Why They’re Still So Popular After 150 Years
Classic, traditional, and dependable, Johnston & Murphy manufacture a wide range of footwear, apparel and accessory items for men and women, though historically, they’re best known for their lines of men’s shoes.
Having previously been best-known for golf and dress styles, today their diversified lines allow you to pick from black tie all the way to casual weekend wear.
- Guys who prefer classic, tasteful styles over trendy or fashion-forward details.
- Men who are willing to pay a bit more for shoes that are durable, comfortable, and in many cases, able to be refurbished down the road.
- Conservative, traditional, corporate and casual to dress business environments.
- All ages that wear adult shoe sizes, but will appeal mostly to men in their mid-twenties and older.
- And finally, Johnston & Murphy shoes would make a great choice for those who may not wear dress shoes often, but still need one really nice, classic, reliable pair in their wardrobe.
How They Managed to Stick Around
When a company has been making shoes for more than 150 years, you have to assume they’ve done something right.
In the case of Johnston & Murphy, they’ve actually done several things really well. Most importantly, they’ve built a strong fan base by manufacturing classically styled shoes with mainstream appeal. They’ve earned the loyalty of those customers by placing an emphasis on quality, comfort, style and tradition.
Having said that, the people in their marketing department haven’t exactly been slouches either. Their first slogan boldly proclaimed theirs to be “The best shoes anybody can buy.”
In the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, the company ran their “handsome lifestyle” advertisements in popular, high-profile magazines. The illustrated, text-rich ads depicted situations in which a man might want or need a pair of stylish shoes. Consumers didn’t just buy into the vision of an idealized lifestyle; they bought into the brand identity. Most importantly, they bought the shoes.
And finally, there are the Presidents’ shoes. Since 1850, the company has made a tradition of sending a pair of shoes or boots to every U.S. president. This practice has certainly one of their most cost-effective campaigns — and arguably been one of their most valuable marketing tools at that.
Not only does the “Shoes of the Presidents” title subliminally suggest an endorsement of the brand; it shows that the company itself has an enormous degree of confidence in their product. That what confidence has paid off. After all, what man wouldn’t want to wear the same shoes as a President of the United States? It’s like having a guarantee on the box. To further quote Tommy Boy, it “makes a man feel good.”
Styles, Lines & Prices
Most of their mainstream, ready-to-wear styles for men are priced between $140 and $300 per pair. Sale prices often bring some of those styles to just under $100.
Johnston & Murphy also has two higher-priced collections. First, there’s the Handcrafted in Italy line. These models will set you back about $300, and they are simply stunning. As you probably gathered from the name of this collection, these shoes are manufactured using some of the traditional techniques of legendary Italian shoemakers. The materials used are top-notch; the construction methods make for durable and stylish products; and the finishes are absolutely breathtaking.
The top of the line option, at least as far as Johnston & Murphy is concerned, is their Custom Select line. Priced at about $475 per pair, these dress styles also use European materials but they’re hand-selected, and then made into shoes in a workshop in Nashville, Tennessee.
They also have additional comfort features, and personalized cedar shoe trees and insoles. Your size and width details will be collected by a specialist after you’ve placed your order, and for me, this is where the real benefits lie. You can order extended sizes and widths, but you can also order two different sizes in the same pair. This is a fantastic option for men who have difficulty finding shoes to fit, or who have two very different feet.
Even though we’re living in an era where stylish, affordable, and even customized footwear is more prevalent than ever, Johnston & Murphy still manages to offer options that have seemingly eluded many of their competitors.
They offer traditional styles, as well as slightly trendier items, but they’re always tasteful. That makes choosing shoes from any of their collections a safe bet. Casual or dressy, these are the kind of shoes that make a great first impression.
But the fact that they’re attractive is only part of the reason I’m a fan of the Johnston & Murphy label. I also think that, for what you’re getting, the prices are very reasonable.
If you don’t have special sizing considerations or money to burn, I’d recommend their ready-to-wear collections over the pricier Custom Select options. My personal favorites are styles from the Handcrafted in Italy line, and I believe that if you can afford them, you won’t regret the purchase.
However, based on glowing customer reviews; personal feedback I’ve received; and the company’s historical reputation; I honestly believe that if you get the size right, you’ll be happy in any pair of Johnston & Murphy shoes.
Johnston & Murphy
1415 Murfreesboro Road, Suite 190
Nashville, TN 37217
Official Site: JohnstonMurphy.com
- U.S. & Canada: (800) 424-2854
- Other Countries: (615) 367-7168
- Email: JMDirect@genesco.com
- Web: Contact Johnston & Murphy
- Hours: Monday – Friday, 7:00 AM – 7:00 PM CST
Where to Buy:
Johnston & Murphy products can be purchased at their official site, through their catalog, or at one of their many retail locations throughout the U.S. and Canada. You’ll also be able to find them at most major department stores and online shoe retailers like Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Zappos.com.
If you’re shopping for a bargain, you may want to check out my list of Johnston & Murphy Outlet Stores.
Note for International Customers: You may be able to find Johnston & Murphy products at a local retailer, but your best bet is to check the official site first. They ship to more than 90 countries, and they also have a list of contacts and authorized retailers located around the world.
Johnston & Murphy Shoes for Men – Sophisticated, Quality Footwear
Johnston & Murphy History:
Johnston & Murphy has been making great men’s shoes since 1850. It was founded in Newark, New Jersey by immigrant William J. Dudley who could cobble one heck of a shoe. As demand grew for his work his shop grew and grew until Johnston & Murphy was a household name in men’s shoes. The brand has continued to grow and was bought in the 50’s by The General Shoe Corporation. From there they expanded, growing from being just a dress shoe company to producing a more casual shoe line as well.
In 1998, Johnston & Murphy opened a flagship store on the corner of Madison and 54th Street in New York City to showcase all the strengths of the brand. Johnston & Murphy has continued to look for new ways to appeal to successful, affluent professional men.
J & M is proud to be the “shoes of presidents” having made a pair of shoes for every president since its doors were first opened in 1850. President Obama was presented with a gorgeous pair of black cap-toe oxfords … size 12.
Johnstong & Murphy Shoes:
Johnston & Murphy absolutely thrive at putting out quality shoes for professionals at many different price points that can attract men at different stages in their life. While their dress shoes reach several hundred dollars, their casual oxfords and entry-level dress shoe have an attractive price point without sacrificing that amazing Johnston & Murphy quality and style.