We’re huge fans of Allen Edmonds shoes. They’re built to last 10+ years using high quality materials and Goodyear welt construction, made in the USA by a company that’s been in business since 1922, and available in virtually any style, from formal Oxfords to loafers.
Sound too much like a commercial? Let’s get to the one downside of Allen Edmonds shoes: they aren’t exactly cheap. While Allen Edmonds shoes are priced more competitively than shoes from higher-end companies like Alden and Crockett & Jones, they still cost an average of $300+ per pair at retail.
That’s fine if you’re earning $50,000+ per year and can afford to spend a little on quality footwear. But what if you’re just getting started with men’s style and don’t have the cash to buy Allen Edmonds shoes at the full retail price?
There are several ways to buy high-end shoes below the regular price. One great source of cheap shoes is Nordstrom Rack, which sells lots of Allen Edmonds seconds at 50% off retail. Their selection is limited and they don’t always have the right sizes, but if you can find a pair of shoes in your size it’s a good way to get Allen Edmonds shoes for under $200.
Still, $200 isn’t a low price for a pair of shoes, and it’s well out of the reach of many people. If you want to get good quality Allen Edmonds shoes (as well as plenty of other brands, like Alden or Loake) at a massive discount, one of the best places to look is eBay. Every day, hundreds of pairs of used shoes from brands like Allen Edmonds, Loake, Red Wing and more are posted on eBay, usually with a reserve price of less than $100 and often with no reserve at all.
Buying used shoes can be a hit and miss game, but since most Allen Edmonds shoes are Goodyear welted and made using high quality leather that lasts for a long time, even old, “worn out” shoes can be turned into new looking ones with a quick visit to your local cobbler. If you can find a pair that’s not very worn out (and there are lot of those available, by the way) you can save even more money.
Reddit’s Male Fashion Advice section is full of stories of people getting shoes from Allen Edmonds and other brands for $20-$50 on eBay. Here’s someone who got a pair of Allen Edmonds Richmond Wingtips (a limited edition shoe that’s since been discontinued — it retailed for $498) for $24. There are plenty of posts of people spending less than $100 and getting shoes that retailed for $300+, often in good condition. They aren’t brand new, but since they’re well made shoes, a quick polish (and if necessary, a resoling) usually brings them to 90% new condition.
Want to get your own pair of high quality shoes for way below retail? Below, we’ve listed five tips to help you get the best bang for your buck on eBay, whether you’re specifically looking for Allen Edmonds shoes (which are the most popular on eBay, as well as unfortunately also being the most competitive) or shoes from Alden, Rancourt & Co., Loake, Crockett & Jones, Wolverine or other popular brands.
First, make sure you’re buying the right width
Allen Edmonds and other high-end shoemakers don’t just sell shoes in specific sizes (a measurement of the length of the shoe), they also sell shoes in specific widths. If you haven’t worn a pair of Allen Edmonds shoes before, go to your local department store and try on several different shoes to find out your foot width. It’s important that you try on a variety of different shoes — lace-ups, loafers, boots, etc. — as Allen Edmonds and other shoemakers use different lasts for each model, and each last fits slightly differently.
The standard men’s shoe width is D, which fits most people. People with narrow feet might fit a B, while people with wide feet might need to wear a 2E or 4E shoe. If possible, try on the specific pair of shoes you want to buy on eBay so that you know exactly what size you are. Remember that leather shoes stretch slightly after you break them in, so a pair that feels ever so slightly too tight in the shop might actually fit perfectly after a weak or wear.
Unfortunately, it can often be hard to find shoes in very wide or very narrow widths. The upside of this is that since there’s a smaller market for wide and narrow shoes, you can get better pricing than someone with normal width feet.
Search for models that are made in the USA
Allen Edmonds makes most of its shoes in the USA, but some models are made in the Dominican Republic in order to save costs. These are still reasonably good shoes, but the level of attention to detail isn’t quite as high as the American made shoes. This mostly affects Allen Edmonds boat shoes, and some of the company’s cheaper loafers. You can bid on the Dominican shoes if you like, but it’s generally best not to pay more than $50 for the non-American shoes, since they aren’t as well made and sell at a lower price point at retail anyway.
There are also a couple of Allen Edmonds loafers that are made in Italy using Bologna shoe construction. These are high quality shoes that are worth the money if you can get them for under $150, but they’re rare and usually don’t come on eBay often. Act fast if you see them!
Pay attention to shoes that don’t have leather creases
One of the first things to wear on high-end shoes is the leather upper. Good shoes are made using high quality leather that usually doesn’t fade or crack, but over time wrinkles can develop in the shoes that indicate they weren’t stored using shoe trees. Leather wrinkles or creases aren’t a total deal breaker, but they can be hard to remove from shoes. Small creases usually aren’t an issue can can be mostly removed by using shoe trees to straighten out the top of the shoe.
Aim for shoes that have, at most, 1-2 small creases. The creases will usually develop about 1/3rd of the way down the shoe, where the toe of the shoe starts to meet the vamp (technically called the “throat line” of the shoe). These creases aren’t obvious when the shoes are worn and will usually develop naturally over time, even if the shoes are stored using shoe trees and treated with care by their owner.
Don’t get shoes with worn soles, unless they’re extremely cheap
Buying the cheapest high-end shoes you can find on eBay will often cost you far more than you expect. One of the biggest advantages of Goodyear welted shoes from Allen Edmonds and other companies is that they can be resoled once they wear out, usually at a cost of around $100 to $125. While this massively lowers the cost of owning the shoes over 10+ years, buying shoes with worn out soles can add an extra $100 to your eBay find in resoling costs.
Look for signs of wear on the sole of the shoes before you bid. The most obvious sign that shoes need to be resoled is serious wear on the leather. If a pair of shoes have holes in their soles, they’re too worn out to buy and wear right away. It’s also important to look at the condition of the welting on the soles. If the welt stitching is seriously worn down to the point where it’s no longer easy to see, the shoes are due to be resoled. These can still be good buys if you can get them for $50 or less, but you’ll need to be prepared to spend an extra $100 for resoling within a few months of buying them.
Don’t limit yourself to Allen Edmonds
Allen Edmonds are arguably the most popular brand of high-end men’s Goodyear welted shoes, but they’re not the only brand that you can find on eBay. The huge popularity of Allen Edmonds means that equally good shoes from Loake, an English shoe company, are often available in better condition and for lower prices. If you look hard, you can even get great deals on better quality shoes from brands like Crockett & Jones or Alden for similar prices to Allen Edmonds.
Don’t feel limited by a brand name. If a shoe is Goodyear welted (or in some cases, blake stitched or hand welted), made by a reliable company, constructed in the USA, England or Italy, and sold at retail for $300+, it’s usually a high quality shoe that will last for a long time. There are some exceptions, but if you search for buyer reviews and seek out reliable, high quality brands, you can easily fill your closet with great shoes at a fraction of the regular retail price.