February 16, 2012

While some people may be bogged down by the Mayan calendar, 2012 for all of us at Allen Edmonds brings a great celebration as we mark our company’s 90th Anniversary.   Yes, for 90 years non-stop – in direct contrast to prevailing industry trends toward off-shoring – our shoemakers have been making men’s shoes right here in the U.S.A.!
We’ve planned several exciting ways throughout the year to celebrate our 90th with our customers, employees, suppliers, communities and friends.  The first event in the line-up is a Shoe Design Competition among some of the best design students in the world.
Specifically, to honor our Made in USA heritage and support design education, we’ve partnered with the premier American art and design school – The Parsons New School for Design in New York City – and challenged students there to reinterpret today’s classic American men’s street shoe.  Other than explaining our 90 year history and our great American heritage, we encouraged them to be as creative with style, materials, textures and details as they wanted to be.  We’re offering three scholarship prizes to the winners of the contest, so we’ve had amazing participation among the student body.  And “fun” doesn’t do enough justice to the invigorating experience we’ve had working with the passionate students and their leadership at Parsons!
Now, here’s where we could really use your insight and participation…  The six designs that made the cut into the semi-finals are online now and waiting for your vote!   Please go to our voting page at www.allenedmonds.com/parsons to pick your favorites among the six.  On March 1st, we’ll tally the votes and along with an expert panel of judges — including Nick Sullivan the men’s fashion guru of Esquire Magazine, Simon Collins, the Dean of The School of Fashion at Parsons, and Noel Traum our own young shoe designer who graduated from the Milwaukee School of Fine Arts – we’ll narrow the field down to three finalists.  Those three finalists will work with our shoe craftspeople to turn their designs into actual prototypes.  The prototypes will again be on-line for your final voting starting March 26th with a winner selected during the first week of May.
 All three finalists will be featured at the big Parsons Fashion Benefit on May 1st and we’re very much looking forward to that evening.  In addition to the individual scholarships, we plan to feature the winning shoe design as part of our line next season and to make a donation to Parsons to help students in financial need.
Please join me in voting for your favorite designs before the end of the month, and watch the styles move from idea, to CAD drawing to prototype over the next few weeks.  Your input will be key to the contest’s success, so thanks very much!

Best wishes,

Paul D. Grangaard

President & CEO

Allen Edmonds Shoe Corporation