I happened to get the opportunity to compare AF1’s from 3 different production years. Here, I want to introduce a brief comparison of each production lot. They have been worn for years in different situations and aging conditions also vary but I hope I can find some interesting difference on the details.
1. AF1 (production code: 8J)
There is no clear information remaining, but it seems that the first AF1 has been introduced in the year of 1996. This is my AF1 and oldest production lot among the three. Since I purchased from AoC, I think I have given proper care on them and I believe they still keep brand new condition (actually, I haven't worn them too much and didn't apply a lot of wax or cream until now). Mahogany shell still preserves vivid reddish tone and there is a clear contrast with Whiskey shell.
Quite interesting enough, however, this AF1 has dark edge finish on its sole edge while the other AF1’s have tan antique edge like the introduction photo on AoC's original HP. Even though it's dark mahogany finish, it’s highly transparent and definitely different from normal one which is usually seen on #8.
On the other hand, this dark finish hasn't been applied on upper welt and it seems just kept as natural. As far as I understand, there are four variations of Alden's sole edge finish: black, dark mahogany, antique and natural. Since natural finish is usually done on non-cordovan shoes, this is probably not intentional but just the result of applying finish only at the edge.
From the front view, two-tone contrast becomes subtle but there is still a contrast anyway. Now, dark sole edge gives additional contrast which is good fit with upper body. Probably the sole edge finish is done at the end of the process, so the worker might have wanted to make the balance between the strong contrast on Whiskey/Mahogany shell and the sole by applying darker finish at the sole edge.
2. AF1 (production code: 1D)
Another AF1 is also a good example of keeping good condition as it maintains beautiful golden Alden logo on the insole. On the other hand, however, mahogany shell turned to beautiful brown and it creates a great harmony between the condition and the aging. This aging Mahogany shell has quite similar, but surely different shade from Whiskey shell, so that the quick glance may bring us the confusion as "Aberdeen AC-1".
This beautiful brown Mahogany rather creates natural contrast with Whiskey shell. Whiskey shell keeps flawless condition and even looks like brand new. Fewer creases on the vamp also emphasize this AF1's amazing beauty.
From the side view, I can confirm this pair has light tan antique finish at the sole edge, for sure. I think this is the original finish and my AF1's dark edge is a kind of exception. It's quite interesting, however, Mahogany shell looks even lighter in its shade than Whiskey. It actually looks as "Whiskey Saddles shoes" and personally, I like this pair the best among the three.
Here is the great example of the collaboration with denim and we can acknowledge this shoe was definitely designed for casual wear. I believe this level of the contrast between Whiskey and Mahogany can be easily fit in any kinds of casual style.
3. AF1 (production code: 2F)
The last AF1 is amazing example of the years of the aging and we can even feel the long history of the shoes and the owner's love. According to the owner, Mr. Kamonegi, he usually applies KIWI's wax (Adam kindly included tan and mid-tan wax for complimentary) once or twice a year and just brushes occasionally. He simply repeated this for almost 16 years and this beautiful aging was created. That's really amazing...
The shoes have deepest creases but they still keep flawless surface without any noticeable stains. I can easily imagine how properly the owner has kept the maintenance on them.
Mahogany shell also turned to brown color but still preserves its original reddish tone. Whiskey shell also turned to deep brown color which really amazed me how Whiskey shell changed its shade beautifully like this. Deep-glossy dark aging Whiskey is just stunning...
Front view is somehow similar to my AF1 except for its aging texture of this pair. It seems this sole edge is also done with light tan antique finish. Dark sole edge could have added additional contrast but the combination this pair has is quite nice as well. This AF1 can remind us how fun to enjoy the aging of the leather.
It's been more than 20 years since the first AF1 was introduced by AoC. Probably the last production lot of AF1 was around 2006 or 2007. Considering its almost 10 years production period, many AF1's should have been delivered but most of them may not remain in good condition any longer.
This was the great opportunity to compare such precious shoes and I like to thank to Shogo san and Kamonegi san for giving me the permission to use their beautiful photos and I'm really honored to write this article. I'm glad if this could help for many Alden fans to understand why AF1 has attracted them and why it's been called "King of MakeUp Shoes, AF1".