The same thing happened to my Alden #8 boots on the 3rd wearing, it is frustrating I hear you! I ended up ordering flat boot laces from TZ Laces in several different colors. They also sell round boot laces. Not cheap, but they have held up well so far.
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I have a pair of AE Townleys in Brown shell. I also have cigar LHS from Alden. I can't peak for C&J.
I will say the AE shell tends to have more of a matte finish while the Alden is quite shinny. I like both, so I have both. You can see also the pair I just had recrafted is quite shiny.
The fact that you can get almost anything you want via a MTO with AE is something else!
There is nothing dubious about AE shell, at least to me. I have shell from AE, Alden, and RL Marlow which are made by C&J. As tampatravel said AE can be more of a matte finish out of the box but with time and work they can and will look like the others. Some differences in colors between them but overall I consider them to be the same quality shell.
Great choice on the Dundee's. I prefer them over the Alden 2 eye chukka on the Barrie last by far.
AE doesn't currently make a PTB in suede, which, as far as I am concerned, is a serious gap in their product range. Your option is likely an MTO, but keep in mind that the design of the eyestays on AE differs from that of Alden, so you won't be able to perfectly replicate the look. If you are set for Aldens, keep an eye on the Shoemart's seconds: I've routinely seen suede PTB on the lists Ive been getting.
On a related note, I do have AE navy suede PTB (Stewart for Lands End Canvas) and I think they are great. I also had a similar looking Paul Stuart suede PTB on a crepe sole and I didn't like it nearly as much as navy suede PTB. I think color does add a nice touch to the otherwise fairly plain shoe and elevates it on to a next level.
This is a great idea to look for seconds but I checked it out and the Shoemart does not ship Alden outside of the US and I am in Canada. I might have to look into a MTO or maybe just bite the bullet and grab the Alden PTB next time I see them on sale.
Those are AWESOME. Like tifosi said, I thought they were Navy at first glance. I'd love a pair in NAVY come to think of it.... I have to stop looking on here - ssssseriously.
Technically, you could order seconds through a regular retail AE location.
However, if you wish to deal directly with the outlet/factory store branch of the company, which seems logical for such purposes, you don't necessarily have to call the Port Washington ShoeBank. You could call any of these. They should have access to the same inventory, and many of them are open as late as 9pm during the week (but some close as early as 5-6pm some days). I'll list some of them here for future reference, but the information, with hours, is on the Allen Edmonds website.
-ShoeBank in Port Washington, WI (262-284-7158, email@example.com)
-ShoeBank 2 in Brookfield, WI (262-785-6666, firstname.lastname@example.org)
-Tanger Outlets of Mebane, NC (919-563-2446, email@example.com)
-Tanger Outlets of Jeffersonville, OH (740-948-9033, firstname.lastname@example.org)
-Tanger Outlets of Charleston, SC (843-747-4002, email@example.com)
-Tanger Outlets of Riverhead, NY (631-369-0947, firstname.lastname@example.org)
-The Outlet Shops of Grand River in Leeds, AL (205-699-6566, email@example.com)
-Outlet in Freeport, ME (207-865-6222, firstname.lastname@example.org)
-Silver Sands Outlets in Destin, FL (850-654-4790, email@example.com)
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