The Alden modified last, and Anatomica sizing

Friday, April 1st 2022
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Alden has this particular shape of shoe, on what is referred to as the ‘modified’ last. 

It’s unusual, almost orthopaedic in appearance, with a narrow waist that hugs the middle of the foot and rather bulging sides to fully accommodate the joints. 

It’s got a bit of a following, and has become something of a curiosity in menswear. So I was interested to try it when I visited Anatomica, in Paris, recently. 

Anatomica has become well known for the modified last, as one of the few stockists in the world, and also for recommending larger than normal shoes to customers, in the name of comfort. 

As always, it is the sole of the shoe that shows the last shape best, and above you can see something of the distinctive wavy lines of the modified last. 

It’s slightly ‘banana shaped’, meaning it curves more around the outside of the foot but is straighter on the inside. 

This makes anatomical sense, given your big toe is the longest point of the foot, not the middle one. Most shoes involve some kind of compromise between body and style, and the modified last tips that balance a little more in favour of the body. 

In the picture below, Anatomica founder Pierre Fournier attempted to illustrate this with two sketches, one showing a normal last shape (right) and the other the modified last (left). 

Note how the right-hand shape has to cut the big toe (in white, underneath) in half. The jagged lines indicate pain!

There are other idiosyncrasies to this style of shoe too. 

The heel is asymmetrical, being it’s longer on one side than the other. You can see that in the photograph of the sole above, although it’s the kind of thing you probably wouldn’t notice until someone pointed it out. 

The sides of the shoe at the ankle are also asymmetric, with the outside cut lower than the inside (below). 

This is something you see more on other shoes, particularly bespoke ones. Have a look at my bespoke Cleverley shoes here, for instance, and note how low the sides are cut. 

You’re also more likely to see that ‘banana’ shape on bespoke shoes, as makers have more freedom to adapt the shape when they think a customer needs it. 

Foster & Sons did that with the bespoke shoes they made for me in 2016, shown here. Although interestingly no other shoemaker has felt it necessary. 

When you try the modified last, you do immediately notice a difference. The arch and instep are held more tightly, and there’s a puddle of room around your toes. 

It does look unusual too - not to turn and stare at on the street, but the kind of thing even a non-shoe obsessive would notice after a while; rather like the effect created by the typical narrow waist and thin welt of a bespoke shoe. 

However, at Anatomica it is hard to see the last in isolation, because of their aforementioned attitude to sizing. 

Pierre believes that most people wear shoes that are too small for them, making their feet needlessly uncomfortable at the front. 

They should be wearing shoes that are longer - but not necessarily wider. So you go up a size, but take a narrower fitting, meaning the width of the shoe remains almost the same as it gets longer. 

When Pierre measured me, for example, he wanted to put me in a 10.5C (American sizing*) rather than a 8.5E. 

That is quite a lot narrower, but then the modified last is also wider at the joints than a regular shoe anyway. You can see the two shoes compared above - my Edward Green in an 8.5E on the left, and the Alden modified last on the right. 

The shoe did feel comfortable, but the oddest thing was not the extra length, but the fact that the joint of the my little toe - the widest point on the foot - was not at the widest point of the shoe. It was about a centimetre further back. 

The other aspect of having a longer shoe is that the front will wrinkle rather more, folding in more than once place. You can see how this looks over time with Pierre’s shoes below. 

This is rather accentuated by this Anatomica model, which is unlined throughout the shoe, including the front. This made for the most comfortable cordovan I’ve ever tried, but doesn’t help with the wrinkles. 

I can see the advantages of the modified last, and I’d be interested to try it some time. I have friends who swear by it, and like the unusual look. 

I wasn’t as convinced by the argument for larger sizing, but then I also haven’t tried it in person, at least on the modified last, so I can’t really judge. 

But it has convinced me that I should size up a little, at least in loafers. 

I mentioned in my recent article on Crockett & Jones loafers that I was realising I’d prioritised the fit in the heel too much over the years, at the expense of comfort at the toes. Voices like Pierre’s push me further in that direction. 

“It’s just inevitable with a loafer,” he said. “I remember an American in here, overhearing someone talk about heel slippage, and slapping and sliding around the shop to show that a little bit of it was fine. He looked so much more elegant than someone creeping around in pinched toes.”

