Originally Posted by AlexE
Slightly better leather + upgraded soles = 50% price premium? IMHO that does not bring them much closer to EG or G&G quality (not to speak about last attractiveness...but that is subjective). The upgrade might make em equivalent to C&J Benchgrade, but in this case they are not a bargain.
But they are AVAILABLE across much of the US. You can walk into a local store, try them, experience them and by them. That's a major plus; in addition to supporting a business trying to make it here. I'll never be able to wear C&J as they are all too wide so AE is an option. I've never said they are as good as a shoe like EG that is twice the price. But they are closer in quality than the doubling of price reflects so therefore are not a bad deal.
A caveat for me in all of this is that I have a custom pair coming along... I can't fully judge until I have them in hand and on foot. However, my 12-13 year old pair of AE's is still probably the most durable shoe I own to date, in my collection, and that includes bespoke.