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The Official Alden Thread for 2021 - Share Reviews, Sizing, Advice, and Photos.

broiler

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At least based upon my experience, I don't think there's much of a difference in the aging properties of Horween shell from any of the makers you listed other than probably Alden. I think C&J may use more colored polish on their shell from the factory. I can tell you that I stripped a TON of it off my Harlechs when they were brand new. Perhaps that's a factor in your perception of the color change?

To me, Alden is really the odd duck in that they so heavily process their shell. Everyone else seems to be within a relatively tight range and the differences seem to be more at the margins. AE for example, tends to burnish a lot of their shell but limited to the toes (not really a fan of that). Carmina uses some kind of polish at the factory but I don't get the sense it's tinted. I am pretty curious to know what they use since I like it and find it to be very long lasting. C&J def seems to use colored polish, probably to improve matching. No idea if they are doing it across the board or just on a case by case basis but it for my pairs it has been too heavy handed for my taste.
I tend to agree but don't own enough pairs of each maker to have a strong opinion - the only maker of which I have multiple shell pairs right now is Alden, and all of those are black or #8. Based on those, I do think Alden treats their shell with some kind of plasticky finish that improves consistency and gloss from new and (evident in their #8) darkens the finish considerably which fades over time as the finish wears away.

Relative to Alden, the one pair of AE #8 shell I owned was lighter and less glossy from new and I divested them thinking the shell was somehow lower quality. In hindsight that was probably because it didn't have the finish Alden applies. This was before I learned to buff with Venetian Shoe Cream to (dramatically) improve gloss and appearance.

Of my rare shell, my C&J Marlow PTB in dark brown also started with some kind of finish that must have improved color consistency from new. Over time however, that wore away as the iridescent patina developed. However, this caused imperfections to become visible and the right vamp shows a rough and noticeably less glossy surface than the left, which was not evident from new.

My Carmina saddle shell was incredibly consistent everywhere from new and I remember marveling how "rare" shell could be this consistently color matched. However, the color has always been flat without the iridescent patina and still is after 6 years of wear.

My best rare shell experience has been my Rozsnyai custom make-up in Armagnac. Because they don't normally use Horween, they special ordered two shells straight from the factory and made them into my boots without treating them in any way. Out of the box they were glossy, waxy and supple with patina (color changes depending on lighting and angle) already visible. However, because they haven't been color treated, there's a slight color mismatch between left and right vamp. The worst angle is as shown:

1618493219751.png


1618493327951.png



But in different lighting, color appears uniform:

1618493431910.png



Because this is a slight COLOR mismatch with the texture uniformly smooth and glossy throughout, I vastly prefer this to my C&J experience where the TEXTURE became inconsistent, but not evident from new due to the color treatment. But the C&J dark brown shell is exemplary everywhere else except on the right vamp.

This is not meant as an indictment of any maker because shell is a natural material with imperfections and that's just the way it shook out in the specific pairs I own.

That said, if Alden cigar and ravello are comparable to my experience with Armagnac shell (based on online pics they appear to be), I still really want/need some of those.
 
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jischwar

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I tend to agree but don't own enough pairs of each maker to have an informed opinion - the only maker of which I have multiple shell pairs right now is Alden, and all of those are black or #8. Based on those, I do think Alden treats their shell with some kind of plasticky finish that improves consistency and gloss from new and (evident in their #8) darkens the finish considerably which fades over time as the finish wears away.

Relative to Alden, the one pair of AE #8 shell I owned was lighter and less glossy from new and I divested them thinking the shell was somehow lower quality. In hindsight that was probably because it didn't have the finish Alden applies. This was before I learned to buff with Venetian Shoe Cream to (dramatically) improve gloss and appearance.

Of my rare shell, my C&J Marlow PTB in dark brown also started with some kind of finish that must have improved color consistency from new. Over time however, that wore away as the iridescent patina developed. However, this caused imperfections to become visible and the right vamp shows a rough and noticeably less glossy surface than the left, which was not evident from new.

My Carmina saddle shell was incredibly consistent everywhere from new and I remember marveling how "rare" shell could be this consistently color matched. However, the color has always been flat without the iridescent patina and still is after 6 years of wear.

My best rare shell experience has been my Rozsnyai custom make-up in Armagnac. Because they don't normally use Horween, they special ordered two shells straight from the factory and made them into my boots without treating them in any way. Out of the box they were glossy, waxy and supple with patina (color changes depending on lighting and angle) already visible. However, because they haven't been color treated, there's a slight color mismatch between left and right vamp. The worst angle is as shown:

View attachment 1593618

View attachment 1593620


But in different lighting, color appears uniform:

View attachment 1593621


Because this is a slight COLOR mismatch with the texture uniformly smooth and glossy throughout, I vastly prefer this to my C&J experience where the TEXTURE became inconsistent, but not evident from new due to the color treatment. But the C&J dark brown shell is exemplary everywhere else except on the right vamp.

