Tuesday, March 23, 2010

ALDO's epic fail

by frédérik sisa

I’ve been bubbly with enthusiasm lately so I thought I’d inject a note of negativity to shake things up a bit. No, I’m not going to pick on Simple Shoes for a boring men’s collection that consists of sneakers, potato sacks, and flip flops. Instead, I’m going to direct some disappointment towards ALDO, the Montreal-based shoe company whose stores are just about everywhere.

Once upon a time, ALDO shoes was my favourite shoe store. Other than a pair of very gothic kick-ass moon boots ornamented with industrial hardware, they offered one of the nicest slides around. The kicker, if you’ll pardon the pun, is that while the boots eventually expired after many years of wear, the sandals are still around and in great shape. That’s over 10 years, kids. Better yet, they’re still as stylish and contemporary today as they were back then, which says something about ALDO’s design sense. Check ‘em out:


But something happened. ALDO somehow stopped being forward-looking and became navel-gazing instead. Looking very much like a derivative of Italian style, with an obsession for pointed footwear, ALDO lost the appeal it once had. The shoes are fine in general, for what they are – reflections of trends that have no unique identity but nevertheless are robustly and capably designed.

(Image of slide "Arendal" from aldoshoes.com. Interesting grommet detail.)(Image of shoe "Hattabaugh" from aldoshoes.com)

Sandals, however, are a different matter. Yep, you guessed it. Most of what they offer us gents consists of flip flops. Gone are the days of slides with nice detailing like straps, cut-outs, and toe loops. Or are they?

While browsing through the Spring collection – hope springs eternal, says the cliché – I came across this bad boy:

(Image of the mighty "Edland" from aldoshoes.com)

Oh yeah. A gladiator sandal. Finally, something different. Gladiators have been all the rage in women’s footwear for a few seasons now, and only the priciest brands offered anything for men. Now, at last, a great-looking pair of sandals at a price within reach.

For a couple of weeks I – well, “pined” is not the right word – kept an eye on these, debating whether to order them online or visit a store. I opted for the store option and called around; the Beverly Center store was the only one that carried them. Off I went, then, to give them a try and…they only come in dark brown, the heel cup is strangely weak, and the footbed/sole is flat enough to qualify as two-dimensional. The upper, with toe loop and double-buckle ankle closures, is great. Needless to say, I don’t do brown. Ever. Strike one. The heel cup was a bit too weak for the shoe. Strike two. And I like a bit of soul in my soles, so strike three. ALDO’s out.

It’s apparently enough of a bummer for me to resort to sports metaphors. And it shows why I somehow keep mistyping ALDO as ALSO. As in: also ran. Given the standards set by previous efforts and the designs of artisans like Kiwis, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect more from established, professional design brands like ALDO. Or is it?

In any case, that’s my report for the week. I may have a consolation prize to write about sometime soon. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about your shoe shopping experiences out there…which stores do you love, hate, or just don’t get? Show us some love and leave a comment below!

2 comments:

Aqua said...

ALDO quality is really lacking for women as well and all my girls agree. Plus whenevs I visit their stores, I don't drool. There's never a "must have". Thumbs down. Sorry you missed out on some fun sandal love!

Frederik Sisa said...

Ah, well, you win some, you lose some. And I agree, their women's shoes aren't particularly inspiring, even when not judged against the high standards of United Nude.

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