Originally Posted by SRacer
The main issue was that the underlying quality of the calf leather, tanning, and finish were highly variable.
This is true of any maker and it being a product derived from nature cannot be consistently produced in large quantities of uniformly high quality. It is up the the firm as well as the clicker to acquire and use the best available leathers.
Unfortunately, based on my previous purchases, the leather issue plagues both of the makers you are considering as well, good calfskin is getting very costly and rare. Having said that, I am going to echo Mark aka emptym my preference, pound for pound, goes to AS for their flexibility in customization and responsiveness
. They can make anything you want to roughly two levels of quality - Exclusive (which is similar to C&J handgrades) or AS Handgrade in any leather of your choice in any fitting on their numerous lasts. You can order them directly from Chay of AS, through leffot or Richard of Shoehealer. I have no direct experience with Leffot but both Richard and Chay were wonderful to work with and they will take good care of you. In fact, before you consider MTO, you might want to look at the in-stock AS exclusives first.
Not that I am putting GC down or anything, they are most accomodating when you opt for bespoke, which goes without saying, and also obviously is on another (price and quality) level altogether. I find anything below that to be abit too rigid for my taste, this includes the AC range.
In my limited experience, as far as leather quality on RTW and even MTO, only EG has proven to be the most consistent for me but YMMV as my shoe collection is statistically insignificant to have any weight.