The downside of Velasca is that they don't have as large of a variety as other shoe makers. It hasn't really bothered me too much, since I'm flexible in terms of color, broguing and sole type as long as the shoe meets solid construction standards (full grain leather, stitched sole).
Glad that there's a few people here that are open to something not AE. Online shoe threads are almost not even fun to read anymore, because it seems that every one is a what's your favorite AE thread. It's like Joe writing about tons of Chelsea boots lately, except all the time. Haha
Perhaps you could use polish to darken the shoes you like, but are too light. I have never done this, but in theory it should work.
I have tried this before, I got a really cheap pair of walnut AEs off ebay and already had a pair in a similar color, so I tried darkening the new pair to more of a mid brown. It worked. Kinda. Well, darkening them worked, and they look nice enough that I will wear them fairly often, but the color does not have the depth and richness that all my other AEs (in their original color) have. Considering I paid less than $50 for the shoes I am happy with my experiment, but personally I would never do this to shoes I paid $200+ for unless I knew for sure i would never wear them in their original color and was not included to try and sell or give them away.
If you do go this route I highly recommend shoe cream over shoe polish and not trying to go more than a few shades darker than the original color.
Thanks for the continued feedback. I love AE, I grew up within 20 minutes of Port Washington so have always been drawn to those shoes first and foremost. Your situation sounds a lot like mine, my current shoes started out very uncomfortable, and although the leather has relaxed and they are better now, they have never been as comfortable as I would have wanted and expected. The vintage pair I inherited from my father are the most comfortable pair of shoes I have, so perhaps a different last or wider shoe is the answer. Unfortunately, I now don't live within a reasonable distance of a store that carries a wide variety of AEs, so I may need to put my search on hold until I'm able to do a bit of traveling.
No problem. If you order off the website they have free shipping and are really good with returns or exchanges, obviously not as ideal as trying them on in store though and to get something in your price range you will probably have to shop the clearance section or wait for a good sale (but that is what I normally do with AE anyway).