So I’ll carry on buying 9 rather than 8.5, and these Edward Greens will go in for a bit of a stretch. 

In the meantime, if anyone wants to try the modified last in the US, Moulded Shoe in New York is good. Ben did a nice article on them on Stitchdown here

Read more about Anatomica, its history and other beautiful clothes, on our previous article here

*Pierre says American and English sizing are the same historically. It's just that the English preferred to put people in smaller shoes for commercial reasons, which is why English shoes and indeed measuring come up smaller. I wear a 9 or 9.5 in Alden normally, so that's not so far off the 10 or 10.5 the Anatomica guys were recommending.

Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt

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Andrew

Hi Simon, Pierre’s suggestion on most people wearing shoes that are too small is consistent with my experience when I started having bespoke shoes made. When I had my first pair of shoes made by Stivaleria Savoia, they said that the shoes I previously wore were too short and didn’t have enough room in the toes. The different fit took a bit of getting used to, and the shoes do have more wrinkles in the front, but they are definitely more comfortable over time. I have sold all of my old GG MTO shoes as a result.
Best, Andrew

Andrew

Maybe the shoes you were wearing fit better than mine did.

Gregoire

Anywhere you can try modified last in London? I have exceptionally wide feet and feel like this might help!

Plop

Browns used to (of all places!), but they stopped selling Alden a few years ago (around… 2018?). I got a few good deals back then, as they were unloading their stock in a fire sale.

As a general rule, I wouldn’t trust Anatomica’s sizing advice. The team at Moulded Shoe in New York has been selling the Modified for considerably longer, and they disagree with Anatomica’s comments about length.

Each foot is different, but my recommendation for this last would be: get measured on a Brannock device, then go -½ a size in length, and, depending on your instep, -1 in width too. For example, I’m a Brannock 10.5C with fairly low instep and wear a 10B on the Modified.

It is, by far, the most comfortable ready-to-wear last for my feet, by the way. Everyone should give it a go — for me it was something of a revelation.

Gary

I also have very wide feet and buy 7 fit shoes (H fit in other brands) and 6 fit boots from Tricker’s. They are often not available online. Other options are Crockett & Jones’s G fit (not much choice now sadly) or G/H fit shoes from Cheaney, Sanderd and Barker. It’s worth spending a day in Jermyn Street trying on shoes to find which brand and fit(s) suits you best.

Ajbjasus

Alden started out as an orthopaedic shoe manufacturer, I believe.
I wonder if the modified last is nearer to the shoes they originally made?

Peter

Whilst booting up PS this morning it struck me Simon that with your level of credibility and consistently serious tone you’re uniquely well placed to land a knockout April fool. I’m thinking exhaustively detailed and glowing review of a cavernous 600$ Vetements hoodie

Peter Hall

Permanent Style Christmas jumper…

George

For me i would not be keen on sizing up. I have relativly large feet for my height and i am quite concious of it [5ft9 with Uk size 10 feet]. Wearing a larger shoe would not work for me. Simon, you appear to have relativly small feet considering your hieght so i can see that sizing up might work for you. I have made the mistake in the past of buying shoes to small and its always regretable as you never get the wear out of them that you should. However shoes generally look better in smaller sizes. Theres a reason that the display shoes in shops are always in small sizes.

Tim

I totally recognize your experience. My feet are quite wide and blobby, kind of like hobbit feet but more proportional to my size. At 5’10” wearing size 8.5UK in the widest width available isn’t too bad, but before I found out about widths I’d have to go up to a 10 or 10.5 even and that indeed made me quite self-conscious. It just does not look good at all — attractive shapes everywhere in life, including in menswear, are dictated by proportions, and small, shaped shoes are often undeniably beautiful.
The modified last does alleviate my problem a little due to its exaggerated shape and width compared to a slim heel, so perhaps it will help you as well. The only downside, is that the quality level is always a level below the usual Alden stuff, which includes the welt. The end result is a very wide, sloppily finished welt around a toe shape which is already quite round. The stitching is also not very close to the shoe in some places, which means it can’t easily be trimmed without replacing the sole entirely. A real shame, because it’s otherwise a lovely shape for folks like me struggling finding attractive shaped shoes in a size which looks proportional.

