Only have a St. C wholecut, want to see Phillip again before ordering but haven't been able to make it to a trunk show.
Yes Brown English Grain
Speaking from my experience, I own 3 pairs of EB and 2 pairs of Carmina. I have a pair of Vass on order but can't speak in any great detail on them:
First of all, they're all great brands, and you really can't go wrong with any of them. In general terms the three brands are roughly equal. However, EB allows far more customization at a lower price. EB will also do nice little touches to shoes like a beveled waist and custom liners etc. EB offers hand-welted shoes and Carmina's are Goodyear-welted. I honestly don't know if there's a difference, but if there is- there you go. A lot of the choice between brands should probably come down to fit. Carmina's Rain last is the best fit on me of any shoe I've worn.
2 more random thoughts:
I would buy more Carmina but their US prices are not worth their product.
EB's shell is exquisite; better than any other shell cordovan I've handled (much less worn). I recently bought a pair of mahogany shell boots from a Bonafe GMTO and they're nicer than any other shell cordovan shoes I own, including Alden and Crockett & Jones.
[edited for spelling and grammar]
There are a handful of Carmina styles that I prefer straight-up to comparable offerings from Vass and Bonafe in terms of design. But there's no question that the latter two are a step up in quality. And the price gap isn't what it used to be (particularly for US buyers) so the value proposition for Carmina is difficult. And if we are talking MTO, the value proposition for Carmina simply does not exist, given the absurd 50% surcharge.
As between Vass and Bonafe, they are as close in terms of construction methods and value for dollar as two completely different companies in two completely different countries can get. Different aesthetics, but both have many appealing offerings and are willing to work to satisfy the customer's particular wishes in just about any combination of last, material and colours you could desire. Vass can be a bit more iffy when it comes to actually getting all those details right, however, which can be frustrating to say the least.
I own a bunch of shoes and boots from all three.
Some of the gents here really gave pretty good feedback.
@RogerP's answer I think was especially well balanced and also fairly representative of my own experience.
I do think, however, that it is very difficult comparing between makers that use entirely different construction methods (ie GYW of Carmina vs Handwelt of EB and Vass). There is undoubtedly tremendously more work (and cost) involved in making a pair of handwelted shoes, that ultimately translates into a better constructed pair of shoes (for sure). The processes and expertise needed are completely different.
But then again, when we are addressing people in Styleforum, who own 20/30 pairs of shoes.... The limits of durability that would distinguish a pair of handwelted shoes from GYWs, will probably never be challenged.... I say "durability", because other aspects that may affect overall "quality" of the shoes, like design aesthetics, finishing, uppers, soles, will not be affected by the method used for welting, or at least, not significantly so.
So at the end of the day, will you be able to readily FEEL or TELL the difference between a GYWs and handwelts? Maybe not, but you will KNOW the difference, in your heart.
That being said, especially since Carmina's prices have been steadily rising (esp for US customers), one can really appreciate how much value (unbelievably so), makers like Bonafe represent.
I've found EB's shoes to be exceedingly well made, with their strengths definitely being their more "rustic", "rugged" models and their boots. That being said, their dressier models are EXCELLENTas well. I find their Vitello range of leathers especially good. They feel terrifically supple and have a depth of colour I just can't put words on. I love them and will continue to buy and wear them. Their chain Norvegese stitching is also something else, really.
Vass represents fairly good value for money as well, though I won't go into great length about them on SkoaB's thread. The plus points include their ability to give you single MTOs, their JR soles and the lasted trees. However, similar to other's experience, I find their QC extremely "hit and miss", with sometimes (very) gross errors in design / specs requests. However, one balances this with the potential of getting a pretty good pair of shoes at a very reasonable price. In terms of value, I would still say Vass and EB stand on their own.