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.
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.