Review: Alden Seats

Alden Seats

It’s been just over a year since we featured Carson Leh’s Deluxe TECH2 BMX and its leather upholstered saddle that so excited the bicycle blogosphere. Carson is a multi-talented designer who has applied his appreciation of traditional style to furniture and industrial design, sustainability consulting, photography and, finally, traditional shoemaking and custom leather saddlery.

Alden Seats

Shoemaking is a skill less-oft heard of nowadays, despite a popular resurgence of interest in traditional crafts, and Carson has combined his cordwaining skills with his love for BMX riding to produce the brogued saddle installed on his Deluxe TECH2. That saddle created so much interest, from all genres of cycling—road, cyclocross, MTB as well as BMX—that he implemented a Kickstarter project to enable a short production run of similarly-styled saddles, under the banner of Alden Seats.

Carson’s aim is to produce a hard-working saddle created with leather from the USA’s most environmentally friendly tanneries, built tough to withstand the rigors of life on (and off) the road, with a style that wouldn’t be uncomfortable inside the most exclusive gentleman’s club or boardroom. There will initially be three seat shapes, with four leather colors and nine distinct designs. Styles will include a retro road and track seat, a Dutch style comfort seat and a slim pivotal-style BMX and MTB seat.

Alden Seats
Alden Seats
Alden Seats

Alden Seats needs to raise $5,700 on Kickstarter in just 12 days time to actualize the project. As an incentive to pledge your support, Carson has a range of gifts to reward your donation, such as limited edition seats, shirts and posters. Most notably, if you can donate $100, you’ll receive $100 dollars towards a saddle from the first production run. This basically means you pre-purchase a seat with free shipping anywhere in the world. Check out the Kickstarter project page here, and watch the video of Carson and his leather saddlery below. Hopefully every boutique cyclery around the world will be inspired to carry one of Carson’s saddles and pledge a donation.

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  • http://spinynorman.tumblr.com Spiny Norman

    They look exactly like the sorts of shoes that Spiny Norman would never, ever wear because they are hideous. 

  • Billy

    I understand where his inspiration comes from, but I don’t understand why he’s branding it as Alden. Alden is one of the oldest dress shoe makers in the country that makes the shoes with the patterns he’s pulling inspiration from- it’d be like someone making a denim covered saddle and naming it Levis Seats. Might be a big issue for him if that takes off. 

    • Carsonleh

      my full name is Carson ALDEN Leh…

      • Billy

        That’s cool, I respect that for sure. It’s just a terrible branding strategy because you’re entering the market on the coat tails of one of the biggest shoe makers in the country with the same name and an identical aesthetic- you’re going to work harder differentiating yourself from them than you would introducing yourself as a brand new company with a unique name. 

         If you stick with it, I would make sure to put a mention of your middle name somewhere and also make sure people know you’re not affiliated with Alden. I’m sure you could see how that might be an issue to them. 

        • Carsonleh

          I agree with you that there is cross over and it could be a problem I’ve had a quite a few people bring this up.  I’m actually encouraged that enough commenters and people who have donated have asked this and knew of Alden’s Shoes existence. Makes me more confident there are enough people interested in the style of both the shoes and my seats, to do this production run.  I decided to use my middle name literally 2 days before the Kickstarter project. I wanted to use my last name but after 24 years of hearing people butcher its pronunciation I would rather not start a company and hear people saying “Leeeigghhhgggg”.  It’s not set in stone yet so what ever happens It will probably emerge as something with a slightly different name. There’s no changing the Kickstarter once it’s live.

  • Carson

    I agree with you that there is cross over and it could be a problem I’ve had a quite a few people bring this up.  I’m actually encouraged that enough commenters and people who have donated have asked this and knew of Alden’s Shoes existence. Makes me more confident there are enough people interested in the style of both the shoes and my seats, to do this production run.  I decided to use my middle name literally 2 days before the Kickstarter project. I wanted to use my last name but after 24 years of hearing people butcher its pronunciation I would rather not start a company and hear people saying “Leeeigghhhgggg”.  It’s not set in stone yet so what ever happens It will probably emerge as something with a slightly different name. There’s no changing the Kickstarter once it’s live.     

  • Albie

    This whole push of “fancy” leather BMX saddles has me a little baffled, but the more power to you.

    • Carson

      I don’t expect the bmx ones will be sellers as the Dutch & Road saddles when they go to production.  I ride BMX though, and I want to make them available to those who do.