I agree that a $25/year increase makes it seem like in a few years, aldens will be very expensive. I am not sure how other brands are increasing (or not) their prices in respect to this, but if you consider inflation to average around 4%, and that the average shell boot/shoe costs around $650, you get $26 annually for inflation. It seems hard to swallow that in 2024, shell will cost > $1000, but everything in 2024 will cost more.
Edit: I do also agree though, if the price of Alden starts to creep up towards Carmina, and other name brands producing nice shells, then there are fewer and fewer Aldens that would be attractive at that price. I would however, choose a lot of Alden boot make ups over other companies; Alden makes the best boots (in terms of looks, not quality control) in the world, in my opinion.
feeling the same way, I grabbed the C&J McCallum (brown shell chukka) from RL last month. much sleeker than the alden chukka (barrie or plaza), but with my *only* foray into C&J, im plenty disappointed in the finishing. i might just be skewed by aldens finishing, but for a shoe that RL listed on their website for $1300 (IIRC), I anticipated them being fairly flawless
price wise, I was in for $570ish with the discounts offered by RL at the time, so slightly cheaper than cigar chukkas from a typical vendor (my cigar barrie chukkas came from O'Connells for $600 IIRC a yr or so ago)