Al

Simon, on the question of loafer sizing, do you wear your Edward Green loafers in the same size as their lace-up models? Any notable differences in terms of fit and comfort?

Zhong

Simon, you’ve mentioned several times that it is not quite easy to get the size right with loafers. Unfortunately, I can only order through EG’s web shop. Could you please give more tips on size and width? How loose should the heel be? Thanks a lot!

Felix

Eduard Meier, a very renowned but also quite traditional store in Munich does something similar with their banana shaped “Peduform” lasts (http://www.edmeier.de/von_schuhen/peduform.html, I believe C&J actually produces them, but not completely sure, the shoes would be completely different from C&J’s standard offerings). In general, the store is likely worth an article if you ever leave the UK, it’s a very special place.

Keith

As Felix said, Eduard Meier in Munich has also espoused the banana shape with his Peduform last. I have three pairs of the shoes, all in B width, and while they are unusually narrow and long, I usually get positive feedback when I wear them.
Alden probably have the largest range of lasts in widths ranging from B to E (I wear a 10B on the Aberdeen and Hampton lasts). Unfortunately, the B and C widths are only available in the United States. The commitment of Alden to such a variety of lasts in unusual widths is admirable.

SAO

Very interesting. Modified lasts, let alone bespoke shoe commissions, are another world for me, but the ‘footwear iconoclasm’ of Anatomica is fascinating and instructive. I sometimes think I have a variety of shoes and boots that are all uncomfortable in different ways. On the heel slippage and loafer question, I must confess I don’t fully grasp the thinking. Obviously, you want to avoid cramped toes, but a poor fit in the heel is quite likely to lead to heel blisters with loafers if you wear them for long, simply on account of the design. I have one pair of loafers that are perhaps a touch too big (Pierre might approve…) but the moving heel is definitely a problem. I have been trying to solve it with insoles, tongue pads, heel grips, etc etc., but not wholly successfully.

Alexander

This article supports my suspicion that the tiny amount of heel-slippage in my alden cordovan loafers is just about right. At the beginning I thought I ordered them too large. Thanks

Fred

Interesting….I will definitely go and have a look when next in Paris. I think my main question would be around how flattering I would find a longer last. I have always avoided Italian and french shoes for this reason as I find they can look a little medieval… if you know what I mean? But alden shoes are a little less pointy so I suppose the effect might be little different.

Ryan Nix

Do you know if Pierre carries the Alden LHS penny loafer in color 8? I’ll be in Paris in a few weeks and would love to try them in the modified last before deciding on which version to purchase.

Gary Mitchell

I like my shoes/boots snug, hate them feeling big but… because I order online so much I often err on the side of caution and order bigger rather than smaller in brands I have not tried (big is better then small). Result is a few pair of shoes that had I tried in a shop I would have passed on the basis of being too big but because I cant be arsed to send them back in the mail I just wear them with thicker socks… who knew, they end up being so comfortable! Not that my normal size is not comfortable but bigger definitely works. Ah vanity, some things we need bigger, some things we need smaller… life eh.

Shoefan

Interesting article — thanks.

The notion of a more curved last certainly makes sense for comfort for many feet. As the picture shows, many lasts ‘clip’ the big toe a bit. However, it is worth noting that the last is wider above the sole (i.e. the walls of the last are convex or curve out), so the picture exaggerates the degree to which a shoe with the sole shape shown would clip the toes. Comparing the imprint of a foot — which reflects the foot where it touches the ground and which can be analogized to the sole shape — to the tracing of the foot — which reflects the widest part of the foot — will show a significant difference.

A general rule of thumb for last design is that the last allows 2 ‘sizes’ beyond the longest toe, ie. 2/3 inch of room forward of that point, for a typical round toe shape. For narrower toe designs, that will be greater. So, just because the last’s longest point is centered on the 2nd or 3rd toe, rather than the big toe, does not inherently mean the last will clip the big toe.

