Moulded Shoe, New York: Home of the modified last

Monday, December 5th 2022
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Moulded Shoe in New York is a charming shop. A family-run business now in its third generation, It’s narrow and tall, with shoe boxes stacked way up to a double-height ceiling. 

There are newspaper cuttings, customer photos and a Japanese cartoon on the walls. It’s from the old fashioned - and delightfully so - ‘more is more’ school of retailing. 

Still, as a clothes lover it’s unlikely you’d think there’s much here for you. They clearly sell Alden, but surely the Alden store on Madison will have everything this retailer could have? 

Not so. For this is one of the very few shops where you can get the modified last. 

The modified last from Alden creates a particular shape of shoe, with a slim waist, wide front and slightly bent inwards at the toes, following the shape of the foot (below). 

It’s a shape that’s more orthopaedic, perhaps prioritising comfort and functionality a little over aesthetics - unlike most dress shoes. It suits men with a narrow heel, wide joints (sometimes called a ‘spade’ shape) and high arches, which is a fairly large minority. 

The modified last is not sold widely because it is considered to be slightly odd, even ugly. Certainly, no shoe designer who was focused on design would make a shoe like this. 

However, this reputation might be exaggerated by the fact that the other shop known for selling the modified last, Antomica in Paris, puts men in rather large sizes. Pierre and Charles tend to insist on it

Anatomica is a wonderful menswear shop - one of those places that still remains a true destination - and should be celebrated and frequently visited. But it is rather frustrating that you can’t buy the modified last in the size you want. 

Hence my visit to Moulded Shoe in New York, and hence the conversation I’m having with the owner Ronnie. 

“Pierre first saw the modified last here,” he says, unlacing a boot for me to try. “He came in here and loved the shape, so he talked to Alden about offering it in his stores.”

I inquire about the preferences for sizing. 

“Yes, they tend to prefer more of a ‘fashion’ fit - longer and narrower. He thinks it’s flattering,” he says. 

I’m not sure about whether it’s more a fashion thing or not - certainly there’s more fashion going on at Anatomica than Moulded Shoe, but it’s not exactly French couture either.

Still, the difference in sizing was dramatic. After a quick measurement on the American-specific (‘Brannock’) scale, Maurice suggested a size 9D. Anatomica had recommended a 10.5C. 

The fit felt very good: close through the arch and ankle, but with plenty of room to wiggle the toes. A better fit than most ready-to-wear I have, and in some ways better than some bespoke.

On that original article about the modified last, reader ‘Plop’ got it pretty much spot on. In his experience, he said he’d recommend sizing down a half size on the modified, and perhaps a size narrower. I tend to wear a 9E in wider Alden lasts and a 9.5E in narrower ones.

I bought a pair of half-brogue boots in snuff suede (D8814), driven by the fit and the fact it would be my only chance to shop at Moulded Shoe (Alden don’t allow them to ship outside the US). 

I think the last shape works well in a boot because its idiosyncrasies are a little obscured by the design. But still, it’s the smaller size that makes the difference: when you’re not wearing a shoe that’s a full size bigger than you’d normally wear, the curved shape is a lot less obvious.

The last works particularly well on me because I have that 'spade' shape described earlier. (If you have flat feet or are wider in the heel, the Berrie or Trubalance lasts from Alden are better.)

But I know many other men do too - you only have to read the number of comments from readers asking about sizing in loafers, saying their heel always slips out. Chatting to Tony Gaziano a few weeks ago, he estimated that perhaps 20% of Gaziano & Girling customers fall into that bracket. Perhaps enough to justify a dedicated loafer last for some brands. 

It's in that context that the remark above about the fit of bespoke shoes should be taken. This one last works particularly well on me, and bespoke makers are often trying to create it from scratch. 

Of course, it's also not a fair comparison because those makers are trying to create a very visually attractive show at the same time. 

But it feels significant that while we were in the store, a reader did come in (pictured top) that had tried bespoke makers, been unsatisfied, and been recommended to try the modified last as an alternative. From a purely fit point of view, it can clearly fill a niche.

I'll take some photos of my boots in a few weeks to show how they look. I'll probably have a better idea of how I feel about them by then as well. 

Moulded Shoe sell other shoe brands, though not at the same level as Alden, and they make bespoke shoes, costing $1500-$2500 - but real orthopaedics. 

They don't make bespoke loafers full stop, because they think a laced shoe will always fit a customer better. 

