Some random thoughts on Alden Shell, quality and OCD.
First, it seems that many of us here love Shell Cordovan and are also mildly to severely OCD.
Second, Shell Cordovan is used to make shoes by a relatively very small percentage of the world's shoemakers.
Third, the second point is true because shell is rare in all colors (relatively speaking) and allegedly much harder to work with than calf or other leathers.
Fourth, Shell Cordovan shoes are expensive and a lot of us go crazy if the shoes are not perfect. Real blemeshes are not acceptable, but sometimes we obsess over really insignificant glitches.
Fifth, if you have purchased shell shoes from other manufacturers you will know that their shoes are not perfect either (I own Hanover, C&J, Alden and AE shell so I speak from experience).
With these thoughts I would like to point out something that I was told that has greatly helped me with my OCD over the past few years. When I complained to a craftsman about a job he was doing, and in hindsight he was doing it very well, he told me: "if you expect perfection you will always be unhappy, it does not exist. Expect excellence and I will strive to give it to you."
Aldens, AE's, C&J's, Carminas etc. will not be perfect, they are going to have glitches which we can call character. They are hand made. Stitching and finishes are applied by hand and not by a computer controlled machine dolling out exactly the same amount of finish in exactly the same spot on every single pair of size 10D Color 8 LWB's that pass down the line.
If I received a pair of shoes like the messed up CXL LWB's that popped up a few days ago they would go back, but seriously, many of the recent complaints fall into the not perfect but still pretty damned excellent category.
Just my 2 cents.