When you hit $1100+ for a pair of Aldens I just have to throw up my hands and scream. At some point, with overseas sourcing from France or Japan - you have to seek a better option. For starters, in RTW/MTO, Vass is a superior shoe. Higher quality control, better materials, more hand work and many, many more options (lasts, leather, styling, insole adjustments, etc) for a lower cost. You can get this done without jumping on a plane to Budapest if you do some homework on the forum and solicit the advice of others.
I'll go one further and say that Calf ML from Moulded (and I have been a customer for a long time) are simply no longer worth what they are charging. Recognize that Moulded doesn't advertise prices on their Blogs and website - they charge more than anyone else. A pair of Calf ML shoes are running around $550 + tax - WTF! Look at the calf shoes from Leathersoul, Leffot and others - all running a bit under $500 and they are simply better looking shoes. Alden is not focused on ML - their Footbalance line is dying a slow death so at the end of the day, you are simply locked into special make-ups on duplicative styles from one shoe store in the USA (or pay silly $$$ in Japan & France). I love the guys at Moulded and I think their service is great - I am simply arguing that I believe there is a better option out there and I aim to find it...
I recently was in Vienna on business and ordered a pair of shoes from Maftei. Mr. Maftei is extremely knowledgeable and is very focused on customer service. He measured me on a Sunday and had a test shoe with a custom adjustments built into the insole ready by Tuesday of the same week. After a face-to-face analysis of the test shoe fit - we are moving on to the final shoe, which will be done in a month and shipped to my home in the US. Net of VAT - this pair of shoes will cost the equivalent of 2 pairs of Modified Last Calf (or one pair of shell from France/Japan). Please realize that these are fully bespoke shoes and that Shell is an option (I went for calf). Once Mr. Maftei and I get the fit dialed-in I will be be a very happy man and will start building out a wardrobe.. Overall, I spent about 2.5 hours with Mr. Maftei while I was in Vienna.
I also started the process with Cleverley - a far more expensive option that I probably would not have pursued had I known I would be traveling to Vienna for work. This pair of shoes is being built around my orthotics where with Maftei, the corrections and arch support are being built directly into the shoe. Given the cost associated with Cleverley, this is likely to be a one-pair experience.