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Yes, they are. Handgrade, in this context, refers to the C&J line that the shoe belongs to. C&J Handgrade shoes have channeled soles and better leathers and better finishing than their regular-line brethren.
How about these?I like the look of the Ralph Lauren shoes somewhat better, though.
The leather on a tan C&J Handgrade shoe will probably look richer than the leather on a tan Alden shoe, but that's not so much because of the quality of the leather (although the C&J Handgrade leather is probably better quality) as because of the finishing that C&J gives to the shoe. It's antiqued, so there are darker and lighter spots on the shoe. The effect is beautiful. The Alden shoe, however, does not come with an antiqued finish and will consequently look flatter out of the box. In time, if you take care of them, Alden shoes can acquire more dimension: I have a pair in walnut that's beautiful.I've read suggestions that the English brown leathers tend to look better/richer than, say, an Alden. On the other hand, I can get Aldens for ~$100 cheaper and finding a good fit on C&Js makes me nervous. *sigh*