Meermin Brown Suede Oxford & Black Derby Dress Shoes — In-Depth Review
With the advent of direct to consumer, online and vertically integrated companies, there has been a revolution in the men’s high(er) end dress shoe world. While it used to be that there was a significant gap between a solid quality shoe and something of… let’s just say lesser quality, now, that gap has been filled. Instead of it being about $100 (or less) for a mediocre-at-best shoe or $400+ for a great shoe, you can now get a very, very good shoe for about $200-$300. And this is a huge deal, too, because that jump from $100 to $200 can more than double the quality of the shoe. Companies like Jack Erwin, Beckett Simonon, Thursday Boots, and many others have made a real name for themselves providing quite high quality shoes at previously unheard of prices — the $200-$300 range. And, as time has gone on, more and more companies like them have sprouted up.
One of these companies is Meermin. They’ve been around for a while, actually, but since they have always been an overseas, European country, they have never had much traction in the US. Many consider them to be a more affordable, and sleeker alternative to Allen Edmonds. They offer the same sorts of shoes, a very high quality build, all sorts of wonderful leather options, textures, and colors, but are priced at about half the price of Allen Edmonds. Plus, the shoes are built sleeker and on more modern lasts, giving them an overall nicer and more appealing silhouette.
The trouble has always been that shipping from Meermin costs $35+ to ship to America, and you’re on your own for returns, which, to send them back overseas, could cost… well… quite a bit of money. This made most guys too nervous to even try Meermin, as, if the shoes didn’t work out, it would still cost you well, well upwards of $50. That is no small proposition. Recently, though, Meermin announced some good news. They opened up a showroom in NYC, and, henceforth, anyone in the US can mail their returns to this store as opposed to overseas. This means that, naturally, the return shipping cost would be significantly lower, reducing the “risk” cost substantially. All of this adds up to us needing to give Meermin a spin for ourselves, and see what all the hype is all about. We ordered the Meermin Black Calf Derby ($175) and the Brown Suede Oxford ($175).
Packaging & Experience
Shipping, surprisingly, was pretty quick. Despite shipping from Spain, the shoes only took a couple of days to arrive, so, kudos on that. They come via DHL, of course, and shipping still costs that whopping $35, though if you order more than a couple pairs, it’s even more. The shoes came in a standard cardboard box, and the shoe box themselves were a nice light brown. Included as well were very nice, quality dust bags — much nicer than many other company’s dust bags we have seen. We did, as you will see, end up returning these shoes, which costed us an additional $12 to mail to their store in NYC. We are based in NY, though, so if you are farther, the cost would obviously be more. $47 to try two pairs of shoes is super high, and, really, unjustifiable. Their customer service is good, and the chat on their site is quite responsive and quick. But, that shipping and return situation is (while understandable, I guess, considering the shoes come from Spain) hands down the most expensive we have ever experienced from any company, and, off the bat, makes the shoes somewhat hard to recommend. C+
Style & Design
Meermin makes really, really, really nice shoes. Period, end. They have a wide variety, in varying styles and colors, and just about any classic style shoe you could want, Meermin offers. They have wonderful regular leather, as well as suede offerings, and most styles of shoe are available on different lasts, so if you prefer a more elongated toe versus a rounder one, or vice versa, you should find something to make you happy either way. All of their shoes are quite sleek and modern, without being too sleek or modern. Nothing is pointy or cheesy looking. Everything is just so damn tasteful. Paging through Meermin’s site would make any shoe lover drool. They make some amazingly nice shoes that all look super well shaped and designed. For our review, we went with two shoes, a black derby and dark brown, almost chocolate suede oxford. Both shoes were made on different lasts, and so had somewhat different appearances. In person, the shoes wore just a tad bit heftier than they appear on the site, though still overall appear quite sleek and good-looking. The black derby (a favorite of classic James Bond) is a super versatile shoe that classes up just about any more formal suiting outfit. The black is pretty rich and deep, and the subtlety rounded, nor pointy toe box is perfect for this sort of shoe. While I might have preferred two eyelets as opposed to three, the shoe is still plenty sleek and streamlined. If you would look up “shoe” in a dictionary, this is the sort of picture you might find there. It’s a classic design that they really stayed true to and did a good job with. The brown oxford is equally lovable, and is the perfect addition to a jeans + blazer look, not to mention a perfect pairing with a navy suit. The oxford style makes it a bit more dressy than a blucher, while the suede brown gives them the perfect touch of the casual.The toe box on this model is less rounded than others that Meermin offers, and I picked it on purpose for that reason. It’s a bit sleeker and more elongated, and makes for, in my opinion, and overall cleaner (though a bit less classic) look. Again, there is a bit more heft and thickness to the profile of these shoes than you might think from looking just at the site, but they still remain pretty sleek as far as these sort of shoes are concerned. And both shoes have a classic, standard leather sole, though options for other soles abound on the site.
