Regarding the discussion about scarcity of shell cordovan causing the long delays for orders: I used to attribute the long delays entirely to the rumoured scarcity, especially for things like whiskey and ravello, but like others have noted, now that color #8 output is slowing down and so is suede, I think much more of the delay probably comes from capacity at the Alden factory. I've also heard over the last couple of years that work to shoes being sent in to Alden is also beginning to slow down.
It seems like Alden is getting much more publicity over the past few years, and there is a general trend back towards higher quality menswear. Alden management may see this as possibly no more than a fad and could be reticent to higher more production staff or increase capacity in other ways fearing that the trend will not continue for the long-term. They'd probably rather just ride the wave and continue increasing prices where they can and seeing how much the consumer is willing to put up with before demand begins to suffer. Let's remember, this is a 130-year-old company that has survived the collapse of the once-thriving New England apparel and footwear industry. They didn't last this long by making rash decisions.
I don't contend that scarcity plays no part in the delays, I just think much more of the hold up is on Alden's end.
As for my three pair that garner the most compliments from women:
- Brown alpine grain LWB from FransBoone
- Snuff suede 4-eyelet moccasins
- #8 wingtip boots
Far and away, the leader in the compliments regard, is the alpine grain LWB. The other two listed above are basically also-rans.
The only pair that my wife has ever complimented me on is my #8 and alpine grain saddle shoes.