Johnston & Murphy shoes are great for some men, but they’re not for everyone.
There are pros and cons to every brand, especially for short men. Here are my thoughts on the wildly popular shoe brand, Johnston & Murphy.
When you’re trying to decide which shoes to buy, you have to consider the following:
- Price/quality (closely related)
Let’s take a look at each of these…
Johnston & Murphy makes plenty of shoes below $200, as well as many models that sell for anywhere between $250 and $400. This is definitely an investment for most men, but you usually get what you pay for when it comes to footwear.
More expensive shoes will typically last longer than cheap dress shoes. Johnston & Murphy shoes are definitely not cheap, low quality shoes. But they’re not as high end as, say, Allen Edmonds or Alden.
That said, if you can’t afford $400+ shoes, Johnston & Murphy is a great option.
I found the Melton Oxfords to be very comfortable right out of the box. They’re a bit wider than my Allen Edmond Park Avenues, and they have a taller instep, which is perfect for my feet.
Comfort doesn’t really have anything to do with price or quality. Different brands use slightly different shapes. You’ll probably find that certain brands feel much better on your feet than others. Find one that works for you and stick with it!
If you have a wide foot and your feet are often sore after a long day at the office, you might want to try Johnston & Murphy.
This company makes shoes down to size 6 (US). They don’t have every model in stock at these smaller sizes, but at least they make small shoes (many companies stop at size 8).
I found that these shoes tend to run big, compared to other brands like Allen Edmonds and Cole Haan, so you may want to size down a half size.
If you wear smaller than a 6, you’ll have to look elsewhere.
J&M is an old American company, and their style reflects these roots. They make classic shoes – loafers, Oxfords, ankle boots and boat shoes. And they come in classic colors like brown, black, burgundy and tan.
If you prefer shoes that are more “on trend” and fashion forward, Johnston & Murphy probably isn’t for you. Personally, I like the classic, timeless look because it will never go out of style.
Choosing the right shoes is a personal decision. If you like the traditional aesthetic of Johnston & Murphy, and they fall within your budget, you should definitely check them out.
Just make sure to try them on and see if they’re comfortable before committing (they have free returns, so wear them around the house for a few hours to test them out).
Do you like Johnston & Murphy shoes? Let me know down in the comments!
In 2023 J&M is too hipster for my tastes. Few of its shoes are not trendy.
24-2604 men’s 10m F18 made in Italy what are they worth
My father wore Johnston & Murphy business shoes in shell cordovan. He used wood shoe trees and took good care of them and they would last and look great for many years, even decades as the leather soles were replaced several times on each. I followed in his footsteps with J&M, but even 30 years ago the cordovan had already become prohibitively expensive, and I don’t think they’ve offered it for years. I wore and still wear the leather-lined calfskin models that they still sell and currently retail for $279, but often can be found on sale for much less, even under $200 (right now J&M has them on sales for $179). They are comfortable and wear well enough if you take care of them. However, calfskin is not in the same league as cordovan for strength and durability. The difference is shoes lasting 10 years v. shoes lasting 30.
Even though the quality of J&M shoes may have slipped somewhat as they stopped making them in Tennessee, moved production to Mexico, and then overseas, I can’t see spending vastly higher prices for dress shoes unless they are cordovan. Allen Edmonds cordovan dress shoes retail at $695, on sale right now for $590. So you can pay about 3 1/4-3 1/2 times more for shoes that last three times longer. That is the bottom line.
Rafael H Jimenez says
I purchased a pair for 160.00 in the 90’s and that was quite expensive at the time. I still have them and they are as good as new. Very confortable.
Glen Parks says
I have a question…if JM are not considered as high end as AE or Alden…why do US Presidents have worn and still wear them? There is literally a “Presidential Collection.”
That being said…JM has been in my family for many years. I simply love them. They are the brand I own the most…and I have shoes. I also love their Italian Collection and their Signature Collection. I also own Cole Haan and AE…JM are much better. And they seemingly lasts forever while maintaining their look and style. “And that’s all I have to say about that..,”
Gary Kott says
I personally have had great experiences with J&M. I have two pairs of boots which are about 5 years old still good as new. I used two pairs of the Carriker cap toe oxfords one black one brown, that are 3 years old and still going strong. In fact I just picked up another pair this week along with one of the Aristocraft line. The Aristocraft is much higher quality, full grain leather with a good year welt etc. I guess it depends on what you are comparing to J&M and which line you compare. A 150 dollar J&M will not hold a candle to a 400 dollar Allen Edmonds The Arisrocraft line could and a much lower price point, but even at that level the AE’s will have better attention to detail.
