Allen Edmonds Steps Into China With American Soul
Bruce Springsteen famously extolled Born in the USA” with his rock anthem. Unfortunately, American apparel manufacturing hasnt quite followed the boss creed when it comes to manufacturing, with many U.S. companies — particularly footwear brands — moving manufacturing offshore, particularly to China.
According to the American Apparel and Footwear Association’s ShoeStats 2011 report, over 98% of shoes sold in the U.S. are produced overseas.
But men’s footwear brand Allen Edmonds, an American Hertiage company with
We think theres just incredible demand [in China] and its growing very rapidly for our American products
China is the largest population on Earth with the fastest growing economy, said Paul Grangaard, chief executive officer for Allen Edmonds. Some of the worlds greatest cities are in China. We think theres just incredible demand and its growing very rapidly for our American products.
Allen Edmonds enjoys a cultlike following in America among guys with a penchant for classic styles and well-made shoes. (The company supplied boots to the armed forces during WWII, and some soldiers remained loyal customers after the war.) With classic American style at the forefront of mens fashion, it seems that Allen Edmonds has hit a sweet spot in the world of menswear here at home and abroad, and the company found that Chinese men were already very aware of the brand, with robust online sales in China confirming the following across the Pacific.
The company has aggressive retail expansion plans overseas, with five stores slated to open in China by the end of 2013, including Shanghai and Beijing. Said Grangaard, Were an entrepreneurial company still.
In addition to its Chinese expansion, Allen Edmonds is debuting a new store design in the U.S., with New Orleans and Reston, Va., among the first to debut the new concept.
That brand message is clear no matter who you ask. Fans of the brand, who are vocal on menswear message boards like Ask Andy About Clothes and The Style Forum, know that Allen Edmonds is a go-to for shoes with a nod to tradition and forward-thinking styles in the mix. (Grangaard has gone on record saying the brands wingtips are the best in the world.)
During Esquire Chinas Men of the Year awards, Allen Edmonds shoes were worn by a dozen of the honorees and celebrities on the red carpet. Some of the celebrities even admitted to choosing a suit to match their shoes.
Whats next for the brand? Grangaard said that he’s excited about the Chinese stores, but isnt looking solely at Asia for brand expansion. Were looking into South Africa and Australia. Theres a lot of interest around the world for ‘Made in the USA’ products especially Allen Edmonds.