Alden has been tempting me for some time. I finally decided to take the plunge last week and order a pair of the flex-welt suede chukka boots in snuff suede and they arrived over the weekend. I couldn’t be more excited and want to share my initial impressions.
This has been a match in the making for quite a while now. I, in typical fashion, over-thought the process from start to finish, and eventually had to force myself to just pull the damn trigger. First it was a pair of tassel mocs in burgundy. Then in mocha suede. Long-wings had their moment, as did the delusion of ordering those shell boots I can’t stop drooling over.
Eventually these won out as the result of some combination of my love of boots, my desire for something in snuff suede, and the versatility of the chukka. And, like I said, I couldn’t be happier with my choice.
From the moment I took them out of the box – which is sturdy and came perfectly packed with elegant shoe bags – it was impossible not to notice just how supple the suede is. For the record, snuff is probably my favorite color suede; in most commercial photographs it appears much more orange than it is in reality, but in natural light it’s much closer to a sandy color. Tone aside, the hand is as buttery as can be. Not that I had any doubts in Alden, and I’ve handled their shoes dozens of times, but it just feels different when they’re your shoes.
Then there are the water-lock oiled flex soles, which are a specialty of Alden’s. The two most popular models on which they use the flex welt are their unlined chukkas and penny loafers. The unlined construction really compliments the flex welt. The sole it a little bit lighter, nominally thinner, and is soaked in a proprietary tanning solution that replaces as much of the water in the leather as possible with oils that add to durability, flexibility, and water resistance. You would think it might be less durable than a traditional leather sole, but not at all. In fact, it’s much better on damp streets, since it won’t soak up water like other worn-in soles.
So between the boots being made of buttery suede on a flex sole and being unlined, the things wear like slippers. I really can’t believe it. And thankfully, since I’m sure I’ll want to wear them often, they go with pretty much anything. Jeans and chinos, check. Grey flannels, check. I have it on good authority that Fred Astaire used to wear similar boots with his suits off-screen. I might need a little more swagger for that, but who knows.