Photography: Christopher Fenimore 

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Hi Simon, how useful are you finding these boots in Alden’s snuff colour? I guess best at home with chinos and jeans i.e. workwear, not with flannels?

I am considering a pair of Alden boots in the same snuff suede from Clutch, but am unsure whether its best to stick with a standard dark brown boot instead.

Many thanks.

Lindsay McKee

Gaziano & Girling would, I’m sure be able to modify any of their lasts,even on their RTW and certainly on their MTO which they’re doing on mine, albeit on their own shoes as they don’t stock an outside brand as does Moulded Shoe with the Alden shoes.
A very interesting post here.


Thats ridiculous that you state Anitomica ‘wont sell you a shoe in the size you want’? Surely that cant be right? If it is, it speaks of an arrogance on the part of the proprietor that would surely mean i will not visit them. I can see no justification for this and i would be interested to hear someone try and explain to me how this is acceptable?


Im afraid i don’t respect it. I have relatively large feet for my height. I note Simon that your are perhaps the opposite which is a blessing as shoes always look better in smaller sizes. For this reason i am always conscious of the size and length of the shoes that i wear. I have to avoid an elongated toe and i always seek to purchase the smallest size possible without giving up on comfort. The thought of being told that in spite of this – a shop owner would know better than i – and insist i go for a size bigger and then refuse to sell me the size that actually fits and is more appropriate for my stature at large speaks of a fundamentalist approach that i cannot get on board with. I don’t see how one can view the feet without taking into account the overall impression of a persons stature. Its like the sunk cost fallacy of footwear.


As a salesguy myself, there seems to be a rather obvious solution: When I think that the customer should buy another size, I make sure to tell them, politely and clearly…once. If they still prefer the size that seems off to me, I let them buy it. I don’t see why a salesperson would have to be either the “sell anything just to make a sale”-kind, or some pushy dictator who acts like the Soup Nazi from Seinfeld.

Brook Shepard

It is right. Trying going into Anatomica and saying “I shop at Molded shoe and I am an 11 D, what do we have in 11D?”
It will not be a frictionless conversation.
By the way, I do have shoes from Anatomica. Some super cool blue suede boots. Love ’em. They will yield. But it’s a process.


Happy to see I wasn’t far off sizing-wise 😉

Two things I’d like to add:

  • With regards to the “ugliness” of the last : ’tis true. However, it is significantly improved by cap toes (or brogue perforations or anything of that ilk), which, by visually breaking the shoe’s curve, make it appear straighter and less bulbous. I speak from experience: I own both a pair of PTBs (plain toe blutcher) and LWB (long wing), and the latter looks much more “normal” and inconspicuous than the former.
  • Concerning Moulded’s unability to ship outside of the USA : ’tis true too. But once you know your size on that last, it’s nothing a good proxy service can’t fix. I personally use and recommend Shipito, but YMMV.

Also, Anatomica aren’t the only ones selling the Modified last in Europe. For EU customers who know their size and will ‘accept no substitute’, Cappelletto shop in Treviso sells some models online (at a premium price), and Upper Shoes in Lyon has one model still on offer (a saddle derby in black cordovan, admittedly not the most versatile model imaginable).
For something similar to the Modified, look to Alden’s 379x or ‘Military’ last, which is somewhat less of a unicorn. Less aggressively shaped than the Modified, but still with a distinctly narrow waist and heel, and an endearing rounded toe shape.


I agree. Both the Modified and the 379x are too particularly shaped for any kind of guesswork, even based on other Alden lasts. Knowing about these retailers is potentially useful, but only if you’re, as I said, certain of your size (or have an opportunity to visit in person). And even then, take extra care when trying on models in cordovan; most shops will consider these unreturnable if even slightly creased.


The issue with these other shops : they do not offer a choice of widths. Which, at that price point, is not acceptable in my book.

As for the 379X: you’re right, it’s easier to find. But alas, Alden only offers that last in D and E widths — even on special orders.

Adrian Hogan

I’d say that illustration on the wall is by Hiroshi Watatani – a popular men’s fashion illustrator in Japan.


Very interesting article. Is the Alden modified last available in wide fits, e,g. EEE? Some information on pricing would be very useful.
I never allow any retailer to force me to buy a bigger shoe size than necessary (several have tried) so I’d stay clear of Anatomica.


