I know I won't get much sympathy here but needed to vent. I have a modest shell collection, but of the 5 pairs I own I've had issues now with 4. Yesterday I scuffed my cigar plain toes. Not a big deal, I know that's going to happen. Today I woke up and began working on them, but after using a deer bone (lightly) and brushing, a second area which resembled the scuff appeared. See pictures below. The scuff on the left was caused by wearing and the circular one on the right from caring for the shoes.
I know that shell is thought of as a tough leather and I would never deny its aesthetic appeal, but I have found it to be anything but resilient. And I should say that I have been firmly planted on the side that babies shell, despite its reputation for being a tough material. The only pair with which I have not had an issue is a color 8 LWB floor model from 2002 that I picked up last year. I love that shoe. The leather feels thicker than my other shells and has never had any issues. I'm not holding Alden solely responsible for Horween's material, which may or may not have been better several years ago. But I do hold Alden responsible for the quality and longevity of their product.
I'm also about to send back a pair of kudu boots which now have speed hooks that have rotated and trim stitching that has come undone. At best I can accept this as natural wear, even though I've owned them for less than a year and only wear then 2-3 times per month. Still, my Wolverine Addisons have never had any issues and have had at least 5 times the wear. Definitely not as comfortable as my Aldens but at I'm not dealing with customer service on a boot that's half the price.
Anyway, it currently looks like my shell run is over unless Alden steps up on the cigar plain toes and can somehow fix them. I feel my expectations for quality are aligned with the price of these shoes. I may try a another pair of non shell in the future but for now it looks like there's more shell for you guys.