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Johnston And Murphy Shoes - Johnston and Murphy Shoes: The American Gold Standard

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Johnston and Murphy Shoes, frequently referred to as simply J&M’s are the gold standard for American dress shoes. Operating for 160 years, J&M has made shoes for not only countless successful business executives, but also for every president since Millard Fillmore, who was elected in 1850.

The company started out in Newark, New Jersey as the William J. Dudley Shoe Company. Upon his death in 1881, his partner, James Johnston, renamed the company after himself. Soon thereafter in 1884, Johnston took on William A. Murphy as a partner and gave the company its current name. By the 1920’s, J&M had become a national brand selling “the best shoes anybody can buy.” They built their brand by co-branding with country clubs and by dispatching traveling salesmen to both those clubs and Ivy League academic institutions. Today as a subsidiary of Genesco, based in Nashville, they remain the icon of American style in shoes, and a fixture in boardrooms and country club lockers across the country.

Although many classic styles are available, Johnston and Murphy shoes have also become more modern. In the 1960’s and 1970’s, they began to offer more casual styles. Their line has expanded to include both athletic shoes and thong sandals. Both still have a traditional J&M feel and appearance, though. Aficionados of their shoes can now also purchase a range of apparel and other leather goods from Johnston & Murphy. They have even begun to offer women’s shoes.

Johnston & Murphy has recently attracted some unwanted attention and controversy due to changing manufacturing methods. Some of their shoes which are marketed as featuring Italian leather are now being made in India. For those customers who both expect and prefer domestic craftsmanship, this has placed a very small bit of tarnish on the J&M mystique.

Regardless of this small issue, Johnston and Murphy shoes have been worn by America’s elite for well over 100 years. Today, anyone can purchase the same shoes that have completed the outfits of such important men as Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, John Kennedy and Ronald Reagan.

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