I love the feel of the fabric as well. I wouldn't mind trying a new ring sling but want a woven type fabric. I've always had success with the shoulder pleating with the Maya. Any other brands similar you would recommend that I may be missing out on?
I've used both. They have their pluses and minuses. The old style was nice because it capped your shoulder, but if you were left-handed (which I am), it had to be threaded differently and could be slightly weird. Also, I find that a non-padded shoulder tends to bind up the arm that it is on---if you tighten the bottom rail it cinches the shoulder down too. The new padded shoulder is nice and cushy. A little bulkier, but not really a big deal. It tends to slide around a bit, but I like the fact that it doesn't pin my arm down nearly as much.
Hope that helps! :) I just bought a used bright stripes--I adore that pattern and had it in the unpadded version for my older son. Now I have the padded one for my little guy! :)
Glad it helped! One more thing I just thought of--I tend to wear my son on the back of my hip (to free up my arm) when I'm working, and the padded Maya is SO much better for that. In an unpadded sling, the rings press painfully into my collar bone, and I end up having to shove part of the tail between me and the rings as padding, which looks silly and bunches up. I don't have that issue at all with my padded Maya. Also, my old Mayas didn't have the zippered pocket, which comes in handy to throw in an extra pair of training pants/diaper! :)
Good luck in your search. I found mine at http://www.thebabywearer.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?187-FSOT-Ring-Slings-and-Pouches :)
I feel like with the padded I had to have it at just the right spot so that after putting in babe and tightening it was comfortable. With my unpadded there was so much more forgiveness for finding the sweet spot. But with my second baby I switched to a Girasol after I couldn't get either maya to adjust properly with a newborn, and oh my gosh they are heaven. The shoulder is gathered and it is just a dream to spread. Perfect shoulder every time. I now have 3 Girasols. My mayas have been relegated to trunk duty in case I ever forget to grab one of the others.