The notion of using a longer size is strange to me, for the reason you point out — the design of a bespoke last or the fitting of a rtw shoe focuses, to a substantial degree, on the the location of the joints, particularly the inside joint (or ‘ball of the foot’). Think about the Brannock device, which measures not only length and width at the joint but also specifically identifies the location of the joints. The joint location is supposed to be the widest part of the last, as it is the widest part of the foot. So, why fit a shoe with the joint behind the widest part of the last? Yes, this will provide a last with more toe room, but a wider fitting will do the same. Also, Alden is known more generally for offering ‘combination’ lasts, which features a narrower heel relative to the forefoot, which is another way to provide more toe room whilst having the joint properly located and holding the heel in place. Having the joint behind the widest part of the last will tend to cause the foot to slide forward (particularly in a loafer which has a lesser ‘grip’ on the foot and which has less precise fitting due to lack of adjustment available with laced shoes), which in turn will exacerbate heel slippage.

In the ‘olden’ days, when rtw makers offered multiple sizes and there were many manufacturers, each with their own last designs, a quality shoe salesperson knew how to fit customers to a shoe built on a last shape and size that worked well with the customer’s feet. Some makers had ‘lower volume’ lasts, others featured higher arches and insteps, some had the angle between inside and outside joints different than other companies, some featured lasts with more curvature, etc. These factors would influence the recommendations for the customer. Today, that is pretty much non-existent.

When making a bespoke last, the first step in working from a generic last blank to the finished last is specifying the location of the joints, since that is critical to the fitting of the last to the foot. Second is deciding the length of the last beyond the longest toe (based on the type of toe shape and nature of the customer’s forefoot), and third is placing where the center of the last’s ‘toe’ will be. Of course, there are many decisions after this, but those 3 are critical to the fit of the last.

I’m not sure I believe the source of US vs. UK sizing discrepancy is as stated. The two countries start with a slightly different length for their Size 0 lasts, and all other last and shoe sizing flows from that. Ascribing that different starting point to wanting a smaller number in the UK seems a stretch, given those decisions were made a long time ago. That said, the UK’s cultural preferences have seemingly been for a shorter and slimmer fitting; this was thought to be more ‘elegant.’ Finally, if one looks at the shoes and boots historically entered into shoe competitions, these were always small, very slim, and quite straight, which again was thought to be a more elegant look. No competition shoes I’ve seen would fit any foot that I’ve seen. So, to the degree that rtw shoes and bespoke lasts reflect these same notions, then comfort and fit may give way to the aesthetic decisions that flow from the cultural preferences.

As for the upper being cut lower on the outside, that is common for any upper design or maker I know of, The outside ankle bone is lower than the inside one, so that is reflected in basic upper design. In looking at a range of shoes, including: Footjoy, Allen Edmonds, Alden, Santoni, Paraboot, E. Green, C&J, Grenson, Tod’s, they all feature uppers cut with a lower outside. Books about upper design also provide guidance for a lower upper on the outside than the inside.

Haackk

I find this topic very interesting. I have myself ordered two pairs of shoes from Oct.Tenth on a modified last, where the toebox is half a size larger than the rest of the shoe. Very comfortable, somewhat odd looking, but not too much. And the creasing is much more pronounced on several places, as there is excess material spread through the toebox.
On my other shoes with modified lasts I have settled with a fitting piece on the left and right side of the toebox, which isn’t as comfortable as a half size up, but more comfortable than no modification, obviously.
On loafers I have somewhat accidentally ordered a half size larger than what makes the instep and heel sit tight. I have found that the heel sleep can be quite uncomfortable, giving me several blisters. So I don’t use those shoes that much.

K K

I find the comment about shrinking UK shoes sizes bizarre. I have tried buying vintage unworn English shoes several times, by C&J, Grenson etc., from the 1930s-50s on ebay and they are always too small by at least a full size compared to the same UK sizes today, as I have made the same mistake several times in the expectation that last shape makes a difference. A shame as they are like hen’s teeth to find in as new condition. Interesting that Anatomica recommends sizing up, since most men’s shoes in France, it seems to me, have ridiculously pointy or constricted toe boxes. So perhaps sizing up is a reaction to this. However, while sizing up may create more comfort for the toes, the extra creasing on the vamp over time can lead to abrasion on the top of the foot where the leather dips. Ah, the perils of the ready-made shoe.

