I prefer Alden to Allen Edmonds, but there are some things Allen Edmonds does better. Allen Edmonds has a good amount of stores and some of their shoes are sold at mainstream stores such as Nordstrom making them much more accessible than Alden. They also offer free shipping and returns so it is much easier and cheaper to find my fit or try on the shoes to see if they look as good on my feet as they do in the photo on a website. There are really only a handful of stores that sell Alden and I can't think of one that doesn't at least charge for returns. Allen Edmonds has a far superior web presence then Alden as well.
Also, Allen Edmonds customer service is the best. You can deal with a central customer service department for all of your issues and they will work with you from start to finish. Whereas with Alden you need to go through the place that sold you the shoes and I don't usually find them to be as cooperative, but that's just my experience. I do hear good things from people who are able to walk into the San Fran and DC stores to get serviced.
Allen Edmonds has much more reasonably priced shoe care products than Alden such as laces, brushes, etc. A shoe brush from Alden is $35 while an almost identical one sells for $10 from Allen Edmonds. Allen Edmonds polishes, paste waxes, etc I find are better quality as well. Alden paste wax smells like gas.
Allen Edmonds prices are far cheaper than Alden. They frequently have sales, clearance mark downs and it is really easy to purchase seconds at a reduced cost. The flip side of that is that Allen Edmonds shoes depreciate faster than alcohol evaporates into air. The moment you purchase a pair of Allen Edmonds the value plummets. You'd be lucky to get half of what you paid for it after wearing it only a single time. Wear it 10 times or more and your $400 shoe is worth $40 max on eBay. This is simply not so with Alden. In fact some shoes, mainly rare colored cordovan such as Cigar, Ravello or Whiskey can be sold for more than the original retail cost even after several wearings. Other shell cordovan models go for much higher resale prices comparatively. This is highly important to me because sometimes after wearing a shoe a few times I realize I just don't love it and I don't keep things I don't really like. Or worse, to have a new pair of Allen Edmonds in a normal size that just doesn't fit and I can't sell it to save my life without losing a couple hundred dollars. Allen Edmonds sucks for this.
Allen Edmonds does offer many more styles, but many of their lasts don't fit my feet well and some of them aren't very pleasing to look at or have odd proportions. Their attempts to create fashion forward shoe styles are sometimes a fail but at least they try.
Alden's looks are a little better IMHO when compared to their Allen Edmonds counterpart models. Most important to me is the that Alden is the king of shell cordovan. That is almost all I wear anymore and they do it best. I would prefer more cordovan colors in their usual offerings though.
All in all they are both good shoes. If I like a certain style and Alden offers it I will usually always choose Alden, but for the models that Alden doesn't offer I am fine with Allen Edmonds as long as I can them on a steep sale.
Edited by Skelnik - 9/14/16 at 3:32am