FWIW, J&M do provide good value for anyones budget. I have been lucky enough not to have a single issue and will continue to purchase them. My 150 dollar shoes were what I expected and my 300 dollar shoes were much higher quality as you would expect. My next investment will be AE, and I do expect the quality on those to be above my Aristocraft in the finer details. It’s all perspective. If a man has never worn a 500 dollar plus quality crafted shoe, then how could they possibly compare it.
The original review spoke nothing of the leather quality, welt construction or even the fact the Melton shoe is mid level The same shoe is offered in the Aristocraft line with full grain leather and a good year welt and dramatically better made than the corrected leather Melton.
Graham McNeil says
I have worn Johnston and Murphy shoes for around 40 years. I have other brands as well, but I always return to the J&M. I must have purchased over 150 pairs over the years. Some styles are more resilient than others but overall they are above average in all areas. Over the years they have changed some. Quality has varied some and more imports have entered the lineup. The higher end of the brand compares to most other expensive shoes. The Aristocrat line is high quality and timeless.
I’m a shoe guy. I love new shoes and different styles. Casual seems to be the current trend. J&M keeps current but not trendy. More sensible I think these shoes are not for everyone, if you don’t take care of your shoes buy less expensive brands and discard when needed. A good fitting shoe is like heaven for the feet. You will know if these are for you. For me, they are excellent footwear and highly regarded and recommended.
Johnston & Murphy shoes have gone into the toilet. I bought my first pair in the San Francisco shop back in 1999. I have continued to buy J&M since, but of late have found the quality to sink south of many other shoe brands. Two examples. I ordered a pair of saddle shoes online. I have always fit right into a J&M 9 /12 D. I could not even get my feet into the saddles and when I inspected the stitching it was really poor. Returned them. Then I bought a pair of the black and brown Aragon II Kiltie Tassels in a store. Come to find out, the trim at the top of the “tongue” of the loafer is not made of leather, it is made of that plastic on cloth crap that wears off almost immediately.
I have switched to Allen Edmonds. At least they are making an attempt to make quality shoes, unlike J&M these days. Did someone buy out J&M and go for high profits on the back of a reputation and low cost production? That won’t last.
I have had my J&M&s for 9 years and love them. Yes generally too big (i need size 8.5 but have ti settle with 9)but can get away with it for a day. HOWEVER, I only get two wears and the heals separate. Hovering around now from meeting to meeting till I can get to show repair
Peter Kiviat says
Currently the production of the shoe uppers are made in the Dominican Republic due to lack of shoe sewers in the United States. The uppers are imported to the factories in Lewiston, ME and Port Washington, WI where they are assembled with other shoe parts, thus allowing them to be considered “Made in the USA.”
Allen Edmunds was sold to the Brown Shoe Company. It’s one of about thirty brands they own.
Seppi Luthold says
I do appreciate your reply. It is however good to always check to see if they have all the facts. This info has been on Wikepedia for some time and is somewhat misleading. Here is the situation according to there CEO. I quote:
Thanks for your feedback. We do indeed have duplicative capabilities at the beginning of the shoemaking process in Wisconsin and, since 2006, in the Dominican Republic. Both plants are 100% owned and managed closely by us, staffed by our employees. If you watch our YouTube Plant Tour video (available on our website home page), the part of the Goodyear welt process that’s also done in the DR is the cutting of the upper leathers, sewing of those pieces together and “hanging” of the lining. The resulting work-in-process looks like a flattened baseball cap with a large hole in the top and no sewn seams around the brim or the bottom of the cap.
The lining and the unfinished upper are attached together and to the bottom of the shoe in the lasting and welting processes, which are all done in Wisconsin. The footbed (inside bottom) leather cutting and the welt taping for the sides and bottoms of the shoes are done 100% in Port Washington, as is the rest of the production process — the shaping of the loose uppers in preparation for lasting, insertion of toeboxes and heel counters, lasting, attaching the footbed, welting, hot corking, sewing on the sole, nailing and gluing on the heel base, attaching the heel “toplift”, trimming all the edges, wheeling, cutting, trimming and attaching the sock liner (when used), and all the stages of finishing. How the duplicated work on the uppers gets distributed between the two plants depends on order flows from week to week.
