$600 Alden shoes vs. $7,000 Silvano Lattanzi - an examination of diminishing returns in luxury shoes
This is a comparison of two very similar pairs of shoes at two very different price-points. One is from Alden, a mass-producer of footwear (albeit a very respected one within the American shoe industry); the other is from a comparatively tiny maker called Silvano Lattanzi, who make a fraction of the number of Alden’s pairs at ten times the price.
Both are split-toe, 5-eyelet derby shoes in black calf leather. Where possible I’ve comped together images of the Alden and Lattanzi shoes to really highlight the differences (and similarities).
Alden may be something of an institution in the US, but being UK based, Alden shoes are a relatively rare sight. They have very few UK stockists - the closest equivalent in price and quality is Crockett & Jones.
First quality new Alden shoes in the US are about $600, and there's pretty much price parity with the pound if you want to buy them here - again, due to the rarity of stockists.
Silvano Lattanzi bespoke shoes (as these are, although made for somebody else - I’m not made of money) retail for about $7,000. Which is a lot for a pair of shoes, I think we can all agree.
These top and side views clearly show how much sleeker the Lattanzi shoes are compared to the Alden’s. The split-toe runs higher up on the SL, and although the shoes are about the same length in strict external dimensions, the Lattanzi's look distinctly more elegant.
The Alden Aberdeen is considered their most trim, dressy last, although that is still relative to the styling common from American makers - compared to Italian or even a lot of British makers it's still quite a heavy look.
The bespoke last used by Lattanzi here is noticeably more chiselled and tapered at the arch of the foot.
Alden are rightly revered for their quality to price ratio - this is a solidly constructed shoe, with a handstitched Norwegian Stitched Toe section. Alongside Allen Edmonds, they are the most well-known Goodyear welted American shoemaker.
Lattanzi shoes are all handmade - the quality is well above makers like Edward Green and Gaziano & Girling - comparable or superior to bespoke like John Lobb or Cleverley. They're weightier than you might guess from the appearance, feeling much more substantial than comparably styled Edward Green or RTW John Lobb, and noticeably heftier than French makers like Berluti.
On the uppers you can see the difference in stitch density (about 2.5 x denser on the SLs) and neatness. The Silvano Lattanzi really are impeccably finished - not a single stitch out of place.
The welting on the Aldens is neat enough, but the Lattanzi shoes are a separate level of beauty. Double rows of stitching, with perfectly neat wheeled edges.
Both are on leather soles - the Silvano Lattanzi are very gently bevelled at the waist, though like a lot of “classic” bespoke makers the taper is more modest than aggressive. Presumably this could be exaggerated at the client's request.
For pure value for money the Alden are streets ahead. Hyper-luxury purchases like this see substantial diminishing returns when it comes to price - anyone who has tried to sell a Brioni suit on eBay will know how wide the gulf is between the RRP and what people will actually pay.
You can expect pretty impeccable quality at this price, as well as impressive detailing - as a tiny example. check out the stitching used in the lining of the Silvano Lattanzi which mirrors the three colours of the Italian flag.
Of course, if you can afford to drop $7k on a single pair of shoes, then the cost / value ratio is really unlikely to even factor into your decision making.