Don't Sleep On This American Shoe Company With 125 Years Of Heritage

Heritage company Florsheim creates classic shoes worthy of your attention.
IMAGE Instagram/ florsheimshoes

In the portfolio of styles of Florsheim, men speak well of the Kenmoor, the longwing brogues from its Imperial line. With its smooth calfskin leather, Goodyear welt construction, and solid appearance, it's a shoe that, while classic, posseses character. Whether for desk or date, you can't go wrong in a cognac, burgundy, or even black Kenmoor on your feet.

It's very good, but the problem is not many people know about it or Florsheim. In today's shopping landscape of glitzy labels with made-for-Instagram shoes, the American company gets lost in the shuffle. You may think: "These are the shoes that my dad wears. Not for me."

But consider this: Florsheim has been making shoes like the Kenmoor and other foot fancies for 125 years. That's a feat that not many companies, in fashion or otherwise, have accomplished. It's also impressive when you consider the very interesting and sometimes dramatic history of the heritage brand.  

A father and son started the company


In 1892, Milton Florsheim, together with his father Sigmund, established the Florsheim Shoe Company in Chicago. In the early years, the cobbler's son instituted many firsts in shoemaking, including the addition of Florsheim's name on the pullstrap and sole of its shoes, as well as the use of an x-ray, called a Flor-Scope, to examine feet for proper fit in the store.  

Florsheim played a role in World War I and II

The shoe company made and supplied boots for American soldiers. In fact, during World War II, half of its production run was dedicated to creating shoes for soldiers.  

It introduced modern shopping customs

Browsing the merchandise in store? Yup. Florsheim popularized the practice by taking its inventory from the back room and placing it onto the shop floor in 1949. Choosing from the entire collection? Did that, too, when it introduced computer kiosks that presented all styles to customers in 1984.

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The family gave up control

In 1952, the family sold Florsheim to the International Shoe Company. Harold Florsheim stayed on, running the shoe business for its new owners. In the beginning, Florsheim enjoyed tremendous popularity and growth in the men's shoe market, but later on, things soured. The quality of the shoes was also affected.  

But they got the company back

After decades of watching from the sidelines, a trio of Florsheims—Thomas Sr., Thomas Jr., and John—reacquired the company for the Weyco Group (a sort of rival shoe firm) in 2002. The fifth generation Florsheims soon worked to return the heritage company to glory. 

They partnered with an innovative shoe designer


In 2015, Florsheim released a special collection with shoe designer George Esquivel. All the shoes were handmade one at a time, and needles to say, the double monk boots, the wingtip in burnished green, and more looked beautiful.  

And now, they're celebrating 125 years

Florsheim goes back to the very beginnning, recreating five of its vintage silhouettes for a special 125th Anniversary Collection: a cap toe oxford, a wingtip oxford, a wingtip boot, a cap toe boot, and a double cap toe boot. Most draw inspiration from the company's advertisements, while the cap toe oxford has been recreated using the exact measurements of its original. 

See also this season's styles


What to wear here: The Venice Oxford is a classic wingtip brogue of calf leather and deer skin from the Royal Imperial collection, while the Whip Boot features a waterproof leather upper, Comfortech technology (keeps feet dry), and moisture-wicking lining—perfect for inclement weather.

Both are great examples of how the beloved company looks back to its heritage and toward the future.

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