Philip Mann

The smallest shoes I ever had were bespoke. There seems to be no way out of it…

Philip Mann

Are all Alden shoes on the Modified Last or just some ? It strikes me though that the Modified Last and buying shoes a half size or so up are different approaches. While the Modified Last grips you at the heel and instep and gives you plenty of room in front, buying a longer, narrower shoe means you kind of end up with more of a tube !? I’m normally a 8.5 F English. With a Morjas Penny (which is supposed to fit identical to a C&J Boston) I recently first bought a 8.5 which seemed fine at first but then turned out too small on wearing. Now I’ve got a 9 here but am a little terrified of wearing it out as when I push forward into the shoe there is quite a bit at the heel… any advise from you, Simon ? You seem to be a similar size though a little narrower in the first place.

Philip Mann

I have no choice really. What I recommend to anybody is what a shoemaker at Lobb’s told me: Too ‘flex’ any shoe before you wear it, also after resoling. I.e.: Bend the sole upwards completely so the shoe looks like an upside down boomerang. Then straighten out again by overbending just slightly in the other direction… I also have the beginning of a halux valgus now. Terrified of ending up with ‘sensible’ shoes.

Philip Mann

It does but especially with thick soles, it takes a while. Flexing is a shortcut if you don’t want to walk around with rigid shoes for a while which is not good for feet and ankles. Of course flexing should be avoided with shoes that have wooden shanks. I think they are rare though.

Josiah Goldsmith

Interesting. I’ve always found that I buy shoes too large for my feet (most likely a result of my parents telling me I should have a thumb’s width of space in the toe growing up, to accommodate my rapidly growing feet!) but now I’m wondering whether my concept of ‘too big’ is actually ‘just right’.

Having said that, I also have rather long big toes. I’ve found, in the past, that shoes that are too large place my toes in the narrower part of the toe box, pinching them together. Thus in my case, sizing down a bit actually gives my toes MORE space (albeit at the sacrifice of a bit of length around my big toes).

I wonder whether all this advice simply needs to be qualified with the caveat of ‘different feet SHAPES require different methods of sizing shoes’.

Noel

Just like you Simon my loafers and laced shoes have the same size. However, I’ve been considering going half a size down on loafers to avoid heel slippage. This article has made me consider if this would be wise as I might feel pain in my toes eventually.

Maurice

Aldens on the modified last used to be sold in one shop in Amsterdam (this was one model, for a very short time around 2014 I think, and the shop has had to close since). The salesman, who is known by experienced shoe aficionados throughout the Netherlands for his knowledge and expertise, strongly recommended a size 8C for my feet (whereas on the Barrie last I wear a 7D). I took his advice and was rewarded with the most comfortable shoes I have ever worn. Unfortunately, once they had been resoled by a local cobbler the precise fit around the midfoot was gone. My feet were no longer secure in these looong shoes and I had to sell them, with much regret.
I have since found some sort of alternative in Aldens 379x or ‘military’ last (revived from their archive by Lakota House, a Japanese shoe store). The 379x is less aggressively asymmetrical or ‘banana’-shaped than the modified last, but its arch support and grip around the midfoot are reminiscent of it, as is its endearingly rounded toe shape. Shoes on the 379x are also a little easier to find. I’d say the sizing is similar to the Barrie last.
For those in continental Europe who are thinking of hunting down the modified last, Cappellettoshop in Treviso has some models (at eye-watering prices, mind you) and perhaps Upper Shoes in Lyon has some pairs left (although I think they’ve started to offer the 379x instead).
And Anatomica of course. 🙂

Tom

Kafka in Aberdeen have a shoe in black and brown on the 379x last. They normally sell Alden at the E width too unlike most retailers in the U.K.

https://www.kafkamercantile.com/uk/item/40521/Alden/M1405-Mil-Spec-Officer-Shoe—Madison-Brown.html

Tim

I was thinking that resoling those modified last shoes was going to be tough, and this serves as a solid warning. I’m not aware of many of these types of proper craftsmen in this country (nearly everyone advertising bespoke tailoring is lying to your face or simply ignorant with some half-assed MTM product, but I digress). Have you by any chance since found a skilled cobbler capable of resoling these modified last shoes? I don’t want a worn-out sole to be the end of my most comfortable pair of shoes too…

Maurice

Hello Tim, I eventually did find a skilled cobbler in Amsterdam who has resoled some of my shoes – Aldens as well – with quite satisfactory results. But then again, nothing with as unforgiving a shape (to a cobbler, that is) as the modified last. To be honest, I wouldn’t count on any local cobbler to faithfully preserve that very particular shape and fit. I’d sooner (have my Alden retailer) send the shoes back to Alden in the USA for a complete restoration; not cheap but not as expensive as you might think either (or so I gather).

