Glad you got what you want. I like to try new places too just to see what the extra gets me. To be honest the A&F cobblers gets you the minimum - ie full leather sole and heel with exposed thread. On nicer shoes the threads are not exposed, but the A&F guys cannot do that style well. The cobbler has to peel back 2mm of the sole's outer layer at the edge, sew onto the midsole and then fold back the outer sole layer and glue down. If not done right the layer will start to peel. I would say 99% of HK cobblers will not go to that amount of trouble to get a much nicer finish.
yes they are crockett and jones - I actually prefer Alden and George Cleverly.
I also noticed the exposed thread. Is there anything functionally wrong with exposed thread (other than yes it doesn't look as swanky)
I go through soles like crazy in HK. The combination of the wet weather and the harsher streets really wear down my shoes to the point that I have started trying TOPY.
Leather soles and wet weather and mid levels is a death sentence.
Nothing wrong with the exposed thread except for esthetics. Usually more expensive shoes come with the channel soles. I change my soles at least once a year since they wear out easily in HK, despite me rotating my shoes. I usually find the sole wears out before the threads do. The Topys make the soles last a lot longer and avoids slips, but I am a bit of a traditionalist and prefer bare leather meeting ground. I went to the A&F alleyway today and now one of the stalls (the one with the mid-forties, bald guy with moustache) do the channeled soles. He showed me his work, not bad, but I suspect the leather that he uses is not the best. The C&J come with oak-bark tanned leather soles and it would be nice to get the same when replacing them. Did the cobbler you went to use JR leather soles? These are said to be the best, highest density leather, so last longer and more water resistant.
his Facebook page where he takes tons of photos of his work