A Fine Man Once Said:

"Part of the 10 million I spent on gambling, part of it on booze, and part of it on women. The rest I spent foolishly."

- George Raft

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Meermin's "10164" Semi-Brogue Shoe

One of An Uptown Dandy's earliest followers was Pepe Albaladejo, founder of Meermin Shoes (you can view the website here and the tumblr page here). The scion of a family that has long been associated with Mallorca's well-known shoe-making tradition, Mr. Albaladejo has carved out an impressive niche by producing a line of shoes that offer great value at very competitive prices.

Mr. Albaladejo was kind enough to send me a pair of semi-brogue shoes for review - referred to as model 10164, in light brown calf leather on the New Rey last. This model is part of Meermin's Linea Maestro, or Master Line, which is described as being made to "handwelted goodyear" standards. What follows, then, are my initial thoughts and impressions regarding construction, leather quality, etc. I say "initial" as I've yet to wear these out on the street, and so will follow-up at some point in the future after a few wears.

I was pleasantly surprised by several aspects of the semi-brogue shoe. The leather quality seemed surprisingly sturdy yet supple, and the light brown calf leather had an intriguing richness of color, with subtle distinctions in tone along the uppers which suggests a lovely patina should develop over time. The stitching shows no obvious blemishes and the broguing has been darkened to give the shoe an "antiqued" effect.  All in all, I was most impressed with the leather uppers, and would compare them favorably to my Crockett & Jones bench-grade shoes.

The sole of the shoe is equally impressive. The waist is only lightly bevelled but features a very narrow cut that really accentuates the elegance of the New Rey last. I was initially concerned that it would be too narrow for my foot, but after discussing sizing with Mr. Albaladejo, he recommended a size EU 9.5E which turned out to be spot-on. The shoe fit quite well at the heel and the toe box. To be honest, I was surprised at how comfortable my feet felt in what I thought would be a tight fit. I'm very interested to see how the shoes actually feel while wearing.

Most people aren't terribly concerned about the sole but this one is quite nice to look at. The two-tone color scheme, combined with the narrow waist and natural sole edge, complements the light-brown calf leather uppers nicely. The rounded nail head pattern along the toe of the sole is also a nice touch.

I should also point out how well-balanced the semi-brogue is on the New Rey last. The captoe definitely features a smart, rounded last that is elongated without being pointy - a subtle difference which many shoemakers apparently fail to comprehend. But the proportions are well-done on this shoe and on par, in my opinion, with Edward Green's Falkirk on the 82 last or G&G's Rothschild on the DG70. Simply put, it is very well done.


One potential issue that I identified only after looking over the shoes several times was what appeared to be a crack along the middle of the heel on the right shoe. I'm not entirely sure whether this is a superficial scratch along the heel edge, but it appears to run along almost the entire circumference of the heel (and is much more obvious along the outer edge on the right side of the shoe).When I pull down on the bottom of the heel, you can actually see that the crack runs along the inside of the heel as well (along the waist of the sole). On this point, I will reserve judgment until I've worn the shoes - it may not have any effect whatsoever so could be a purely cosmetic issue. Should it develop into something more problematic, Mr. Albaladejo has offered to send a replacement heel.

Unfortunately, this seems to speak to a larger issue of quality control which customers have commented upon previously. Obviously, the paying customer will most likely take issue with such a defect  - and he/she should have every right to do so. That being said, my understanding is that Meermin addresses such issues in an honest and forthright manner, which is to be commended. Nevertheless, a tightening up of the quality control function would probably be best in order to avoid these situations entirely.


To summarize, I was most impressed with the craftsmanship, leather quality, design, and proportions of the 10164 semi-brogue model. At 260 euros, this Linea Maestro offering provides exceptional quality comparable to Alden or Crockett & Jones' bench-grade at a fraction of the cost. While quality control remains a problem at Meermin (most likely due to increased demand for the Classic, Linea Maestro, and Cordovan offerings), issues such as the one described above have ultimately been resolved to the buyer's satisfaction.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Weekend Odds & Ends

Just a few odds and ends that I thought I'd throw out there in between "real" posts:

I've been receiving a ton of emails from readers and fans of An Uptown Dandy lately - please keep it coming! I really enjoy seeing some of the vintage finds out there and (with your permission of course) posting for others to ogle as well... I'd also encourage you all to become followers of An Uptown Dandy! The follower count has remained doggedly static for some time but I know you're out there :-)

On an unrelated note, I've also posted a few items for sale on eBay - primarily shirts that are in very good condition which I just don't wear due to sizing issues ( ie they don't fit me). Also a few ties. I'd be happy to do a deal outside of eBay for readers, so please don't hesitate to reach out!

You can view the auctions here:


Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Shine & Co. - One Helluva Shine!

Kevin Tuohy of A Shine & Co.

Taking a short break from ogling the sheer variety of men's clothing, accessories, and shoes on display led to one of the most pleasant experiences that I had while at the MRket trade show.

Saphyr, the makers of some truly amazing shoe care products, set up a shine stand that was manned by two gurus, Kevin Tuohy (Founding Partner) and KeaLani Lada (Managing Partner, Sales/Marketing East Coast) of A Shine & Co. Last year, Vanity Fair bestowed the title of "world's best shoeshine" on this outfit and, based on my experience the other day, they're certainly a worthy contender for that title.