This is not meant as an indictment of any maker because shell is a natural material with imperfections and that's just the way it shook out in the specific pairs I own.

That said, if Alden cigar and ravello is comparable to my experience with Armagnac shell (based on online pics I believe it is), I really need some of those.
Wow, those look incredible!
 

Sheepdog

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Taken from a LHS collector.. chill pill.. they will overtime conform and make you a happy camper for life. These are artisan hand made.. u want insta go grab some Nike
Thanks for talking me off the ledge. The left one is moderately more comfortable sockless, so maybe there's not too much room needed. I think I'll just wear them a lot and let them form to fit.
 

madhat

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Well, hoping I didn't strike out on the new LHS. The right one fits like a glove, but the left one is a little tight width wise in the forefoot, causing some soreness along the outside of the foot from the ball of my pinky toe and a little ways further back.

Like an idiot, I wore them to work today thinking it would be ok and work out, but still not comfortable at the end of the day. Not unwearable by any means, but certainly bothersome.

In this case, would you all a) sell while they're still valuable with only one wear, or b) attempt a stretch of some sort (not sure if this is even possible or advisable)
Pen trick works great for me for pinkie clearance! Do this after they are good and sweaty from a day's wear and continue for a while until all is well. If shell, you may have to do it once, then the next time get it in further since it's a bit more resistant to stretching. It will though... These AE ones are shell.
IMG_20210415_074143.jpg
 

BAK

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Well, hoping I didn't strike out on the new LHS. The right one fits like a glove, but the left one is a little tight width wise in the forefoot, causing some soreness along the outside of the foot from the ball of my pinky toe and a little ways further back.

Like an idiot, I wore them to work today thinking it would be ok and work out, but still not comfortable at the end of the day. Not unwearable by any means, but certainly bothersome.

In this case, would you all a) sell while they're still valuable with only one wear, or b) attempt a stretch of some sort (not sure if this is even possible or advisable)
Stretching shoes is a pretty easy task. If you have a reputable cobbler close by they can do it for you for minimal cost. Takes about a day at most (depending on how much stretching is required). Or you could spend a little more money, get this stretcher, and do the job yourself. As mentioned in the pdf instructions it's best used with a spray product like this.
 
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stook1

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I tend to agree but don't own enough pairs of each maker to have a strong opinion - the only maker of which I have multiple shell pairs right now is Alden, and all of those are black or #8. Based on those, I do think Alden treats their shell with some kind of plasticky finish that improves consistency and gloss from new and (evident in their #8) darkens the finish considerably which fades over time as the finish wears away.

Relative to Alden, the one pair of AE #8 shell I owned was lighter and less glossy from new and I divested them thinking the shell was somehow lower quality. In hindsight that was probably because it didn't have the finish Alden applies. This was before I learned to buff with Venetian Shoe Cream to (dramatically) improve gloss and appearance.

Of my rare shell, my C&J Marlow PTB in dark brown also started with some kind of finish that must have improved color consistency from new. Over time however, that wore away as the iridescent patina developed. However, this caused imperfections to become visible and the right vamp shows a rough and noticeably less glossy surface than the left, which was not evident from new.

My Carmina saddle shell was incredibly consistent everywhere from new and I remember marveling how "rare" shell could be this consistently color matched. However, the color has always been flat without the iridescent patina and still is after 6 years of wear.

My best rare shell experience has been my Rozsnyai custom make-up in Armagnac. Because they don't normally use Horween, they special ordered two shells straight from the factory and made them into my boots without treating them in any way. Out of the box they were glossy, waxy and supple with patina (color changes depending on lighting and angle) already visible. However, because they haven't been color treated, there's a slight color mismatch between left and right vamp. The worst angle is as shown:

View attachment 1593618

View attachment 1593620


But in different lighting, color appears uniform:

View attachment 1593621


Because this is a slight COLOR mismatch with the texture uniformly smooth and glossy throughout, I vastly prefer this to my C&J experience where the TEXTURE became inconsistent, but not evident from new due to the color treatment. But the C&J dark brown shell is exemplary everywhere else except on the right vamp.

This is not meant as an indictment of any maker because shell is a natural material with imperfections and that's just the way it shook out in the specific pairs I own.

That said, if Alden cigar and ravello are comparable to my experience with Armagnac shell (based on online pics they appear to be), I still really want/need some of those.
Very nice chukka boots!

Slightly controversial thought and if this is already obvious to you feel free to ignore. There are a lot of vocal people on the internet saying to never use products on shell cordovan and to just brush and brush until your arms fall off. That's fine if it's your jazz but there's absolutely nothing wrong with using product to get your shoes into the zone that you prefer.

At the end of the day, like any other leather -- it's a natural, variable product and sometimes different shoes require different care to achieve the look that you want. I suspect it's more that than it is differences between what the shoemakers are doing (barring Alden, which processes more).
 

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