Jack

Interesting. Could I ask where you would send your pair of Edward Green’s for a stretch?

Many thanks,
Jack

Tom

What sort of size increase can be achieved by stretching? I’ve several pairs of loafers that I wear little, as I sacrificed toe space for heel grip. I’m wondering if stretching might be the solution.

Relatedly, would you recommend going to a cobbler above buying a shoe stretcher and doing it one’s self? Or is it easy enough?

Thanks very much.

Jack

I should try, although from reading your comment below, it won’t help much. I am pretty frustrated with my MTO Edward Green’s Belgravia as I feel restricted around my toe box, especially my little toe, and I have been wearing this for around six times now.
I own UK 8.5E for Banbury, which felt okay on the toe box, although I had a slight issue with heel slippage. Since loafers don’t have laces and ankle support like Banbury, I thought 8.5 E would not work, which led me to go for 8 F, but I have slight heel slip and tight toes. Would you say this investment was a failure? Should I forget and move on if the stretch doesn’t help me much?

Alexander

Anything special to consider with stretching suede as opposed to calf? My armoury loafers could benefit from a little bit more width in the toe box. Thanks

Alexander

My cobbler advised against stretching (although he does that too) and used a leather-softener-spray on the inside of the shoe (on calf you would use it on the outside, which is technically better). You would then wear the shoe immediately for a couple of hours. The idea is that the shoe then only stretches where your own foot directs it. He argued that this way the stretching is more precise and controlled. I can already feel the positive difference on day one. You can run this infinite times apparantly. I would recommend it to fellow readers.

Alexander

Yes, I can see that point. My cobbler advocated the spray method, because my issues are minor. My shoes are wearable, just after some hours or when my feet swell I get some pressure points. If the problems were bigger, he would have tried stretching. With stretching I see also a risk, especially with loafers: the shoe may stretch in areas that were fine before and that gave you necessary grip.

Robert

Am I wrong or does the Edward Green 202 last resemble in some ways the Alden modified last. My pair of Dovers have a narrow heel and tight waist, the banana shape on the outside of the foot, and some extra length (more than I am used to) above the toes. They are also supremely comfortable.

clive

I think this is an interesting article on the technicalities of fit, but sadly I think the shoe itself is really unattractive.

I am lucky that, no matter which model, anything on the C&J 341 last fits me like a glove and feels super comfy straight out of the box.

Oliver S

Interesting – this looks very much like how Altra design their running shoe, with an anatomical shape and toe box rather than the more standard ‘pointy’ shape where the longest post is above the 2nd or 3rd toe. Altra shoes are usually comfortable but look a little odd, however the Alden dress shoe with the same shape is definitely more subtle.

J

Thank you for the interesting article! I will surely try the modified last.
I think I did sacrifice comfort to “fit” in the past (pinched toes). Shoes I thought initially I bought a little too large in the long term seemed to “fit” better.

After realizing this I sized up when I bought my Paraboot Michael some weeks ago. I hope the heel slippage will settle a bit after the break-in-period.

J

Haackk

It didn’t with me. I had to put an extra insole inside, as well as a tongue pad. Now they’re actually pretty comfortable.

Rik

Fascinating article and reader comments Simon. You’ve had more experience with bespoke shoes than most! How does that experience tally with Pierre’s advice here on sizing? Presumably you’ve had footwear that fits “perfectly” in a way RTW never can. It always feels like the choice is between a little too tight or a little too loose

Rik

Thanks Simon

Haackk

That is very interesting. Do you feel that Pierre is right with regards to your bespoke shoes? I.e. that they’re too tight in the toebox? Are they slightly uncomfortable to wear for a prolonged time period?

