Some shoes are destined to be modern classics—Fitflops, Keens and Miz Mooz shoes all come to mind—and then there are shoes that are bonafide classics, like Florsheim shoes. A staple in every well-dressed man’s wardrobe since 1892, Florsheim shoes are an indubitable tradition, surviving and thriving to outlast footwear trends that come and go. What makes Florsheim shoes such a tradition? The clues are in the Florsheim story...
From Chicago to the World
Florsheim shoes began with a man who had a plan for distributing hand-crafted shoes throughout the world. Milton Florsheim began producing his iconic shoes in a small Chicago factory in 1892, creating the first pairs of Florsheim shoes along with his father, Sigmund. These very first Florsheim shoes embodied the qualities the brand would become famous for: comfort, style and high-quality workmanship. Florsheim soon opened his first retail store in Chicago, but with an eye to nationwide, then worldwide distribution. It wasn’t long before magazines like The Saturday Evening Post and The Cosmopolitan took notice of this groundbreaking shoe company, and soon Florsheim saw his plan for larger scale distribution take shape. By 1898, even the US government was interested: Florsheim boots were standard issue for soldiers during the Spanish-American War. In the early years, Florsheim specialised in men’s shoes.
A Mark of Success
An astute businessman ahead of his time, Milton Florsheim added the name ‘Florsheim’ to the pull-strap and the insides of his shoes years before this became industry standard, so that consumers knew they were purchasing the genuine article. Before long, owning a pair of Florsheim shoes was considered a sign that a man had ‘made it’. By 1931, when the company began making Florsheim shoes for ladies, women could flaunt their Florsheim shoes as a sign of their success, too. The connotation was clear: when you could afford the best, you bought Florsheims, guaranteed to be constructed from high-quality leather, and always comfortable and attractive. By 1966, consumers were buying a pair of Florsheim shoes every four seconds. Florsheim shoes became popular all over the world, including here in Australia, and the company continued to be known for comfortable, high quality formal shoes while branching out into trendier and more casual styles, too.
Enduring Quality and Style
Few shoe companies have lasted as long as Florsheim has, and even fewer can boast that they’ve created shoe styles that have become iconic. The Riva slip-on dress shoe for men, for instance, first introduced in 1979, is still one of the company’s most popular styles, and the Florida boat shoe is a bonafide classic.
What about the Florsheim family? The company was run by professional managers for 50 years, but in 2002, the Florsheims bought it back. Ever since then, they’ve been introducing new styles and moving Florsheim forward, giving this grand old company a new lease on life. We’re loving what we see, and we think you will too.