An article on men's clothing published in 1940 noted, "Here I feel that I should mention some places for men's clothing before the family budget runs out altogether. First should be mentioned Brooks Brothers, at 346 Madison Avenue (at 44th Street), one of the oldest firms in the city. You will find nothing cheap in this store, but neither will you find anything but the very best. The same is true of F. R. Tripler and Co. at 366 Madison Avenue (46th Street), and of Finchley at 566 Fifth Avenue (near 46th Street). There are a few smart and expensive men's shops in the Rockefeller Center neighborhood. For more moderate prices, try the various stores of Rogers Peet Co., of Broadstreet's, of John David, and of Weber and Heilbroner. Frankly on the cheap side are Crawford Clothes and Bond Clothing Stores. And Barney's Clothes, I 11 Seventh Avenue (at 17th Street), is becoming a New York institution with the men who have to dress well for little money."
Unfortunately, most of these shops are no longer with us - of the companies mentioned, Brooks Brothers and Barneys are still going strong. I first the heard the name F.R. Tripler & Co. when I came across a vintage pair of black and white spectators made for Johnston & Murphy's Aristocraft line. Although the J&M and F. R. Tripler & Co. stamps on the insoles appeared to date these shoes to circa 1960s or 1970s, I was struck by the craftsmanship on display, and by how well the shoes have held up over time. J&M's Handmades 100s generally get all the hype (from me, anyway), but the J&M Aristocraft line was not exactly a slouch back in the day.
The J&M Aristocraft and F.R. Tripler & Co. In-Sole Stamps
While I like my spectators with some suede, this pair is made of black and white calf. Nevertheless, the stitching has held up and the broguing is exquisite. I'm not entirely sure what the laces are made of, but if I had to guess, they feel like nylon.
As with the Handmade 100s, the soles of the J&M Aristocrafts is where the shoes really stand out. While not as pronounced as the Handmade 100s, the shoes have a bit of the spade or shovel-sole effect. The waist is actually quite bevelled and the soles are channeled. Needless to say, I don't believe J&M are making shoes today to such a high standard in the United States (or any of their off-shore production facilities); although, in this case, I would love to be proved wrong.
Unfortunately, F.R. Tripler is no longer at 46th and Madison. However, if these shoes are any indication, the company was indeed a purveyor of quality American footwear to the discerning gentlemen of New York City.