Personally, I prefer my shoes with a bit more of an Italian, slimmer sensibility. These shoes are like a more refined/modern Alden or Allen Edmonds while I have always loved the super sleek designs of Santoni shoes as my ideal, superlative shoe silhouette. If you are like me, while Meermin is certainly closer than many other brands, it’s not quite that style, though this is by design. These shoes are a bit heftier than Italian shoe-making, and thus a bit less sleek and slim. This is neither good nor bad, but instead a matter of preference.
The truth is that at this price, shoes this sleek and well designed are almost impossible to find. It’s really that simple. A
Quality & Construction
The overall make of these shoes is not going to blow anyone away. Still, at this price point, they are super, super impressive. The mere fact that they are Goodyear welted alone is quite amazing at this price point (though, as discussed above, does lend the shoe to a slightly thicker and heftier appearance). This means that the shoe can easily be restored and resoled for years and years of wear to come. The leather of the shoe upper is fine, but nothing incredible. The suede brown came with slight imperfections in the leather (that can likely be corrected or brushed out to some extent, though these sorts of minor imperfections is likely where Meermin saves on their costs as far as quality control is concerned; as I always say, the cost needs to come from somewhere), while the black creased pretty prominently after just one short wear around my home. Additionally, the laces feel okay, but could for sure be of higher quality. These are no waxed Allen Edmonds laces, that is for sure.
Still, the overall feel of both of these shoes is one of quality. They feel like they will last a great many wears, and, as stated, can always be easily resoled. The leather looks great overall, and is without hesitation some of the best I have seen on a pair of shoes at this price, though is also not in the same league as something from Allen Edmonds, Alden, or others in the higher tier price points. This is naturally to be expected, but it is important to point out. A-
I was a bit disappointed here. I usually wear a size 11.5 in most any shoe I buy. If I follow the company’s fit instructions for what equivalent to purchase, I usually do just fine. Not so with Meermin. Both of these shoes fit much too small on me. Following Meermin’s chart, I ordered a UK/Meermin size 10.5. This was much too small. I would need at least a half size up, and perhaps a full size up, though, of course, the bigger the shoe gets, the less sleek it looks. In truth, I am not sure how great of a fit Meermin is for my feet — at least not these particular lasts. I feel like if I got the toes to be comfortable, there would be much too much room on the sides. Then again, who knows? I would love to try again, but not for another $50. My recommendation, though, as it stands is to size up half a size in Meermin shoes. I think that is your best bet if you’re interested in ordering from them. B-
Value & Conclusion
Meermin Black Calf Derby — $175: There is not a single doubt in my mind: Spending $175 for a pair of shoes from Meermin is almost an infinitely better investment than spending $100 on a pair of shoes from DSW, or something. Meermin shoes will last longer, can be easily resoled, and will provide you a better, classier, and higher quality overall look. Still, there is some heavy competition in this price range, and with the shipping and return costs at Meermin, they are hard to recommend without that serious reservation. Needless to say, if it should ever get to the point that those shipping costs are reduced or removed, Meermin would be, hands down, one of the best places to get a pair of shoes for $175. At that price, the value is tremendous and almost unrivaled. Once you factor in another $35 for shipping, and potential returns, there are other companies out there that might equally lay claim to being the best at that price range. And, then, there are those that would prefer Allen Edmonds seconds, or even very much are fine with paying full retail for regular Allen Edmonds and for a certain higher quality. And that is all fine too. But, in this day and age, spending closer to $200 on a pair of dress shoes will go so much farther than spending half that (or less), and will give you a wonderful, very high quality pair of shoes, that will last more than double whatever you were buying at half the price. The end result is shoes that will save you money in the long run, and make you look better while doing it. With that in mind, Meermin is definitely a solid place to consider. Final Grade: B+