For some time now, I have been hearing and reading about this brand called Meermin Mallorca. It would have appeared that not long ago they had just popped onto the scene and had been making major headway, with lots of talk about them through the forums and blogs of the shoe industry. This obviously had piqued my interest, but not so much to really do something about it. But then, a few of you indicated that you wanted to know more about them, and clearly looked at me for that information. As I write this blog for all of you, I decided to try and do something about it and get a shoe so that I could review the quality and details of it. Now, I am not usually in the habit of asking for stuff for free, but as my days get closer and closer to launching my own line, I simply cannot justify spending money that I need (for rent and my business) on other brand's shoes. I therefore wrote up Mr. Pepe Albaladejo, explained to him my situation and he kindly agreed to send me a pair (of Linea Maestro's) so that I could review for all of you, which I found to be very nice of him.
Upon receiving my shoes, I can tell you that I was already pleased with the box that they provided with the shoes. One might not think about it, but subconsciously a box and it's presentation is quite important and I must say that they packaged it in a way that was nothing short of elegant. The shoes came nicely shined, which indicates good attention to detail and handwork.....and yet another good sign. The only thing that I found strange was that there was one shoe bag instead of two. Maybe it was an oversight? Nevertheless, I was happy with the presentation of it all. I then went on to review the shoe and all of the little details of it. Upon first sight, it looked like a brilliant shoe of good quality and decent attention to detail and in reality it was, only that there were a few minor things that could have been improved. The stitching everywhere, from the welt/sole to the upper was good and free from crooked errors. The finishing on the waist, sole and heel was good, somewhere between a C&J benchgrade and handgrade. Everything big and easily noticeable was good.
Now, the things that could have been improved on were the fact that on both shoes the welt clearly showed where it started and ended (see below), which means that they did not do a great job of gluing it. In theory this should not affect anything as it has been stitched down, but it's not that nice to look at. Another thing was that the right shoe was quite off balance. This for me, is again something that is not that important (not at this price at least) unless it makes the shoes uncomfortable, but I do know that some people hold this to a high standard. Other than these two aesthetic flaws, the shoe was great and definitely looked as if it was worth more than it's €260 (£210, $335) price tag. I then wore the shoe for a day and found it to be extremely comfortable. There was no discomfort in breaking them in and the leather seemed to be of tip top quality, as I got the shoes soaked in London showers and after they dried it was as if nothing happened! In reality, there was nothing bad about this shoe, nothing that would make me want to warn any of you. In fact, for the price that the shoe retails at, it was WELL worth every penny and a whole lot more.
Now for those that don't really know much about Meermin, allow me to explain a little bit. You may have noticed that the owner, Mr. Pepe Albaladejo shares the same surname as the owners of Carmina. This leads most people to believe that they are somehow associated, when in fact the only association between them is ancestry. They have nothing to do with each other and go about things in very different ways. While both brands seemed to have wanted to create the best shoe at the best possible price, Meermin took an approach that was quite different and more risky. What he did was find a workshop/factory in China, went to train them up in order for them to hand-last and hand-welt every shoe in his production. Then once the soles are ready to be put on, they send the shoes back to Spain to have it done on the machines. So in theory, half of the shoe is constructed by hand, but done so in China. This might throw some people off, but if the quality of the work is good, it should not really matter where it was done, so long as it is done right. And because the labor in China is much lower than anywhere else, this allows for Meermin to control his prices and offer something much lower than most, for a shoe that is handgrade and even more. Good business? I think so.....
So, the verdict is that Meermin Mallorca Linea Maestro shoes are very good and definitely worth the price and so much more. I wish them all the best and hope that for all of you that were pondering a pair, that this post has given you what you need to now pull the trigger!