If you’ve been reading our site for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the term “factory seconds.” It refers to things that didn’t pass a company’s quality controls. If the damage is major, the item is either thrown away or recycled for materials. If the damage is minor, it’s sometimes sold at a deeply discounted price. We often recommend Allen Edmonds’ factory seconds because the faults are so minor, they’re near invisible. You can buy them at Allen Edmonds’ shoe bank website.
A lot of companies sell factory seconds, but they’re typically not as accessible as Allen Edmonds’. Many of the Northampton firms, for example, will only sell you their seconds if you visit their actual factories (in Northampton, England). Wolverine sometimes offloads theirs on Sierra Trading Post (although, the damages on those pairs are often a bit more noticeable).
One brand’s factory seconds that often goes under the radar? Alden. Yes, the company that people go nuts for when their models are discounted by as little as 10%.
To get Alden’s factory seconds, you have to sign up for a special newsletter at The Shoe Mart. Tell them your size, and then every month or two, you’ll get a list of which discounted models are available. Since Alden’s sizing can vary depending on the last, I recommend that you sign up for at least a couple of sizes. You can use this as a guide.
Discounts are pretty good. I’ve bought Alden’s shell cordovan bluchers for $435 (down from $667) and unlined suede chukkas for $300 (down from $510). So about 35-40% off. You have to exercise a little patience if you have your heart set on a certain model, but you never know when the thing you’ve been eyeing might just pop up in one of those newsletters.