Exhibiting an intimate knowledge of leather care, particularly how to polish areas of the shoe to accentuate or heighten the burnishing (note: a bit of black polish helped to do just that on my Edward Green Brendons for Ralph Lauren's Purple Label (basically a Dover boot with 3-blind eyelets that you can see here), Ms. Lada took me to school on how to give my shoes a great shine by using a variety of colored polishes. Needless to say, I think she may have cured me of my embarrassing over-reliance on Saphyr's Renovateur and Neutral polish.

A Shine & Co. is based out of San Francisco, with locations that include the Bank of America building and the Crocker Galleria. The lone New York outpost is way out at JFK Airport - sadly too far for me to venture out to regularly - but I already find myself offering rides to the airport to casual acquaintances. Aside from B. Nelson on 55th street, I don't know of anyone else using Saphyr for shines here in New York City - so that alone would easily put A Shine & Co. a few notches above the competition here.

Contemplating the utter lack of decent shoe shine options in midtown, Ms. Lada mentioned that Will Boehlke of A Suitable Wardrobe was a regular back in San Francisco, and its really not hard to see why (you can read his review of A Shine & Co. here). With three locations for Will to choose from, I'll just quietly simmer with envy as I wait for an outpost to reach the shores of Manhattan . . .


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A Trip to MRket

I was fortunate enough to receive a guest pass to the MRket NY men's trade show held at the Javits Center here in New York City. Billed as an event where the men's industry comes together, the show can best be described as a global fashion show for discerning menswear brands. With companies from both the US and abroad, the MRket show is unique in that it houses a "Made In Italy" section (sponsored by the Italian Trade Commission) as well as a UK Design area. There are also brands from France, Germany, Spain & Sweden.

The Borsalino booth in the "Made In Italy" section

With so many wonderful items on display, one could literally spend hours just walking the aisles. Which I did, but several artisans were gracious enough to take a few moments out of their busy days to their craft, the state of the industry, as well as the plunging temperatures here in the frigid Northeast.  Over the next few weeks, I'll be posting a comments and notes on some of these conversations - with a few pictures thrown in for good measure to keep things interesting!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

LAST Magazine Issue 3 - Be Elegant

The new LAST magazine continues to impress. Of course, with so few titles dedicated entirely to high-end men's shoes, the bar isn't set terribly high. However, judging on content alone, LAST magazine is really worth a look for shoe aficionados. Even with the language barrier, the magazine explores such a wide range of shoes from such a wide variety of countries, so its good to have just for reference.

Issue No. 3 explores selected "elegant" shoes. Based on the representative models included in the issue, the editors must have felt that black calf leather is synonymous with elegance (and not undertakers). Despite my love of all shoes brown, I can still appreciate the offerings on display (and there are some brown and suede models here).

Issues 1-3 are currently available at Kinokuniya in New York City.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Gaziano & Girling's Rothschild via Bespoke England

Gaziano & Girling have amassed quite a following during the company's short existence. I had shied away from the shoes only because I knew that my patience would be sorely tested by the usual 8-12 week waiting period for the company's ready-to-wear models. I had admired the Rothschild, G&G's wingtip offering, from afar for some time but the lag time always dissuaded me from making the purchase.

I finally decided bite the bullet and order a pair - wait time be damned. After reading so many positive reviews of the service at Bespoke England, I called Nick A. to inquire about size and availability. As I expected, Nick indicated that the wait would be about 8-12 weeks. He was also extremely helpful regarding sizing, based on my sizing in other brands such as EG, Lobb, and C&J. After confirming my order for a pair of Rothschilds in vintage chestnut on the DG70 last (with extra burnishing on the toe box), I settled in for the long wait after convincing myself that this would be the ultimate Christmas gift to myself.

Then things took an unexpected turn for the better. After only a few days, Nick emailed with an update - the shoe would be ready in about 6 weeks. Great news, I thought. The shoes would arrive before Christmas, but I wasn't complaining. But it got better - a few days after that, Nick emailed again to let me know that he had just been around to the G&G factory and the shoes were basically ready, but for a last bit of finishing! I'm still not sure exactly what happened, but the end result was a pair of G&G Rothschilds which took about two weeks to arrive at my door after my initial email to Nick.

As for the shoes, well, to put it simply: they are incredible. The vintage chestnut color is exquisite, as is the extra burnishing on the toe cap. The sole-work is quite impressive, and the variety of bespoke details on a ready-to-wear put G&G ahead just about every other English shoemaker. If I had to nitpick, I would say that I find the lasts just a bit too pointy or elongated. Personally, I would have to say that I prefer Edward Green's 888 last or John Lobb's 7000. But this is a minor quibble, as the DG70 is a unique round-toe last with its own distinct silhouette, and is well-worth adding to your collection.

Finally, a heartfelt thank you to Nick Anderson at Bespoke England, an absolutely pleasure to meet and work with. Nick has a wealth of knowledge that is at your service when choosing a model that will suit your needs and fit you perfectly.

PS The best lasted trees on the market for ready-to-wear shoes? Quite possibly.