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Park Avenue Haunted By Quality Control Issues?
on August 28, 2013
[---Quick Summation on Quality in General---]
Leather is noticeably soft without the plastic feel of the usual sub 200$ departmental dress shoes (Boston, Johnston and Murphy etc.). The leather sole is stiff and rigid and they are meant to conform to your foot over time so there may or may not be a break-in period however, you will have to let them get acquainted with your foot.
These can be shined which hold superior gloss versus many of the other less expensive brands. Moreover, you buy these shoes to stay with you a long time as they can be re-crafted (new sole, and tightens the leather a bit) for a little above 100$ which will turn them into a somewhat new pair of Allen Edmonds shoe that is already somewhat molded with your foot.
It took me (2) returns: 1 from Amazon and 1 directly from Allen Edmonds to force my hand in putting 2 stars for an Allen Edmond shoe. This being said, I will still buy their shoes for the hope that this one--flagship and iconical line--is an anomaly.
My current shoe closet has many pairs of Allen Edmonds shoes e.g. Strand, Lasalle, Neumora. With experience in 1st quality and 2nd quality, nothing has been less than expected from a 'superior line' when examining the quality of the shoe (with the exception of subjective observations). The Park Avenue, the staple of Allen Edmonds shoes, has been the pariah where these were supposed to be the foundation.
As noted by many people over the internet, with the Park Avenues seemingly being the only 'violater', there is 'bowing' i.e. Top-Line bulge at the mouth of the shoe. Explained more, the part surrounding your ankle has too much 'excess' of leather i.e. seemingly not made proportionally so that the sides bulge from excess material. The latter allows much creasing on the sides so that it looks like your ankle is a...chicken ankle (think of pants that are too big 'creasing' at the waist when a belt is cinched).
My first pair from Amazon had this problem along with unsightly 'creasing' at the mouth from excess leather. Needless to say, it was not a good looking shoe. In general, I can make compromises with other, less expensive, pairs of shoes however, when I make the conscious choice to purchase Quality shoes I expect nothing less than perfection (at least enough perfection by eyeing it). When you choose to spend more for a luxury car or watch, you may be overspending however one thing will not be a question: the quality is above average and it will work as intended; nothing more.
From the latter problems I returned them based on the bowing.
The first shoe looked as it should and there was minimal bowing, see Normal. The next shoe (right pair) had a flopping right side on the mouth (top-line bulge...again). This was confirmed when I put my foot inside. It was so bad I could stick 2-3 fingers, one on top of the other, inside the 'space' made by the too big leather. It looked very, very bad.
*It should be noted that I can be so adament about the lack of 'tightness' around the mouth because of my experience with previous Allen Edmonds shoes...and dress shoes in general (from various manufacturers). The sizing is not the issue.*
Knowing Amazon does not allow returns after the 1st (rightfully so as they, at that point, figure it is an issue with the product in general), I contacted customer service and explained the situation. They thus investigated their current stock for the problem.
Meanwhile I contact Allen Edmonds directly where I was met with the much documented good customer service where I was told to send them back even though I purchased them from an online retailer with the explanation of the problem.
Receiving them fairly quickly after I sent them, everything on the shoe looked good...finally...until I examined a little more in detail. As I am not necessarily a 'finicky' or judging person (not too harshly) where I would forgive scrapes, scratches, creases (before I wear them), or smudges, the next problem is unacceptable for a the type of shoe manufacturer Allen Edmonds represents.
*Crooked Toe Cap*
As I said previously that everything on the 3rd pair looked fine (top line bulge was non existent and tight), there was a new problem--the Toe Cap. Where it is supposed to be straight across--180 degrees--the shoe, it was more like 165. Instead of a plane, it was a slope. The right shoe was more apparent than the left, however they would be 'straight' if I walked with my toes outward (pretty good if I was trying out a Charlie Chaplin act..though for normal use, pretty tough).
At this point, I am getting slightly impatient with constantly exchanging shoes however the problems are so that I cannot accept a subpar pair from a manufacturer that you pay for having 'pristine' quality.
These have all been 1st quality for the record. Even the seconds I purchased were obviously better 'put together' than this 'lucky' group of three.
Even with the issues, I intend to exchange them until I get a pair that is satisfactory. If this begins to be the norm rather than the exception, and other lines are affected as well, then I will start to question what direction Allen Edmonds, as a company, is wanting to go.
Exchanged the 3rd pair (the exchange directly from Allen Edmonds with the Toe-Cap crooked problem) with Amazon and the new pair has none of the above noted problems. No bowing and no crooked toe cap.
Not sure what would cause these 'quality control' problems as the pairs that I received would be fairly ok as seconds even though the bowing really adjusts the look of the shoe. The cost of replacing this many times and at the risk of Allen Edmond's customer base changing their opinion somewhat of the companies' philosophy and quality would certainly not be worth having to go over a shoe for its proper production.
4th time should not be a charm in this case; not with the price and reputation that is behind this shoe.