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I recently received a pair of Alden LHS that I sent off to Alden to be re-soled/re-crafted for the 2nd time. The first pic is not a "before" photo of the recently re-crafted pair (which is the 2nd photo) but rather another pair I have in a similar, though not quite as dire, state of wear. The 3rd photo is an as-yet unworn pair that I bought from Brooks Brothers a few years ago when they were getting rid of their Alden inventory. I have been keeping them in their box in a safe place. The strategic cordovan reserve, if you will. I am again very pleased with Alden's work, and am planning to send off one or more other pairs for re-crafting soon.
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Very nice. My several shell cordovan shoes (mainly refurbished vintage Florsheims, and other older brands, plus a couple of Aldens and one AE) are all more or less part of the Strategic Shell Cordovan Reserve now, LOL, although they have actually all been worn a few times. These days, most of my vast shoe collection, cordovan or not, appear to be held back since I have few occasions to wear shoes unless it is cold weather, and then I have calfskins and boots I can wear from late fall to spring. The biggest wear is on Birkenstocks, and I most assuredly have a Strategic Birkenstock Reserve!
 

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Isn't it amazing how often we collect shoes, collect clothing, collect cameras and lenses, collect watches, etc. instead of using what we have? Humans seem to love items that appeal to our artistic sensibilities and we want more and more if it in our personal space. I know I do not really use these kinds of items to their fullest extent. Yet, I am grateful when I get them.
 

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Very true. And some of the items I collect have little practical use, unlike clothes and shoes. For instance, stamps (whether used or mint) are collected for aesthetic reasons, and not because they are going to be put to use (if mint) to carry mail. The same is true of a variety of objects that people collect, most notably, works of art. Again, one does these kinds of collections for psychological, cultural and aesthetic reasons. I once gave a talk on the psychology of collecting and it was instructive to me to ask people why they collect objects. One of the most basic reasons was the control and organization one could extend to a small part of the world.

Many non-collecting activities have no practical utility either, except perhaps the provision of employment for armies of people in the service of those activities. Almost any sport qualifies. Hitting a ball with a bat, chasing after another larger ball in order to kick it into a net with two posts, or running with one to one end of a field, dropping a ball into a wire-rimmed slot with a net around it, using sticks to hit a ball into holes in the ground -- the list is almost endless. In functional, practical terms, sports do not advance human civilization, but we have fun playing them or watching them be played by those skilled at them. Poetry and fiction, plays, music, cinema and many other artistic activities do not have practical utility either, but they add an immense dimension to our human nature and our culture. Whether these cultural and entertainment dimensions are essential to daily functioning is an issue worth considering, but most of us would agree that they enrich our lives in ways that are not measurable through utility alone. However, it is chastening to consider how irrelevant a lot of our activities may be in societies and nations where the most basic needs -- food, clothing, shelter -- are met only with great difficulty, or not met at all.

One of the most beloved Zen monks in Japan had very few possessions: Two robes, two pairs of sandals and a small collection of books. Yet he enriched the lives of many by teaching them the way of Buddhist dharma and the key to ending suffering. I can't think of a more noble activity, but it has nothing to do with the possession of objects! And I also remember a doctor in Kerala, India, who practised medicine and made people healthy by travelling from village to village and treating the poor for free -- he was given food by the people, and looked after by them, and they gave him a bicycle to help in his travels. Clinics gave him some access to testing facilities and they too, knew of the work he was doing. The love that the monk in Japan and the doctor in India had for other human beings is perhaps the highest level of humanity one could aspire to, and yet it had little to do with objects or money. But those people also functioned against the backdrop of societies that were firmly anchored in the temporal and the material, and not given all that much to the spiritual. Yet another paradox of human existence, I suppose.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Isn't it amazing how often we collect shoes, collect clothing, collect cameras and lenses, collect watches, etc. instead of using what we have? Humans seem to love items that appeal to our artistic sensibilities and we want more and more if it in our personal space. I know I do not really use these kinds of items to their fullest extent. Yet, I am grateful when I get them.
I don't "collect" shoes myself. I just happen to have an unusual number of this particular model of shoe. I loved the first pair so much and wore it so often that I was wearing it out, so I got a second pair via The Shoe Mart's Alden irregulars. They both continue to see heavy rotation and thus get a lot of wear at work where I walk on hard surfaces all day. I will admit buying a third pair was unusual, but BB was blowing them out at such a ridiculous discount I considered it a wise purchase. Indeed, they hold their value better than some financial instruments these days. And, ultimately, they will get worn despite being in reserve for the time being, as opposed to being purchased to keep unworn permanently.
 

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A lovely recrafting job on my favorite shoes (even though at present I do not have a pair). My current dress shoe rotation is three pairs of Aldens: chromexcel LHS, snuff suede LHS, and shell tassell loafers in no. 8. They all get worn on a fairly regular basis. My big collection is not clothing or footwear. It is things for the kitchen. I have nearly reached that point where it will need to become one out for each new one in, but my rule of keeping only things that are used at least annually has been fairly effective. Also, as with clothing, I developed long ago a sensibility that saved me from acquiring things that might have been fun but would clearly not be long term keepers. That sensibility has served me well in all things and helped me to keep all things at or near the Goldilocks ideal level.

Back on topic, my shell LHS from Brooks served me well. I wore them often, sometimes five or six times per week (!) for thirty plus years. When they needed new soles I took them to a small local cobbler chain, Austin Shoe Hospital. I experimented with various soles and heels. I should have stuck to leather soles and heels and probably should have sent them to Alden rather than the local cobbler. They would likely still be in service.
 

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Having just restarted purchasing Alden, after needing serious orthotics , giving away a raft of Aldens, due to them not fitting any longer, and spending lots of time and money on finding shoes which my feet will fit into, I purchased a factory second in the Aberdeen tassle in burgundy calf. Not wearing better shoes that often now while living in a retirement community, it may be a while before I find frequent reasons to wear better shoes ,however, it does feel good to have a useable and long term friend in my closet when needed. Now to try a factory second in LHS.
 
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