Company That Make President’s Shoes

Everything about being a president is special. You get to travel in special vehicles with people who are responsible for your security 24/7. In addition to that, you get a personal tailor who designs and creates your suits for everyday meetings and public interactions. But there is something about shoes that has almost every president stuck with the same brand/company. Even Abraham Lincoln used to wear shoes made especially by this brand called Johnston & Murphy. Today, it stands as a shoemaker that proudly boasts of its creations and specially tailored shoes for the presidents until now. Let us take a deeper look at the company, see how it all started and where it stands today.

About The Company

Based in America Johnston & Murphy is a clothing and footwear company owned by Genesco as a subsidiary. The company specializes in designing, sourcing, marketing, and distributing apparel, footwear, luggage, and leather goods. Furthermore, Johnston & Murphy is divided into two operating divisions: Wholesale and Retail operations.

The retail division sells Johnston & Murphy branded products to customers based in the United States as well as other 92 foreign countries via its official website. Furthermore, it also owns 168 retail shops in airports and malls in addition to company-owned factory outlets in outlet malls as well. On the other hand, the wholesale division helps distribute the products to over 2100 departmental stores and independent specialty shops located in the United States and 15 other foreign countries.


Johnston & Murphy was founded by William J. Dudley in 1850. Initially, it was called the William J. Dudley Shoe Company. Going back in time, Dudley was a master craftsman and an immigrant who underwent school to learn traditional shoemaking. At the time, the William J.Dudley Shoe Company specialized in making high quality and durable work shoes for women, men, and children. The company was so successful that during its initial 25 years, it had to move five times to larger locations to accommodate the ever-increasing demand. As stated by William Starr Myers, the factory was originally located near Lawrence Street in a 3 story structure.

Then, the year 1880 saw Newark based businessman James Johnston joining the company as a partner. It was Johnston who presented the idea of expanding the product lines along with the channels of distribution. Since the company already specialized in producing amazingly durable footwear, it used that as an advantage to introduce higher-fashion footwear. As a result, the shoes along with the company itself became tremendously popular.

Then, in 1881 founder William Dudley passed away and Johnston took charge of the company by changing its name. The James Johnston Company. However, in 1887 a Manufacturing Journal Published stated that W.H. Dudley was succeeded by James Johnston in 1897. The year 1882 saw another prominent Newark Businessman William A. Murphy being intrigued and interested in the success of the company. Murphy belonged to a distinguished family background and successfully managed to become a partner with the company.

Now the company was called Johnston & Murphy. By 1887, Johnston and Murphy were producing around 2000 pairs of shoes and slippers in a factory that featured seven stories, 250 operators, and equipment that used steam for operations, if you were wondering how are President’s shoes made. As success was destined, the firm soon got its hands on a newly built factory. In 1925, the company would undergo expansions twice to become double its original size.

Then in 1895, Murphy ended his partnership by selling his shares to Herbert P. Gleason, who was a former top salesman of the company. Since he was an established salesman of the company, Gleason knew the importance and value of the established brand, so he decided to keep the name as it is. Furthermore, he set on to establish a marketing and national sales force. This was a huge step in the history of the company as it would take the company beyond the borders instead of only producing and creating products for the local customers. It would not be long until James Johnson breathed his last in 1903. It was Gleason’s son George Gleason who coined the first slogan “The Best Shoes anybody can buy” in the 1920s. He initiated and launched “handsome lifestyle” advertisements and ran campaigns as well in high-profile magazines such as The Saturday Evening Post and Vanity Fair.

Finally, Genesco purchased Johnston & Murphy in 1951. It closed the Johnston & Murphy in Newark and moved to Nashville. In 1971, Johnston & Murphy opened its first retail shop in Illinois and expanded its reach to departmental stores and specialty shops.

Johnston & Murphy Today

Johnston & Murphy launched its official website in 1996. In 1998, the company welcomed its first flagship store in New York City and began signing licensing agreements for hosiery, belts, leather outerwear, shoe care products, and small leather goods collection. The company today has expanded to men’s line including luggage and business cases.

Then in the fall of 2008, the company introduced a new women’s line of footwear, accessories, leather goods, and outerwear. The retail division of the company operates 160 stores owned by the company and sells products via direct-mail catalogs and the company’s website. However, the company’s branded products are manufactured by third-party contractors.

Apart from all the presidents shoes, it makes, in November 2010, the company released a fresh line of comfort shoes for men called the XC4 collection. Known as a company who make President’s shoes, Johnston & Murphy held their online Ultimate Comfort Test to ask customers about their most uncomfortable moments.

The Company In a Nutshell

Back in the day, there were not many President’s Shoes companies that were as famous and popular as William Dudley and his company, Johnston & Murphy. If it was not for the opportunity to create a pair of shoes for Millard Fillmore, the 13th president of America, the company might not have been this successful today. Amongst the companies that make President’s shoes, Johnston & Murphy stands out due to a rich history of creating specially tailored shoes to cater to the needs of special individuals such as Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagen, etc.

Final Word

Shoes are one of the most important part of your everyday getup. Matching the right pair of shoes is a tricky job and many find it hard to pull off properly. However, when it comes to a President, things have to be accurate and top-notch at the highest level. While presidents spend most of their day attending meetings and conferences, their attires should be sharp especially the shoes. This is what Johnston & Murphy has successfully specialized in over the years to become the top choice of almost every president.