Alden has a long history of making some of the finest shoes available anywhere in the world. Unsurprisingly, they also make a mean sales catalog/manual to guide retailers through their lasts, models, and overall philosophy.
While talking to the owner of a shop that will remain unnamed about the rapidly shifting nature of geopolitics (just kidding: it was about shoes) I uncovered an old Alden Foot Balance System manual from—we’re pretty sure—the early 1980s. Inside is an embarrassment of shoe-geek information on their entire orthopedic line—which includes, as some might not know, Alden’s famed Trubalance last that most Indy Boots are built on (check out my three-year review of my Indy 403C boots right here). And it features the Indy 405, before it was the Indy, and when it still had the cotton duck lining!
You’ll also find details on the full lineup from the time of the Grant and CDI lasts, as well as more obscure lasts like the Tru-Tred and Trusquare. And of course, there’s a basically a book to itself covering the Modified last, Alden’s most noted and in some ways most extreme orthopedic framework for shoe-building.
I’ve tossed in a few observations and other peanut-gallery comments below some of the images (apologies for the quality of some; this whole project proved a little trickier than I’d hoped). But for the most part, this is here for you to dig into, learn a bundle from, and just generally enjoy. If you crave Alden history, I’m pretty sure you’ll like this too.
One final thing: If you’re reading this on your phone, you may want to remind yourself to check it out on a bigger screen later—it’ll make the experience much better, for sure.
One more final thing: If you know of anyone else who has old Alden catalogs, or vintage materials from any other shoemakers, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org—I’m hoping to build up a repository of them on Stitchdown for everyone to enjoy.
A note from Alden scion Art Tarlow himself.
The amount of thought put into this one page, and reflected throughout the rest of this manual, gives you a sense of the framework around which Alden builds all of their shoes around the needs of people’s feet and bodies—this certainly isn’t a company that just slaps things together that look nice.
That Algonquin blucher above is still the the main Modified last Alden shoe that you’ll find carried by the most retailers.
Obviously you are a golfer.
The 405 was still pretty much legitimately a workboot at this point—so cool to see.
All of these sections on the medical footwear are worth a read—the idea of a straight last for either foot is pretty wild.
Crew oxford: bring it back!