I got my first pair of first-quality AE Strand in burnished brown late last year. I opted for the Dainite rubber sole, which took a couple of weeks to be made. Once received, they sat in the box for a few months, until recently. Upon unboxing, I find them looking even better in person, except this seam on the right heel, as pictured below.
Being a "perfectionist" and concerned about how the heel would hold up in the Northeastern US, I took the pair above to the local AE retail store, hoping for an exchange on the spot. The store not too surprisingly did not have my size, especially in Dainite sole. Further, the store employees didn't think the seam on the heel is of concern at all. I later arranged for the exchange over the phone.
Today, I'm disheartened to find that the new pair I exchanged for has even more blemishes.
The left one:
The right one:
One heel seems bigger and more poorly-made than the other:
I'm not certain, but I think the first pair that I had returned had "Dainite" in a different font, and there was no "Made in England" marking. I don't want to jump to conclusions, but this second pair almost seems recrafted. Further, maybe it's the lighting today, but compared to the first pair, this second one seems to be more reddish than dark burnished brown, although it's certainly not walnut or ox blood.
I certainly want to exchange this second pair for a more acceptable pair. I'm just wondering if I was too picky with the first pair that I had returned. Should I return this second pair, in exchange for the first pair that I returned, or roll my dice hoping AE finally sends me a flawless pair that's more perfect the first pair?
Would you accept a pair of first-quality AE shoes with a blemish like my first pair of Strand?
Do you think the color is off with this second (current) pair of burnished brown Strand?
Do you think this second pair seems recrafted?