Comments today have been pretty interesting -- definitely an explosion of activity after a pretty long lull (IMO). I happen to agree with the person who commented that the stripped tankers actually looked pretty good. That said, I would never buy a product to go out of my way to significantly alter it (not on my own, at least). For starters, I lack the skills necessary, but for the money you are spending, I'd think you'd just go get something closer to what you want. I also agree that Alden's shell is - to me - the attraction to the brand, with the calf, CXL and suede models being nice, but costing too much in my view (every time I've come close to popping $550 on one of these, I've always realized that for $650 - $700, there is something in shell I want much more - and the difference at that point makes me want to just spend the extra on the shell).
But obviously we all have our own preferences. I like my C&J and my Carminas. Yes, the shell is drier, but I haven't found it too difficult to add some moisture. As much as I like my Alden shell and the glazed finish, I don't need every pair of shell I buy to have that glazing. I think there is something to be said for a more "natural" look and the thought of this stuff eventually wearing away and leaving discoloration is not all that appealing to me, but I guess that's the way it goes. Anyway, I realize I'm not adding much here but wanted to chime in. Good stuff all around -- I can see why some love their Aldens (as I do) and why others are frustrated and find them to be overrated.
I like the shell the other makers produce. I enjoy building my own patina on top of it, as opposed to the Alden finish. That being said, Alden's shell finishing is magnificent and the only reason I would ever buy from them, given the shortcomings in other areas. Now if only they made less stuff on the Barrie and Trubalance lasts.