How Matt Gray Assembled Perhaps The World’s Finest Collection of Alden Rare Shell Cordovan Boots

Today, Matt Gray just may have the most impressive collection of Alden rare shell cordovan boots of anyone in the world. But just over two years ago, he didn’t have any—and was barely into shoes at all.

“My wife got me my first pair of nice shoes, Allen Edmonds Strandmoks,” while Gray was managing an Audi dealership in North Carolina. “After that, it was four or five more pairs from their shoe bank. Then somehow on Styleforum I stumbled upon the Alden thread. In April of 2017, I got my first pair of Aldens. And then I kinda…I went a little crazy.”

Over the last 26 months, Gray went on a tear for the ages, collecting 81 pairs of shoes and boots total, including from such prestige makers as Edward Green, Carmina, Crockett & Jones, and Enzo Bonafé. But his passion, without question, is Alden.

I’m pushing 50 pair of Aldens, with 32 shell pair, and 16 rare shells.”

In a bit of benevolent service to the shoe-mad community around the world, those shell cordovan Aldens are prominently featured on Gray’s Instagram feed, on which he posts what his feet have the distinct pleasure of getting adorned with each day.

“I was never into Instagram. I never looked at Instagram, never followed it. But one day I just took a picture. And then I tried to take a picture every day. It’s goofy, but I have more fun on that thing than anything else. I get up in the morning, pick out my shoes. A lot of times I take a picture, and then go back inside, take the boots off, and put my pajamas on.”