Unfortunately Alden will get them back to how they came from the factory. Nothing more, nothing less. Anything thing else, would be uncivilized!
My 10 yr old 975s are/were the mainstay of my Alden stable--those tireless workhorses that could always be counted on to look good, get beat up, and then come back looking better for it with some TLC. But I haven't worn them since July, when I sent them in for recrafting at B Nelson. I have been very happy with their re-crafting service in the past.
This time, the heels were worn, so I sent them in. Unfortunately, their pricing for a full recrafting isn't that much more than just a replacement heel, so I was tempted by the full job. There has been a lot of talk of antique edges on #8 LWB, so with with the opportunity to lighten the edges and get a waterlock sole, I went all in. I regret the error.
First, B Nelson did the job with oak soles, not the waterlock, and without a dovetail heel. SO I had burned up a recrafting for nothing (the soles themselves had plenty of life left). I took the matter up with Nick, who explained that a) there isn't a finite number of recraftings in any given shoe, b) when they re-stitch the sole to the welt, they attempt to use the same holes, minimizing furhter weakening by perforation, and c) he would re-do the job, charging the premium for the oiled soles. I took issue with c), and in the end, I sent them back to do the job as I originally requested, for no extra charge. I regret the error. As they were doing the job, he asked me if I wanted the lighter stitching on the welt, which remained the original black. Assuming he meant the light stiching you'd see on original antique, I went with it. Again, I regret that decision, and for not clarifying what "light" meant.
In the end, I am not happy with the state of my old favorites.
- The welt stitching is white. I will attempt to dye this back to black.
- The distinctive "apron" (the way the welt/sole extends out from the upper) has been greatly minimized, totally altering the look of the shoe.
- Viewed from the back, the heel is diminished. In addition to being narrower like the rest of the sole, the sides also taper inwards as they go to the ground. The heel should have that stout, plumb-walled look, and that is totally gone. I'm not sure why this needed to happen.
I'm after some ravello LWBs now, and then I'll pick up some 975s in a year two. Ihave generally been sold on B Nelson, but with such variability in the outcome, I'm now more inclined to go to Alden, re-dye and all. That is, when they absolutely need it.