Meermin Shoes: Linea Maestro Shell Cordovan Split Toe Oxfords
#Menswear has been much abuzz over the last year or so around all things Meermin. Meermin is a shoe company based out of Mallorca, a Spanish island in the Mediterranean not too far off the eastern coast of Spain. Meermin Shoes is based out of the Mallorcan municipality of Inca, which has an especially rich history of shoemaking.
There has been much speculation in the webosphere about the relationship between Carmina and Meermin, and the proprietor of Meermin, Pepe Albaladejo, clarified things for me a bit by saying both shoe businesses are run by members of the same family (not an uncommon trade for a Mallorcan family, as noted above), but design, production, etc., are fully separate between the two companies.
What has garnered the most attention for Meermin, however, is their company philosophy of producing Goodyear Welted and Norvegesse Welted shoes at very reasonable price points. Meermin offers an incredible Made-To-Order (MTO) program that allows for massive amounts of customization, and the fruits of these collaborations have been spread far and wide across the #menswear blogosphere, but fewer reports of the more affordable Ready-To-Wear (RTW) Meermin shoes have been circulating around those same parts.
Pepe was generous enough to offer me a pair of RTW Meermins for review, and I chose the burgundy shell cordovan split toe Oxford, model #101400-D. As you can see from the pictures above, the packaging of the shoes is quite nice, and the shoes come with a nice cotton shoe bag with leather logo patch, and some additional foam padding in the box to snugly secure the shoes for shipment. The presentation is on par with Tricker’s, Alden, and many other fine shoe brands that I’ve seen.
The shoes I chose are built on the Rui last, which is a fairly straightforward last that is neither aggressively elongated with a nipped waist, nor stubby and wide declaring it unfit for dressier occasions. It is a fine middle-of-the-road last that makes for an incredibly versatile shoe that can be easily dressed up or down. I was told by Pepe that Meermin will be introducing a new rounder last to their Linea Maestro lineup soon as well.
My first impressions upon taking the shoes out of the box were that they were incredibly well finished, and that both the exterior and interior of the shoes had been manufactured with great care. The stitching is even and solid throughout, and the Dainite-style rubber soles looks like they will handle the rainy season with aplomb. I was pleasantly surprised once I put the shoes on with how comfortable they felt from the get go; the shell cordovan is robust but pliable, and I foresee very few problems with break in time, though your mileage may vary.
One of the reasons Meermin is able to keep their prices down is that although all their shoes are started and finished in Mallorca, some shoes have a significant portion of their construction completed in China. Despite the knee-jerk reaction of many in #menswear that everything produced in China must, by definitional fiat, be of poor quality, I was assured by Pepe that the oversight of their Chinese production is tight, and that the Chinese men and women who work on Meermin shoes are now master shoemakers in their own right. If my shoes are anything to judge this claim by, I would say that Pepe is quite right.
The prices for Meermin’s two RTW lines, the Classic Collection and Linea Maestro (if you’re buying in the U.S. or other places outside of the EU, you can subtract the 21% VAT from the prices listed on Meermin’s website) range from about $165 USD for plain calf Classic Collection shoes, up to about $375 for the Linea Maestro Norvegesse welted shoes (these prices reflect the subtracted VAT). Shipping to the U.S. for between 1-2 pairs of shoes is about $45. That puts a pair of Classic Collection double monks at about $210 shipped to your door in you live in the U.S., which is certainly competitive with other ‘lower range’ Goodyear welted shoes from the likes of Allen Edmonds, Johnston & Murphy, etc., and you may find the styles offered by Meermin to be more fashion-forward and #menswear appropriate, though they have plenty of more sober business-appropriate styles as well.
The price differential between Meermin’s two lines is to be found in the more significant handwork and higher quality leathers on the Linea Maestro shoes. Linea Maestro shoes are handwelted and handlasted, whereas Classic Collection shoes are machine Goodyear welted. The finishing on the Linea Maestro shoes is a touch above the Classic Collection as well. The Classic Collection uses Vegano calf, French calf from Tanneries Du Puy, English tannery Charles F. Stead’s Rapello suede, and French Karangrain and Nantes grain calf. The Linea Maestro line uses ultra-high quality hides like black Freudenberg calf from Weinheimer Leder tannery, Naturcalf from Anonnay Tannery in France, Januscalf suede from Charles F. Stead, Sacpa calf from Sacpa Tannery in Italy, and shell cordovan from Argentina (perhaps from ANCA, which is, to my knowledge, the Argentinian supplier for Tricker’s shell cordovan needs).
When I asked Pepe what plans were in the works for the future of Meermin he assured me that the company’s primary goal is to continue to offer high-quality products at great price points, but that eager customers can be on the lookout for the opening of some Meermin stores in the U.S. and Europe. I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for movement on that development!
Thanks again to Pepe Albaladejo for his graciousness and generosity, and for giving of his valuable and very spare time in answering some questions for this post! Though ecommerce isn’t up and running on Meermin’s site yet, if you’re interested in any of their shoes all you need to do is use the contact function on the website to begin the ordering process and you will hear back from them swiftly.