The increase in demand for our shoes has led us to hire more people in both plants on all functions, which is good for both local economies. We’re proud to be building economic vitality in two places that need it in the Western Hemisphere, one right here in Wisconsin and one a few hundred miles off the shore of Florida. History buffs might see this as our micro version of the Monroe Doctrine or maybe a localized DR Marshall Plan.
This formula works for us and for our U.S. employment growth, which is where the majority of our new hires are. Keeping our prices lower than any other fully Goodyear welted shoe manufacturer is an important part of our AE value proposition. It also allows us to spread workload effectively between the two locations so that we keep our delivery times as short as possible, a couple of days in many instances. Delivery to major wholesale accounts with that kind of flexibility is a major competitive advantage versus the Asian shoe importers who send shoes by ocean vessel in containerloads. Keeping our prices under control keeps us accessible for more and more customers with family budgets.
Thanks for the question and the interest. I hope the hundreds (and growing) of people we have in our Port Washington facitilities will continue to have your support.
Last edited: Oct 23, 2011
So much more is done in the USA then what the over simplified quote from Wikepedia mentions. Indeed they have continued to grow the port washington factory.
Peter Kiviat says
Seppi–That was six years ago, and since, more production has been moved overseas and the Maine factory has been closed. Although, they have introduced many lower quality mass market lines, For now, any drop in quality of the classic Goodyear Welt lines is indiscernible. The real problem, is that Allen Edmonds is now just one more label owned by Brown Shoe, and at any time they can cut costs to squeeze the profits, or retire the brand as they have with others. What makes AE particularly at risk, is their strategy for continuing and expanding the brand, was to make it a high mid price shoe featured in department stores, i.e. Macy’s, etc. Only trouble with that is thecontracting future of those outlets. There may not be enough brand recognition yet, with younger buyers to exist as a mail order brand.
Seppi Luthold says
I don’t know what ax you have to grind with Allen Edmonds. However, they make at least some of there shoes on Lake Michigan in Port Washington, Wisconsin. I don’t know where you are getting Maine from. They are a Wisconsin company. Are you confusing them with Frye?
In addition I see no facts or articles you are presenting besides Wikepedia which is notorious for not always having the facts. Am I happy they may be doing some work on DR. No. However the facts need to be stated.
About a year or so ago they were bought by Caleres. I once again Don’t know where you are getting Brown from.
Stop trying to discredit this brand just to defend Johnston and Murphy.
Peter Kiviat says
They were purchased by Brown six or seven years ago. Last year Brown changed it’s name to Caleres.
Seppi Luthold says
Seriously do a Google search. They were bought by Brentwood associates, a private equity firm, in 2013. They were then bought by calares-Brown less then a year ago in December of 2016. The out sourcing of some construction to the DR really has nothing to do with that. As it started possibly when they closed there Maine factory location in I believe 2006, but I could be wrong. However the main factory and original is in Wisconsin and still builds shoes etc today.
This doesn’t change the fact that much of there shoe work is still done in the United States. While it’s concerning to see them out sourcing it seems that at least on there classic lines, Parek avenue, strand etc. most of shoe is made in the USA. Though we will never entirely know for sure.
This is a far cry from your original claim.
Seppi Luthold says
I’m sorry to disagree with the reviewer and many here but Johnston and Murphy are a mere ghost of the proud made in the U.S.A company they used to be. The shoe quality is not worth the price. Allen Edmonds has sales all the time that bring many styles down to about 250. They just can not be beat in regards to price and quality. Now if you can pick up some new old stock Johnston amd Murphy on EBay. those are great shoes.
Joseph Teifer says
I own 6 pairs of the Aristocrat shoes. The shoes run true to size and width. They take a great shine. These shoes cost about $275. The company has 3 levels of service to repair the shoes. For about 1/2 the cost of a new shoe they will replace the heel and soles and refurbish the uppers. This is outstanding long term product support. The shoes were ‘out of the box’ comfortable.
guy davidson says
i find them extremely comfortable and to me they are some of my favorites.
Jeramey Bouillon says
DO NOT BUY THESE SHOES!!! I was extremely disappointed to say the least. What a cheap quality shoe for the price. I got ripped off.
I went into Men’s Wearhouse to buy a couple new suits for a job interview. I figured while I was there, I would pick up some shoes to go with my new suits. The salesmen swore J. Murphy shoes were the best and would be a great addition.
