Thank you for clarifying. With that in mind, I will try to address your original question. Much of this you may already know, but I will consider newcomers reading along.
You will find some unification with shoe manufacturer preferences on Styleforum.
Allen Edmonds is (arguably) entry level to high end shoes in North America. They do offer a Custom Order service allowing the customer to personalize features on most models to their liking. This comes ofcourse at a premium. In the past, AE was guilty of producing many 'blobby' models. This was primarily due to the use of the 360° Goodyear welting (which I personally have no problem with). Under the recent leadership of their new CEO Paul Grangaard, things have noteably improved. The re-introduction of the 270° welting and revival of several of their Legacy models, has contributed to more sleeker offerings and are deservedly receiving very strong support by consumers. Allen Edmonds shoes are also 'airport scanner friendly' using no steel or metal shank in their construction, should that be a concern.
Alden is a consistent step up from AE for American made shoes using slightly better leathers for both outer and linings. They also have their share of blobby shoes (example- the beloved Barrie last) but also sleeker models (example- Aberdeen last) . Alden does use metal shanks and have to be removed at airport scanners. Here is the Alden Lasts chart (Click to show)
Both Allen Edmonds and Alden offer models in Shell Cordovan if that be the preference.
Both brands offer models with cushioned leather insoles either as stock, or as a customisizing option.
Crockett and Jones receives consistently solid reviews on this forum and for a British made shoe, may fill a sweet spot for higher end in quality, comfort and price.
Churchs' are solid, though in recent years there have been concerns since their takeover by Prada. The concern came with some of the more 'modern spins' on older styles, more agressively or trendy stylings, and also possible comprimise to quality. Church's do however offer a solid range of mainstay models that will satisfy any conservative need
Gaziano Girling, Campanile, Canali (made by Campanile), Edward Green, Barker Black, John Lobb, Saint Crispins, Vass, Berluti, Aubercy, Corthay, Alfred Sargent, Trickers, Ferragamo, Grenson Rose, Cheaney, Camina, Meermin, Peal & Co., etc. just to name a few, all receive strong support on this forum. There are many more I fail to mention here.
Many higher end shoe manufacturers also offer lasted shoe trees and for the manufacturers that do, it would be an indicator that the their shoes are worthy of the additional investment. Shoe trees (lasted or not) are an important part of long term care.
To specifically answer your question...
I don't to start a vs. thread , but do you guys think that a RL/ Crockett & J or Churchs is worthy in price difference over an Alden or AE.
My answer, in a word, would be, yes.
Once in the Alden price range (and up), you will find (and enjoy) finer quality shoes that are worthy of the investment.
It is equally possible for a $400 pair of shoes to last just as long as a $1,000 pair, provided they are of good quality, not abused and are properly cared for.
Occasional recrafting of the entire soles (when the time comes) is also offered, but not by all manufacturers.
Beyond comfort and pride of ownership in the higher end range will lay exclusiveness. One's options are limited only by one's funds.
I highly recommend this thread for further reading: