07 December 2011
Probable Maximum Loss: Cole Haan
Esquire Gentleman Magazine, Spring / Summer 1993
Probable Maximum Loss or PML is an insurance term I always called the "Ka-Boom" factor. PML is a basic underwriting strategy where an insurance company figures it's total maximum loss in a building, location, region or... shoe maker.
Cole Haan started in Chicago in 1928 and were, by the time I knew them in the '80s, the classic shoe choice. Whether a simple calf tassel loafer (my first post college shoe) or their perfect correspondent in buck and tan calf -- Cole Haan was classic. You didn't wear tassel loafers -- you wore Cole Haan tassel loafers.
In 1993, Cole Haan introduced the venetian loafer you see in the advertisement above. It was a clean looking shoe made in their Maine factory. In 1988, Cole Haan was bought by Nike and shortly afterwards closed their Maine plant and moved all manufacture off shore. How odd that Cole Haan became, if not the first, one of the earliest shoe companies to embrace off shore while leaving pricing the same.
Today, pricing remains high for what you get but design has really suffered as seen here. The plastic injected shoe so commonly associated with Donald Pliner is seen across the Cole Haan line. This may have more to do with the small world of shoe design talent but I think it stems more from what Asian factories are comfortable making. Who knows. I don't pretend to know a lot about making shoes. I do understand Probable Maximum Loss. You know? Ka-Boom!