Meermin. It is the upstart shoe company out of Mallorca Spain that has garnered so much attention and discussion on various forums and blogs. Most of which has been praise and talk of ‘too good to be true.’ I had to find out for myself. If you’re too lazy to read all of my thoughts here’s the gist: Meermin a damn good deal for your money, perhaps the best out there.
The good people at Meermin and myself started chatting and Pepe Albaladejo (who is a great customer serviceman and of the same Albaladejo family as Carmina, but the companies themselves are not related), who heads the company, was nice enough to offer me a pair of their Linea Maestro brogued captoes for review. I also wanted to review a pair from the Classic Collection so I purchased the light brown suede whole cuts. Part of the reason for reviewing both was that I have noticed that there is a lot of debate (mostly on StyleForum) as to whether the Linea Maestro shoes are worth the extra money. In short, I would say yes. Both lines of shoes are made in the same factories in Asia and Spain but the raw materials, construction and finishing differ between the two. But anyway, let’s get into the details, begin with the suede wholecut, we shall.
The brown suede wholecut is a beautiful shoe. It hails from Meermin’s Classic Collection, which is the less expensive of the two lines, at 160euro/pair (or roughly $205). The shoe comes on Meermin’s Ama last, which is of a classic and elegant shape. I wear a US10/UK9 and opted for a UK9, on Pepe’s recommendation, and the fit is spot on. The shape is much more elegant than what Allen Edmonds and Alden put out, that is, the toe box is narrower and not so bulbous. Generally the shoe is much less clunky looking, reminding me more of nicer English makers like Crockett & Jones. In short, the shoe has a very classic and flattering shape, I’ll let the pictures do the talking on that point and you can make your own judgements.
The suede leather of the upper is soft in both feel and appearance, the way it should be. The leather comes from Charles F Stead, a renowned tannery in the UK. The texture is consistent across the entire shoe, which is crucial. Thus far, the upper has broken in quite nicely. The sole is Good Year welted, which is rare for a shoe in this price range. As with all Good Year welted shoes the sole started out a bit stiff, however, after a few wears it has begun to soften up and it will continue to do so over time. The stitching around the sole is channeled, meaning that it is hidden as opposed to exposed. I have heard arguments in favor of both types of stitching, personally, I am indifferent as they both have pros and cons. But what is important is that the stitching on the top side of the sole is clean and consistent. One of the beautiful things about a wholecut is is that there is no stitching on the upper. However, this is unfortunate for purposes of this review, as I cannot speak for the stitching quality of the upper. But I have heard largely good things on the subject from other sources and photos.
The Linea Maestro shoes are a step up in both quality and price. The brogue captoe retails for 260euro (or $365 which is right around Allen Edmonds), which is par for the course for the Linea Maestro line. The leather of the shoe in question is from Germany’s Weinheimer Leder tannery, another renowned tannery. The Linea Maestro shoes only come on the New Rey last, which is more pointed than any of the lasts in the Classic Collection. And to be honest, a little more pointed than I typically prefer. But it is not so pointed to the point that it would seriously detract from the aesthetic of the shoe. But again, this is just a personal preference. The entire last is also narrower, on Pepe’s recommendation I acquired a UK9.5 (please note that this is a half size higher than I got for the Classic Line shoe, I recommend you consult with Pepe before deciding on your sizes). The fit is quite snug, and over a few wears is now very comfortable. In contrast to the Classic Collection, the Linea Maestro shoes are hand welted. There are minor differences in the two methods which we will not delve into here. But the quality of a hand welt is no less than that of a Good Year welt. Most importantly, hand welting allows the shoe to be resoled for years to come (the same can be said for Good Year welting). Not present in the Classic Collection but present in the Linea Maestro’s is a slightly beveled waist, which I think ups the level of elegance. The overall shape of the shoe is very clean and streamlined, reminding me of brands like Alfred Sargent and Gaziano & Girling.
The upper of the Linea Maestro shoe is exceptional for the price point. The best I have seen, actually. The stitching is uniform and tight. The brogueing is even and clean as well. The leather is soft and supple, thus far it has broken in well. Aside from the welting, higher quality finishing and leather on the upper serves to differentiate the Linea Maestro shoes from those from the Classic Collection. My only complaint about the upper is that the medallion on both shoes is slightly off center (as can be seen in photos below), namely, it is arranged slightly toward the inside of the foot. A majority of people would not notice this, especially those who are not wearing the shoes and it even slips my mind at times. But I still think that the medallions could be centered on the toe box a little better. Nonetheless, the finishing and aesthetic of the shoe is far beyond shoes of comparable price.
In conclusion, I give a strong ‘buy’ recommendation for Meermin shoes. Quite bullish on the brand I am, in fact. Although there are some minor flaws in the shoes they still present an exceptional value. The construction, leather and finishing on the shoes is something I would expect from shoes well above the price range that Meermin operates in. But really, the true test will come in a few years and the durability of the shoes can adequately be assessed. The shoes (and brand) are off to a strong start, however, so I have faith in the brand. Do they live up to the hype I have been reading about for months? Yes. So, I needn’t really say more than that.
Justin L Jeffers
Ordering Notes: If you are interested in purchasing shoes from Meermin I recommend using the Contact form on their website, as they do not yet have their e-commerce site established. Pepe is very helpful and very responsive. Two other things to take into account when ordering, first, if you are outside the EU the price of the shoes will be reduced by 21%, as you will not have to pay the VAT. However, shipping will cost 35euro ($45) for up to 2 pair.