I made it through 2 of my job interviews andnthe shoes were great. My 3rd interview was a working interview. By the end of the day, the leather part of my shoe had come un-glued from the sole and I had to go home because I was too embarrassed to finish yhe day with my sock poking out the side. Are you kidding!???
I spent $149 before tax on these shoes and they wouldn’t last 1 work day??! What a complete rip off. Please do not get fooled like I did. I have bought shoes from TJ Max and Ross that have lasted me 6 months or longer and only cost $25. I feel like going back to Men’s wearhouse and getting my money back. I won’t though. I will actually never go back to men’s wearhouse because they recommend $149 shoes that fall apart after 3 uses. Such a joke. I feel so taken advantage of right now. J.Murphy company 8s probably laughing at anyone who buys their shoes…. all the way to the bank, while us suckers who buy their shoes are out money because they charge $125 too much for their product. Please please please, don’t let J. Murphy fool you with their false promises and lies. Sooo mad right now!
Thomas C says
Not sure what happened but I’ve had wingtips that lasted 12+ years and had resolved twice. Have 2 pair of boots that have been worn 15 years and yet another I’ve had five. Leather on all has been nearly indestructable, however, I care for my footwear since ones feet can cause pain all over your body, making you miserable.
Anthony S. says
When you say the shoes run large and you should size down by 1/2 a step do you mean: 1 ) half size down from your normal shoe size or 2) 1/2 size down from your normal dress shoe size? In regular sneakers I usually wear an 8 1/2, but in dress shoes I typically wear an 8. So I’m wondering if I should buy a size 8 or 7 1/2 in Johnston & Murphy’s? Thanks if anyone answers this.
Purchased 300.00 pair of boots. Great Style.
Then, rubber sole at front started to come apart.
Brought into my shoe guy only to find out the wooden piece was actual compressed cardboard. Not shopping there again.
Chris K says
Cardboard? Not corkboard? I am not disputing you, just surprised . . . and wondering a bit if the wrong word may have been used.
Arthur Williamson says
The difference between J&M and as Allen Edmonds or Alden is the way in which the shoes are made. J&M makes shoes or everyone, meaning they make a “Last” in which they hope will accommodate most people feet profile. Whereas Allen Edmond and other higher end shoe makers will make a “Last” for a specific foot characteristics or profile. This the defining factor as to why Allen Edmond it’s far superior than Johnston & Murphy, Bostonian and other low to mid-level shoes.
I owned the shoes that were shown in the review and can say that they were very cheap and poorly put together. The calf skin held almost no shine and ( and I use Sapphire shoe polish and wax) the welt was not in the channels in the sole of the shoe. I gave them away for free and will never buy a pair of J&M again. As my understanding of shoes construction has expended I have know move on to other well made shoes like Edward Green, John Lobb, Peal & Co, and Crockett and Jones but, still wear my AE and Alden shoes with pride.
Your statement about “lasts” is ridiculous. What “specific profile” does A&E and others design for? Duck feet? They want to fit all many feet as J&M. A difference maybe the quality of leather. Also, J&M has a higher price line.
LaMarr Clemons says
I am no shoe expert; I visited the AE website, and found a section which refers to several last formats, each with a different number, obviously for variations in feet. Some feet have high arches, and some not; some heels are wider than normal,some not. Some shoes are made in fewer last formats than others. It would appear that visiting an AE store to find which last feels best for you would give a more harmonious outcome when selecting a shoe.
LUIS BORUNDA says
just bought my first pair after a week of looking around. I usually buy casual dress shoes but I wanted to step it up a notch. I bought the black Melton’s because I liked the classic look. You are right regarding the cut of the shoe being slightly larger. I wear a 10 in other shoes but the 9.5 fit better. I am surprised how comfortable they are right out of the box and they aren’t even broken in yet.
I love my J&M Conard Wings! Comfy and very well made. Sure they’re made in China, but after a year, they’ve held up very well. I purchased a pair of A&E Strandmoks this year, great looking, but back twice for various defects.
Chris K says
#1: Not all J&M’s are made in China . . . depends on what line one buys. They have some made in Italy! Others in Brazil! etc. . .
#2: Not all Allen Edmunds and by extension A&E shoes are made in the USA (unfortunately?). Some are made in China (again, depending on which lines one buys) and others made in Italy. I have some Allen Edmunds made in the USA and also a pair of loafers made in Italy. My experience with the Italian pair I have is that the heal wore out more quickly than they do on the USA made versions. But that could very well be unrelated to the country of mfg. and more about how I wear the different shoes and where. I like Allen Edmunds . . . to me, they are the perfect college graduation gift for a son (or male) for starting their career.
