There are some things about Alden that are objectively better than AE, and some things that are subjective on both.
- In my opinion, the stitching on Aldens is objectively better. Higher stitches-per-inch, straighter lines, and the welt stitching is just a work of art. Seriously, if you hold Aldens next to a pair of AEs it's night and day.
- Leather lining-wise, Alden uses a much finer quality leather, but AEs is more durable. Alden's is a bit too delicate for my taste.
- Shell quality wise, well, that's tougher to compare. I like AEs burgundy much much more than Aldens. AE's patinas better and shoes more variations. Alden's is better if you want a darker shell and/or a more consistent shade. My AE's have all sorts of the horse's scars visible, and variations in the color. They also are an odd color if you don't love #8 for #8.
- Last wise, well, that's a toss up. The Barrie last is terrible if you have wide feet, because the heel is wayyyyy too wide (most people with wide feet have narrower heels). The toe of Alden long wings is nicer, but the heel of the MacNeils is better fitting.
- At the end of the day, I think it all depends on what you want. Custom AE MTO's at $500 easily trump Aldens at $650 *unless* you get exactly the Alden make-up you want. Remember, those great rare shades can take over a year in pre-order with Alden.
- We don't have "Uncle" MacArthur here calling everyone nephew, and just page after page of quoted images saying "here's what I'm wearing" and him saying "nice shoes nephew" and them saying "thank you uncle."
THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS! MacArthur, his aldens, his argyles, and his old - age spotted legs have completely turned me off when it comes to Alden shoes. It's like they are some sort of creepy cult or something. AE's are better for the simple fact that the AE thread hasn't turned into a cult yet... though I still see the posts in this forum all ending with a few of these and a "ALL HAIL ALLISON, THE ENABLER!!!" a few years down the road.... but lets be honest, she deserves to be worshiped by some of the men on this thread!