Yes it is, although, as with every other “extreme” widths, you usually would have to order it and then be ready to wait 2 or 3 years for delivery.

If you have really wide feet, though, I’d consider having a look at the Trubalance last. It’s much easier to find compared to the Modified.


I wear Alden Modified Lasts shoes in 9.5 EEE. Moulded shoe regularly includes EEE in their orders. I own many pairs and have them resoled and repaired by Moulded shoe.

I dropped off two pairs today for resole and 1 pair of boots where I am having the speed hooks replaced by with eyelets.

Moulded Shoe is truly a special place and I would recommend a visit if you are coming to NY. You will want to be fitted in the shop.

Il Pennacchio

Moulded Shoe isn’t the sort of place one would expect to go for the atmosphere, but it’s a genuine piece of old New York that has so far survived gentrification.

Il Pennacchio

I don’t know this for certain, but whenever I see one of old surviving New York shops, I assume that the owner of the business owns the building too, or at least has a soft spot for it; otherwise market rents would have driven the shop out long ago.
In London, entire neighborhoods are often owned by a single landowner that curates the businesses to whom they let. Outside of a few very large developers, that’s rarer in New York, where a landlord might own a single building.

Il Pennacchio

I suspect I’m blind to how London and New York are similar in that respect because New York has nothing like the Portman, Cadogan, or Bedford Estates. At best there are small-ish to medium-sized landowners in Brooklyn or Queens, and even there old shops like Moulded Shoe are making way for yoga studios and third wave coffee.

Steve D

Cheers Simon, this is in my view the best piece on American style I’ve yet seen on your site. You captured the ambiance and experience perfectly. Hope you enjoy those boots and can’t wait to hear your thoughts as you experience them this winter. They helped me with a perfect fit in the chromexcel D8816H boot and I happened to be wearing them today when I saw this article. I used to think the Barrie was the last for me, but no more. Your article may help more folks walk easier than even your prescient sense might have anticipated. Well done.

JJ Katz

Love the look of a “proper” shop, with tons of stock, knowledgeable staff, hard-to-find products. Long may they prosper.


Argh I was just staying for a week on Bryant Park on a business trip and could easily have visited. I didn’t find anything that fitted at Alden on Madison. Next time!

Eric Michel

Sliding tongues drive me crazy with Alden boots. Cannot understand they have never been able to fix this on such expensive shoes. Never had this problem with any of the European brands in the same category. I have always ended up asking a cobbler to stitch the tongue…


Very good reminder. I have the same issue with the boots I dropped at Moulded Shoe for adjustments. I will have to ask Ronnie to stitch the tongues as well.

Robert M

Hi Simon, you say that the modified last is good for the spade-shaped foot, and Berrie or Trubalance for flat feet or wider heel. What if one has a flat-footed spade? 🙂


Why no shout out to the Crisis sale Simon?


Hi Simon,
Aside from all the technical and sales discussions, I just wanted to add that I love places like this and that they still exist. They exude a certain effortless (arguably shabby chic) charm and old school customer service. Hopefully long may they continue. Thanks for telling us about them.


Hi Simon!
great shoes and lovely story. What’s your Brannock size/measurement?
I assume it’s not 9 B as this is the suggested size in the reform last?


I’ve been intrigued by Alden for a long time, but when I’ve seen a pair in person – in Trunk and elsewhere – they’ve always seemed very heavy and clunky when compared with brands I’m more familiar with like Grenson or Trickers. Is this unfair? Perhaps they pair well with an old-school sack-suit? On the subject of the modified last, I thought all Indy boots were made to it – or is that not the case? I have to say as well that my perception of Alden took a bit of knock when I saw the recent Rose Anvil video where a pair were cut in two to reveal what looked like quite shoddy workmanship. I’m no cobbler, but would someone with greater knowledge be able to pass judgement on the quality of their products? The prices, while not quite at Edward Green levels are a definite step up from Trickers and the like…


Bingo. Alden is crazy overpriced, but they do not have any competitors when it comes to their specific style and their wide range of lasts

For some reason, European shoemakers that try to copy Alden’s offering always get it wrong. My guess is that European factories have a certain way of doing things (especially with regards to welts) which leads to European-looking shoes.

Grant Stone is possibly the only alternative that gets the styling right, but buying their made-in-PRC shoes requires a certain leniency towards genocidal regimes that I do not have.


