As a longtime $60-$150 shoe buyer, I was largely ignorant of shoe construction and manufacture process, focusing only on appearance and price as the barometer for shoe purchases. Earlier this year, I took a more critical look at my shoe collection and found all of them were made in China, India, or Brazil.
After some research on the internet, most notably on AAAC, I kept seeing "AE" mentioned. So I went on the site and looked. The more I learned about shoes, the more I was curious about quality footwear.
In November I had the opportunity to visit the AE store in Washington DC, where I made my first purchase, black/red Ridgeways.
When the shoes arrived a month later, I wore those Ridgeways to work paired with a black pinstripe suit and red tie, I received more comments about the shoes in one day, than in the last 3 years combined. Prior to that I spent 22 years in the military. Boots didn't get much fashion play.
Since then, I have bought 4 more pairs of AEs and retired some worn pairs (cole haan, Stacy Adams, Aldo, Johnston Murphy)
In the span of about a month, I now own 5 pairs of AEs with plans for purchasing more. I'm eye-balling the Boca Ratons and a few others.
Having made the jump from $100-$150 shoes to $230 Ridgeways and $345 Park Avenues, I can no longer justify spending money on glue-construction $100 Chinese made shoes. It's like making the jump from PC to Mac: once you go MAC, you never go back!