shoes that have so far lasted me 12 years. Had I opted for cheaper, lower quality dress shoes I undoubtedly would have cycled through several pairs and spent more money in the long run. In the end, the cost per wear usually favors spending more up front.
I should point out here that there are also plenty of brands around the globe, particularly in Europe, that produce recraftable dress shoes. While the concept of recrafting shoes isn’t unique to the U.S. supporting domestic manufacturers does have the unique benefit of keeping jobs and dollars in local American communities.
Now that you’ve picked out a pair or two of dress shoes made in the USA, how about rounding out your wardrobe with some quality, comfortable American made dress socks? Boardroom Socks is a small, family-owned manufacturer of premium men’s dress socks. Each pair is made locally in North Carolina and designed to be as comfortable as they are stylish.
CEO, Boardroom Socks
Nathan's favorite dress socks are our burgundy merino wool socks. You will also frequently find him wearing our new no-show socks. Outside of the office he enjoys fishing, reading and exploring Charlotte with his wife.
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