About the author: Chris (aka Bruschetta) is an America-born university researcher and teacher based in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as a moderator on Threads. His sense of style is inspired by a childhood dressed in Ivy league trad, and the fact that he is enormously well bred.
Meermin Mallorca is a Spanish shoe company that has made waves in the style community over the past three years thanks to its sleek, contemporary style (more contemporary than Allen Edmonds), relatively budget-friendly prices, and the fact that they use Goodyear welt construction. The shoes are reportedly made partially in China and then finished in Spain. The company initially experienced growing pains in the form of slow shipping times, quality control complaints, and poor customer service, but these days they seem to receive almost universal praise.
There’s a catch though. For those not in Spain or Portugal, you need to pop for international shipping. For those on the U.S. side of the Atlantic, that works out to 35 euros. That’s $45 – $50. That’s non refundable, and you’re on the hook for return shipping too. That’s scary.
Meermin recently launched a new Fall/Winter collection along with an attractive new website. As Dappered’s European correspondent, I was assigned to test-drive a pair of Meermin’s suede wingtips from their less expensive, “classic” line. That way, any return-shipping charge risks would be mitigated. At least a little.
The ordering process on Meermin’s website is unexpectedly antiquated. Meermin’s website functions like a reservation system rather than a shopping cart. The checkout process asks for a customer’s contact information, but no payment is requested. Instead, Meermin sends the customer an email with an invoice once the shoes are ready to ship. For some the wait can be a month or longer.
This is not the shopping cart you’re looking for… (because there is none)
Luckily, the suede wingtips I requested were in stock. Even so, it took over a week of exchanging emails before the payment was finalized and the shoes were shipped. A simple shopping cart would have saved both Meermin and their customers a lot of time and hassle. On the positive side, I found the people at Meermin to be helpful and responsive throughout the process.
Presentation on arrival is nice. They arrived in a Meermin-branded shoe box and wrapped neatly in protective tissue paper. These little details immediately gave off a good impression. Unfortunately, once the tissue paper came off, thing started to sour a bit.
My first thought upon seeing the Meermin brogues was that the shoes had somehow been damaged. The uppers and backs of both shoes appeared to be stained by a white substance. Dried white glue was visible in most of the brogue holes, and a drop had solidified on the front behind the wing tip. Additionally, there were small patches where the suede had been worn through to reveal a black layer beneath, and the nap on the toes looked like it had been scraped down.
Noticeable, white-ish, discoloration out of the box.
I quickly discovered that the stains were actually a white substance that, when combined with the natural contrast of suede that had been brushed against the grain, created highly visible white spots. A quick brushing with a soft horsehair brush did the trick of disposing of the white powdery substance, and the suede gained the uniform dark brown tone that I had expected based on the pictures on Meermin’s product page.
Unfortunately, the uniformity did not last long. The rapello suede is extremely prone to spotting. The slightest touch causes a visible imprint in the suede that resembles a blemish. My overall impression of the suede is that it’s low quality, and it’s a shame because the shoes have so much going for them.
Annoyingly, the dried white glue remained stuck in the brogue holes; it did not come off with my light brushing.
The wingtips are built on Meermin’s Hiro last, a shape that Meermin describes as a classic round toe with a standard fit. I found the shape of the shoes to be highly elegant and handsome. It’s truly a classic, beautiful last. The Hiro last is on the narrower side of Meermin’s last chart, and the shoes felt a little cramped despite my slightly narrow feet.
Stitching, pattern uniformity, and design are great. But the overall execution?
As far as comfort, the footbed was hard and inflexible. I would have concerns about wearing the shoes for any great length of time.
The stitching on the shoes was surprisingly well crafted. I did not notice a single fault in the stitching on either pair of shoes, and that’s amazing at this price range. Furthermore, the wingtip pattern that Meermin uses is almost perfectly proportioned to my eyes. The brogue holes are immaculately spaced and punched through, and the pattern is followed identically on both shoes.
Meermin is frequently criticized for their email support, but my experience was entirely positive. Sandro at Meermin responded to all of my emails quickly, and he immediately offered a full refund when I said that I was unhappy with the shoes.
These shoes have a lot of potential, but that potential is held back by what appears to be poor quality of suede. The craftsmanship and style are what most would expect on a far more expensive shoe, but the materials just don’t hold up to the same standard. It was disappointing to instantly notice visible defects that should have prevented them from being sold as first quality shoes. The scraped toes, dried glue, and patches of scraped rough leather are just not acceptable at this price.
Perhaps this pair, this particular pair, was just a dud.
Return shipping, from Scotland to Spain, was £21.58. That’s $36. And that’s on top of the $26.80 (20 euros) in original, non-refundable shipping charges. Remember, it’s more like $40-$50 (35 euros) in original shipping if you’re in the states, and probably even more to send them back.
Again. That’s scary.
Anyone have experience with Meermin? Was it a smoother go for you? Or is this just all too risky? Leave your thoughts in the comments…