DF

Hi Simon – excellent article and I’m very excited to discover the modified last; dress shoes have been crushing my toes for years.
Lately I’ve been trying to find a decent looking and decently well made pair of sneakers (something Common Projects-esque) but in a more anatomically accurate shape. Lots of brands make “barefoot” style casual shoes but in my experience they tend to be poorly made and very ugly.
The Alden modified last shows that a foot-shaped shoe can be both well made a reasonably good looking. Has anyone done something similar in a sneaker?

Maurice

Simon did mention Wakouwa – canvas deck shoes with a vulcanised sole, shaped around Aldens modified last – in his previous article about Anatomica. Kafka in Aberdeen (mentioned in an earlier comment on this page) have a few pairs left in their sale shop.

These are of course quite different from Common Projects. In that category, I find that CQP offers somewhat better arch support and a nice fit around the heel.

Naush M

Thanks for the article, Simon. I am also trending towards buying half a size larger to avoid cramping in the toe box. This works very well for lace-ups, but for loafers the heel slippage remains a concern, as you and others have also noted.
Whilst stretching may be employed to provide a little extra room for tight shoes, do you have any suggestions to very slightly reduce heel slippage? Thicker socks sometimes work, but not practical in a warmer season.

Eric Thuilleux

I went to buy a pair of Alden boots in Anatomica years ago. I went there because I had no other choice at the time since i absolutely wanted to buy a pair of Modified Last and it was the only place in France where you could get them. I had absolutely no trust in their honesty as they were claiming at that time that they were the only place in the world selling Modified Last that Alden was presumably making specifically for them.
I knew that to be false as I had travelled to Japan and seen many modifed Last shoes there !
Also they were selling canvas lined shoes at a higher price than leather lined shoes everywhere else…
So I didn’t pay any attention to their advice for sizing :
My Barrie Last size was 9D and the salesman wanted to buy 10,5. I tried them on just for fun, and I could actually fit my foot plus my hand in the shoe at the same time !
Then I asked for 9D, tried them on, found them incredibly comfortable, and bought them…
Since then I have bought six more Modified Lasts shoes and booots, from MouldedShoe in NYC (great friendly service everytime), always in 9D, and these are all the most comfortable shoes I own.
All the details that you mentionned, like the asymetrical heels that provide more support, and the lower outside which are easy on the ankle bone, the tight waist and the wide toebox, all combine to make an incredibly comfortable shoe (and I have flat feet and joint issues) with the support that you will definitely lose if you buy 1,5 extra size !
I can understand how adding ½size can make for a faster comfort of wear, and as a shoe salesman myself I know that this can be a safe move as more customers come back complaining about a shoe being too small than too big. When the shoes are too small customers usually fell like you tried to con them, forcing them to buy a smaller shoe with the promise of gradual breaking in. When the purchased shoes are too big, customers will be more likely to forgive you :o)
But 1 extra size, or in some cases 1½ extra size is definitely too much, and will not only lead to odd looking shoes, with tons of extra creases, but also may very often cause comfort issues with the foot being misplaced in the shoe and the very deep creases causing blisters for instance…
Sorry for being so long, I just love the modified last and resent the fact that they’re so hard to get !
And to answer Felix’ comment on Eduard Meier, last time I was at the C&J factory, they were indeed making their shoes…

Eric Thuilleux

That place is a treasure. Worth the trip !

J

Hi Eric, what kind of shoe trees do you use with the modified last?

Jack

Hi Simon,
I am considering investing in suede loafers, but I am struggling to choose a size. For instance, size 8 fits nicely around the heel but slightly tight across the ball of the foot and toes, and size 8.5 fits comfortable across the ball of the foot and toes, but there was heel slippage with skinny socks.
Staff from the shop who helped me suggested I go for the former as he thinks it will stretch a lot. However, I had a terrible experience choosing the tightly fitted loafers as they never stretched to the comfortable level I expected initially. Also, I remembered reading the article. Therefore, I decided to hold the decision as I thought it would be good to ask for your thoughts.
From your experience, how did you find going up a half size up for Harvard? Did you have any heel slippage when you weren’t wearing thick socks? Also, have you sized up for your new unlined Belgravia? If so, how did you find the fit?

Many thanks,
Jack

Ernesto

I purchased two pairs of Alden for Anatomica (modified last) boots. They are the best shoes as far as comfort and style. I don’t understand why Alden doesn’t produce these on a larger scale. The shop is beautiful and the customer service is amazing.