Meermin Reviewed : The Best Affordable Goodyear Welt Shoes ft. 114409 Penny Loafer in Snuff Suede
Everyone seems to be in love with Meermin, many of which dubbing the Spanish based brand “the best value in Goodyear welted shoes” and so the Mensch had to get his hands on a pair to review! We’ll bee looking at their 11409 penny loafer in the new snuff colored suede.
Right off the bat, the shoes feel high quality the second you pick them up. At $180, they definitely have the look and feel of shoes way above their price point. The first thing to note though is that these are made in China as indicated by the “made in Shanghai” stamp on the tag. Clearly Meermin has picked a location where they can cut costs on the production of the shoes. Yet, a Goodyear welt is still a Goodyear welt, so in my opinion, as long as the shoes go through sufficient quality control, I don’t really mind that they are made in China. The stitching is all even and tight, and the sole finishing is beautiful due to the beautiful blind stitch that hides the Goodyear welt. Not only does it look smoother, albeit no one is really going to see the bottom of your sole, but the shoes will resist water since there are no channels for liquid to enter the bottom of the shoes. Of course, when the sole wears out, the stitching will be exposed; but if you put a rubber topper on the sole, it will retain its original finish.
The insole or footbed (whichever you’d like to call it) on this model is a leather covered foam. After speaking to Meermin directly on Instagram, they told me they don’t use cork on this pair since it would limit the weight and flexibility of the shoe. For those with sensitive feet who prefer a cushioned insole, this is the best of both worlds. You get the luxury of the leather lining with the comfort and weight of an athletic shoe. There is also an added cushioned heel cup that adds to the support (THANK YOU!) and extends to the arch of the foot. It will still require some breaking in since the foam will have to mold to your foot over time, but the process become a lot easier than with shoes of a stiff leather-and-cork insole found on my Allen Edmonds for example.
Last + Fit
I believe the biggest draw for Meermin is their massive selection of not only different style of shoe, but the different lasts they use as well. There are quite a few penny loafers available and each uses a different last. Thus, depending on your foot shape and needs, there is probably a pair of Meermin shoes that will work for you. In my case, I wanted something that will accommodate and lower instep and low and behold, the RON last on the 114409, is clearly made for a low instep as indicated on their last information page.
However, as many people have noted, sizing is a bit tricky. First off, the sizes are in UK not US which is understandable since the brand is based in Europe. So making sure you’re sizing is right could be problematic.
Meermin Sizing Advice
I am usually between a 9 and 9.5 in dress shoes, being a 9.5 in Allen Edmonds and 9 in more European lasted shoes. After reading a review by The Peak Lapel who noted the narrow feel, I decided to go down from my Allen Edmonds 9.5 size and go with the 8.5 Meermins. The fit is rather interesting. The toe box, despite having a more boxy fit, is still quite narrow. But due to the low vamp, there is still a large amount of slippage in the heel. I’m hoping that as I continue to break these in, I’ll create enough friction in the heel cup to wear down the calfskin lining and gain some grip there. I’m not convinced that sizing down would have solved the issue since the toe box is already pretty snug and the length of the shoe feels proportional to my foot.
As expected there is a bit of buckling in my left shoe, as my left foot is a tad smaller than my right, but nothing too bad. I could probably solve that with an arch support insert if I wanted to, but will probably avoid that for break-in. The right foot is close enough to being perfect.
The suede as described on their website is sourced from Italy, so it feels luxurious and looks wonderful. The snuff color is a perfect hue for Fall and I’m excited to match them with a number of different pant colors. There’s a decent amount of color variation but I totally don’t mind that at all. These are casual shoes and I don’t intend to baby them. And as I’ve heard time and time again from cobblers on YouTube, it’s one hundred percent natural for there to be slight blemishes and variation in leather so people should really refrain from being too anal about this issue.
I love the style of this penny loafer! The low vamp works great for casual outfits and slimmer pants. I think the shoes have a great balance of being sleek and low profile but the chunkier Goodyear welted sole makes these a bit more versatile. I plan to wear these most of the time with skinny jeans and socks. Of course, these will also be great sockless or with no show socks since they’re leather lined.
The penny slot on these penny loafers (the opening on the strap of penny loafers were originally used for stashing away pennies!) is more ovular than the traditionally triangular one. I think this also is a more casual look which is what I’m going for.
As many have noted on Reddit posts (and in a video by The Kavalier), a big issue for Meermin has been their return and exchange process which can be costly and lengthy shipping back to Spain for inspection. Since they now accept returns to their New York showroom (yay!) I would highly recommend ordering two sizes and sending a pair back to New York if that is a concern.
Overall I think Meermin absolutely lives up to the hype. For a Goodyear welted shoe under $200, if your expectations are reasonable, you won’t be disappointed. I think doing a lot of research and communicating with them to find out which last will be most accommodating for your foot is a great idea and a big advantage Meermin has over competitors. Additionally, if you have the chance to go get sized up in their showroom, that would probably be optimal as their sizing can be tricky. But once you have your size down, I can totally see why so many die-hard shoe enthusiasts seem to love Meermin!