12 months in: Alden Sloat Plain-Toe Boot for Unionmade

For the last year, I’ve been wearing a pair of Alden Plain-Toe Boots that I got from Unionmade Goods in San Francisco. The shoes are made in Massachusetts from natural Chromexcel leather, sourced from the Horween Factory in Chicago. These shoes are exclusive to Unionmade, and they are beautiful. I thought it would be good to share some pictures and talk about how they broke in.

The most comfortable pair of shoes I have ever owned. Sneakers included.
When I first got the boot, the natural leather had an almost-green hue to it. You can see the original color of these shoes in this post. Over time, the color became richer, and shifted to a golden brown color that is truly unique. I imagine that they’ll continue to age beautifully, and I fully expect that I’ll have these boots for the rest of my life.

You’ll notice that they have a shine to them, and that’s because I just got them back from the cobbler. while they are, by far, the most comfortable shoes I have ever owned (yes, including sneakers),  I do walk a lot, and that means I wear through my heel pretty quickly. Luckily, there’s a great cobbler in Portland who is able to replace the heel caps when I need a repair, and they put a nice shine on the shoe for me when they did the repair.

These shoes look great from every angle, including from the perspective of the ant that took this picture.

The construction is a Goodyear Welt, with an added storm welt for weatherproofing. You can see above that the cork/neoprene soles have tons of life left in them, and that the original storm welt is still in great shape. This storm welt started out a creamy flesh-colored leather and turned to a rich brown with regular wear.

Notice the darkening on the right side, above the heel.

The heel-cups on the shoe are even darker than the rest of the shoe, and that’s from friction against my pant cuff. over time, the shoe will likely darken even further, leaving a pair that is deep brown. Friction seems to have the greatest impact on the color, so the toe will probably stay lighter, while the rest of the shoe gets nice and dark.

Good shoes mold to your foot. That’s happened here.
In the picture above, you can really see the pull-up of the Chromexcel leather. This leather is really unique in its ability to stretch and form to the foot, and as it does, it forms patterns that are almost more like what you’d see on Shell Cordovan than what you’d see on most cow leathers. Chromexcel is really some remarkable stuff because it has so much character.
Shoes like this might set you back financially, but given that you’ll never have to replace them (assuming you take care of them), they are worth every penny in the long run. I’ve heard of a couple guys who inherited Aldens from their grandfathers, and after wearing these for a year, I can say that these shoes demonstrate that level of quality.

This pair was purchased at Unionmade, but similar Alden shoes can also purchased at Need Supply and a variety of other retailers.

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No free content was acquired in the creation of this post, however Need Supply links is one of our affiliates.

8 thoughts on “12 months in: Alden Sloat Plain-Toe Boot for Unionmade”

  1. Really nice. I am thinking of buying a pair, but was wondering about whether i’d like the light natural CXL — the dark patina of these makes me less reticent.

    BTW, what shoe laces do you have in them?

  2. The dark patina forms fairly quickly. While they start kind of fleshy in color, they’ll look pretty good after a month or so of wear. I currently have the original laces in them (the ones in the picture are the originals), but I sometimes switch them with a pair of either red or blue Benjo waxed boot laces. I will occasionally use Venetian Shoe Cream on these boots, which is the recommended cleaning/conditioning method for Chromexcel leathers. You typically apply it when the leather feels dry to the touch. Because the leather is so immensely fatty, you don’t have to condition them as frequently as you would other types of leather.

  3. Thanks for the info. I have never owned natural CXL, and was not sure about it, but man that color and patina on yours are really incredible. A pair may be in my future.

    Just curious, can you compare fit and feel to any other boots that you have worn?

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