Your reply has confounded me, fritzl; Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
no need to. tbh, i don't think i can clarify, i just can give you my personal opinion.
long story short. there are more ways to skin a cat hence everyone has his point of view on shoes.
AE - doesn't exist in my universe.
EG - better quality than AE but equally bland, uninspired etc., etc.
point of departure - shoes already:
Carmina - self confident, stands out of the crowd
JL - good quality, unique
St. C. - as good as it gets
the next step - my personal universe - spleen included.
everything with a soul...
imo, carmina and st. c. are already very close.
i have no intention to discourage you or anyone else. a lot of what i feel about this has to do with access and availability. i'm in the blessed situation that i have fifty shoemakers, take or give, within a radius of 400 miles. this is a lot. i only have seen a fraction of this output in person, but i got the idea as i can imagine you get my idea how to think about it, when in my position.
i hope you don't mind to show you a picture of my old shoemaker, who left the stage last year. a picture tells more than a thousand words.
dude takes care of my shoe trees, any questions?
you think, i'm exaggerating? no way. i give you a view over the edge of a plate.
the good is the enemy of the best, remember?