All-American Footwear: Recapturing the Sole of the Brand

In 2008, Allen Edmonds was an American brand known for its quality footwear — but it was also on the verge of bankruptcy, with operating profit down 90 percent in the last couple of years. Several years prior, the company had started designing its shoes to look more European and manufacturing them abroad, which led to confusion about how to position the product; in order to increase sales, the company needed to focus its brand identity.

Senior leaders investigated multiple markets to learn why previous customers no longer wore Allen Edmonds. They discovered that they needed to tweak the brand with a modern and casual approach, as well as recapture its reputation as classic American footwear. The company changed its approach to the design of the shoes and stores, as well as moved manufacturing back to the U.S., emphasizing the message that product was made in the USA.

Read more about how understanding the marketplace doubled the company’s revenue in Darden Professor Kimberly A. Whitler’s article “By Walking in Competitors’ Shoes, a Company Saw What Its Customers Want,” in the Darden School of Business/Washington Post “Case in Point” series, and her interview with the senior leader who drove the turnaround in “CEO Paul Grangaard on the Allen Edmonds Turnaround: A Great American Comeback Story,” on

About the Faculty

Kimberly A. Whitler

Whitler is an authority on marketing, with expertise in marketing strategy, brand management, and marketing performance. Her research centers on understanding how a firm’s marketing performance is affected by its C-suite and board.

A prolific writer as well as researcher, Whitler has authored nearly 100 articles related to C-level marketing management challenges... Learn More