At least with the two 20 years old cordovan shell derbies I own the original double soles were rather shoddy (been after few years replaced by Rendenbach oak tanned double soles that are still going strong).

And the heels were made of bonded leather (except the surface one) which when exposed for a longer time to wet paving collapsed and bulged outward convexly. None of my other shoes’ heels ever did that, though they get similarly exposed to rain.

So, with the additional investment in proper soles, they do make excellent shoes ;).


Great write up. Is there a reason why the modified last is under represented in the market? Do Moulded and Anatomica have contractual rights to it? I’m curious to see what the results would look like on more fashion leaning models, especially the collaborations done by other shops like Brogue California, Britck+Morter, etc. I fall under the 20% and would purchase multiple modified pairs if they were available in certain other models.


Alden’s official reason is that it’s a last that can easily mess up with your feet and should therefore only be sold by qualified resellers.

I find the argument dubious, considering a) that you can buy it online without ever having your feet measured by a shopkeeper, and b) that the two main stores for it give vastly different sizing advice. But it’s Alden’s line.

My suspicion is that, as Simon says, Alden doesn’t really care. The company sells every single pair of shoes that it manages to produce, so why bother with a weird last?


Just to mention again that Munich based Ed Meier has the Peduform last, which is a somewhat similar banana-shaped last. As far as I know, they are made by Crockett and Jones ( Its probably better to go there in person (the online shop is remarkably shitty but also kind of authentic for a company founded in 1596), but they are very comfortable.


Yes indeed, yet it doesn’t have that spade shape but looks more elegant. You might get a better impression from a video like this, the online shop, as mentioned, is horrible:
Thinking about it again, first time customers should definitely go there in person. They have ca. 100x more shoes on display than online and measure each customer’s feet very thoroughly.


The Modified Last is part of Alden’s orthopedic Footbalance Line. These were never meant to go into wide production and continue to exist as a niche offering.

The last is popular in Japan but retail pricing there is quite high compared to the USA. Also – I don’t think I would be able to find a 9.5EEE on a Japanese stock list….

Robert Oliverio

Simon, great content as usual. Uncovering these under the radar stories is interesting and useful. I’ve purchased a half dozen pairs of Alden’s over the years and been frustrated trying to find a good fit. It’s disappointing that in working with Alden directly and with other Alden retailers, I never became aware of the modified last. I was going to give up on Alden but now would like to try the modified last. For those of us who won’t be in Paris or New York anytime soon, can you uncover where else in the U.S. to find the modified last?


Wonderful article. One thing I’m confused about is the “ugliness” of the last. I own several pairs of Alden boots in Trubalance and Barrie lasts and from what I can tell, the modified last doesn’t look a hell of a lot different. I’m not an expert in footwear, but I am fairly well versed in style, and to me the footwear from the Moulded Shoe don’t seem any more ugly than any other dress shoes/boots. Curious if anyone else had a similar thought.


Thanks for the explanation, Simon. I’m intrigued by this last and will visit the shop next time I’m in nyc. I’m really curious what these shoes look and feel like in person.

Todd J

The guys at Moulded Shoe have been taking excellent care of me for almost 20 years. The modified last is the only dress shoe I can wear comfortably. I had excellent luck with a bespoke maker (Balint in Vienna); alas they are no more, and I am back to the boys at Moulded. This place is an absolute gem.


Hello Simon,
I live in NYC and visited Moulded Shoe after reading your article. Rafael fitted me with several shoes made on the Modified Last, and I liked the look and of feel of them. I am looking for a pair of brown leather Bluchers to wear with a navy sportcoat and gray flannel trousers, and Moulded Shoe offers several options made on the Modified Last: a Plain Toe, a Cap Toe, and the Alonquin. A Plain Toe is more versatile, but it was not the most flattering, while a Cap Toe seems more appropriate for a suit. I have a long, narrow foot, and the Alonquin with its apron and spit toe did the most to break up the vast expanse of the vamp, but would it be too casual for a blazer?
Thank you.


Hello Simon,
I have been wearing shoes on the Alden Modified Last and have found they fit my feet, with their high arches, quite well. Unfortunately, the selection of shoes available on the Modified Last is limited. The only black calfskin oxford option is made on the Balmoral Saddle Pattern with broguing on the seams. So, my question is would the Black Calfskin Plain Toe Bulcher made on the Modified Last be acceptable to wear with a dark navy suit made of wool serge?
Thank you.