I think several issues are involved here and most of them have been mentioned. The shoes that are discussed most frequently are conservatively styled, well-made business shoes that are more or less readily available in the US. I would also note, however, that these manufacturers generally have only one or two lines of shoes, so you won't get a comment that "C&J are crap", whereas you will read that "Ferragamos are crap". I think the companies who sell both high- and low-end shoes are not always appreciated by those who have experience only with the lower-end lines. I personally like to have a variety of shoes in my collection. I appreciate English shoes for business (my current favorite shoes are a pair of Grenson Stowe "wholecuts" in dark brown calfskin and suede combination.
Thanks Chris!) and I like shell cordovan very much. So I own several pairs of Alden and C&J shell cordovan shoes. But I like Italian shoes to wear when more casual, fashion-forward shoes are appropriate, so approximately 40-50% of my good shoes are Italian. I'm basically quite conservative in my tastes and don't own any shoes with truly extreme styling, but the more conservative Italian styles are just slightly more stylized versions of standard styles. I also like the fact that Italian shoes can be found on sale more easily than the English shoes. Edit: I would dearly love to try Weston, Sutor Mantellassi, and other brands such as Carmina, but I'm now approaching the stage where I can target specific styles by specific manufacturers. On my next trip to DC in June, I may stop at Sky Valet to see what they have. Last time I was there, I was disappointed to discover they had no Carmina shell cordovan shoes in my size, 12D.