Been stalking this forum for awhile and I'm thinking of finally getting my first pair of aldens...however I'd like to not break the bank on the first purchase, what are your opinions on:
and any suggestions on other shoes near that price range? On a college budget, so value is key.
for that kind of money, and with that kind of shoe in mind, I'd go with Rancourt.
primarily because they're unlined (and they make handsewn loafers for many other companies)
I would agree with the Rancourt suggestion. I have two pair of Rancourts (beefroll penny loafer and the ranger moc) and have been very pleased with them, especially as a slightly less expensive alternative to Alden. The crew at Rancourt has always been very quick at answering questions for me and guiding me into the correct size as well. I have seen it on the internet (so it must be true) that Alden's Cape Code Collection, like those posted above in the link to Unionmade are actually made by Rancourt so that might be one thing to consider. Another piece of food for thought is that Rancourt is generally pretty willing to do special make-ups for you so if you really like one of their shoes but want it on a different sole or maybe with different color stitching, that could be an option.