Seppi Luthold says
No Allen Edmond line that I know of is made in China or Italy. All of the shoes are made in the United States.
Peter Kiviat says
Actually no Allen Edmonds are made in the USA Anymore. They closed their Maine factory years ago. The uppers are made in Dominica, and then shipped to the old Buster Brown factory in Wisconsin where they are welted to the bottoms. This allows them to say “made in USA”.
Seppi Luthold says
Do you have any sources to support that claim? You are saying that the uppers are made in the DR. What is your source for this? Thanks.
Sean B. says
Dominica not Dominican Republic
I find most comments ( Johnson and Murphy ) are not based on quality, but mostly on price and brand power.
Five days ago I purchased dress boots from J and M, but today I had to return them. Cheaply made leather sole without wax protection are not good for walking from the train to the office, unless the road is carpeted. 350 dollars badly spent. Wrong investment. Please ask always if the leather sole is waxed or fortified for early scuffs.
You are an idiot, bro. There is no such thing as a leather sole that is waxed. Wtf are you talking about? Leather soles either are full leather that are either stitched with a goodyear welt or glued. And some have rubber injections or leather veneers with rubber mix soles. Know the facts and know leather shoes before you post dumbass comments especially about a brand like johnston & murphy which is a 165 year old company!
Chris K says
Sorry Markus . . . there are more than just Goodyear welted and glued as options for shoe soles. Blake stitching for one, or if one prefers, rapid blake as well. And others to boot (pun intended). So, for somebody who seems to try to convey that they are an expert in a field, your comment shows only that you are not one. Perhaps a kinder approach would be in order???
Perhaps the poster (above your post) really meant was something more like Alden’s “double water lock oiled” leather soles . . . but I really don’t know.
Timothy Parker says
What can I say…I’m a man of style, and I mean the classic style…The line of Johnston&Murphy shoes are timeless pure perfection..Not only do I feel great when I have a pair on, I also often get compliments on my shoes..I own 15 pair, only other shoes in my collection are Allen Edmonds and Colehaan…..If you are well dressed man, and dont own a least 2 pair of Johnston&Murphy shoes, you might not be so well dressed….Smile!!!
My latest Purchase was on 09/19/2015- Johnston & Murphy Conard Double Monk Strap !
What pants are you wearing in the top picture? I love them!
J. Crew Factory wool trousers (hemmed, of course).
Terry Hill says
I have worn J&Ms for years. I noticed that you pictured the mid-priced Optima. I have had one pair of Optimas at @ $200 and they were good, but I have had many pair of the $275 Artistocrats which are much better and the equal of any Allen Edmunds that I have had. Tip: order them through a J&M outlet store and you may get them for nearly $200. I often refurb mine 3 or 4 times.
I’m quite fond of Johnston & Murphy. I picked up my first pair of dress shoes two years ago, a pair J Murphy by Johnston & Murphy, and have become surprised by the durability. Shoe trees, regular care and polish go a long, long way.
I have two pairs of their Copeland Chukkas as well. I think they make a great shoe for what you pay.
I receive donations of preowned-clothing in order to suit up low income men & women for their interviews. We get very excited when J & M shoes arrive because even previously worn J &M shoes usually still have a lot of wear left in them and are very comfy. Polished up they are as good as new. Most of our clients are familiar with the brand and walk taller in them.
Michael H. James says
Really great review Brock. I knew Johnston and Murphy has been around around forever. Nice to see they have new, stylish products that really aren’t too overpriced. I’ve seen plenty of their shoes in boards rooms and they stand out. Might have to pull the trigger and order a pair now. Thanks!
Annie Kip says
Good to know your experience of J & M shoes, Brock – thanks! My custom menswear clients often ask me about shoes. We do not sell shoes, so I am always looking for good recommendations. I have often suggested Allen Edmonds, specifically because their shoes come in a very wide range of widths and sizes. I also suggest that my clients use Zappos (free shipping and returns) – so they can order many pairs from a variety of companies to try on at their convenience.
Bil Whitley says
I love my Johnston&Murphy shoes. I have at least 5 pair. They do tend to run big but luckily they do make a 7 1/2 as I usually wear an 8. The best part is their refurbishment program. They will totally restore your shoes to as close as original as possible for about half the cost of a new pair. They are a classic shoe that will never go out of style. Well worth the initial investment.