I have not owned any AE shoes until this past February (took advantage of the factory seconds sale). When I received my first pair (chili, BB-branded MacNeils), I was amazed at the difference in quality and construction compared to all of my previous shoes (Cole Haan, sneakers, etc). I finally "got it", and could see why AE customers are also typically loyal fans.
Due to the extremely accessible price-points of AE shoes (sales on factory seconds happen fairly regularly), I have now amassed a tiny collection consisting of 2 pairs of MacNeils and Neumoras, and one pair each of the Maxfield and Eagle County!
Thanks for making quality construction and value an emphasis of your company. I look forward to adding more pairs to my small collection in the future. All this talk of shell has me itching to try a pair!