Pepe Albaladejo (Meermin)

"New Rey last is the result of many years of work"

Pepe Albaladejo (Meermin)

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Pepe Albaladejo – Meermin

Why is Albaladejo family so in love with shoes?
Albaladejo family has been always involved in shoemaking since its origins. Albaladejo family came from a village called Inca in the island of Mallorca. Inca, had a huge shoemaking tradition in the past, and the Albaladejo family was one of the most representative ones.

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My grandfather found Yanko several years ago, company which became one of the most representatives on the shoemaking world on the late 80′s – early 90′s. Due to operational difficulties, Albaladejo family got out of Yanko. Out of Yanko, my father José & his brother Sandro founded Meermin, while the rest of members of the Albaladejo family founded Carmina Shoemaker.

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Since then, at Meermin, has been working exclusively for the Japanese market, and as suppliers of goodyear welted shoes for the UK & french armies, so because of that our brand is less known in Europe, the US or Australia.

Now we are also present in Spain with our first Store out of Japan, located at the 20 of Claudio Coello St. in Madrid.

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When did you start the business first and how did you grow over the years?

Meermin was set up by my father, José Albaladejo & my uncle Sandro Albaladejo when they decided to leave a renowned Spanish shoemaking brand in which they were working at, in 2001.

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As said before, during the first years Meermin worked exclusively for the Japanese market, and placed the brand at some of the best high end men’s department stores in Japan, such as Isetan Shinjuku or Hankyu Osaka. At this point we were working as a wholesalers since we didn’t sell any shoe directly to the final customer.

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In November 2011 we decided to move towards the retail reducing the middlemen and distribution costs, and this way be able to offer our products directly to the final customers at a great price point. In May 2012 we started offering our products through our website.

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Where do you have stores and who is in charge of the business?

Currently we only have two Stores. One in Madrid and another one in Tokyo. The Madrid Store, located at the 20 of Claudio Coello Street. Frequently I visit the Madrid Store to receive customers & meet them, to hear their comments and suggestions. The contact with the customers, even via email, is great to learn from them, is great & necessary to improve in the right direction and it is a very powerful tool.

The second Store is located in the Japanese area of Aoyama in Tokyo, and our partners of Meermin Japan are in charge of it. A couple times a year we visit them to make trunk shows & meet our customers.

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Where do you get the leathers from?

All the leathers used, for both of our Collections are full grain leathers.

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For the Classic we use french Vegano Calf, calf from Les tanneries du Puy (France), french Karangrain calf or Rapello Suede from Charles F. Stead Tannery(England).

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For the Linea Maestro we use the highest quality leathers available today for shoemaking: Black Freudenberg Calf from Weinheimer Leder Tannery (Germany), Naturcalf from Anonnay Tannery (France), Sacpa Calf from Sacpa Tannery (Italy), Januscalf Suede from C.F. Stead tannery (England) or Shell Cordovan from Argentina.

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What kind of method do you use for your shoes?

In Meermin all our shoes are welted, but we have some differences between the different ranges. We have developed that kind of construction methods over the time and we think that those are the best construction methods to produce high quality and long lasting shoes.

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The Classic Collection is machine Goodyear welted (what we call GY-1), the most common Goodyear welted process. That is a process of construction were the leather welt is stitched, using a machine, to a fabric ‘rib’ which is attached to the leather insole. That creates a cavity, which is filled up with cork and then is covered with the sole, which is stitched to the welt, all around the shoe.

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The Linea Maestro is entirely hand-welted (GY-2), the Goodyear process is made by hand, without using a machine. The welt is attached directly to the insole, this is a 100% handmade process.

Thicker leather insoles are needed to produce handwelted shoes. With that kind of construction we achieve a more flexible shoe, more pure and natural shoe, without the fabric rib used in the GY-1 process.

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The Norvegesse process has another step over the Goodyear welted. The first stitching line joins the insole to the upper (instead the welt, in the handwelted process), after that the second stitching line joins the upper and the welt. After that the cavity is filled with cork and then the sole is placed and machine stitched to the welt.

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New Rey last is a very sleek and elegant last. What is his story?

The New Rey last is the result of many years of work on a last. We can say, as you stated above, that the result is a very sleek, elegant & contemporary last. At first, the New Rey last was developed to suit exclusively the Japanese market, under its previous name ‘The Rey last’.

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During the time we have modified that last several times, so much that we have had to modify even its name, since the result was a whole new last: the New Rey. The result is a well-balanced, contemporary and actual last, which is very well accepted by our customers. During the years we have developed many lasts and styles that are not currently shown in our collections.

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Among all our lasts, here is a brief description of some of them we currently offer:

- RUI: Our voluminous rounded toe last. Medium/wide fitting. A great last to base on heavier shoes, with double soles and sky welts like long-wings, plain toe Bluchers or chukkas.

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AMA: A Soft square chiseled last. Medium fitting, on the wider side. Very contemporary and elongated one.
HIRO: A classic Round last, which has a medium fitting(E). A well proportioned & straight last which fits greatly oxford, Blucher and monk styles. One of our more demanded lasts.

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- BEN: Our classic squared toe last. E fitting. A great last to base a brogued oxford on.
OLFE: The asymmetrical rounded toe last. Medium fitting (on the narrow side). The shape of that last is something special and different due to the curve it has. Also very popular among our customers.

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- VIL: Our narrower and pointier last. Narrow fitting. A very sleek and elongated last, mostly used to produce dressy oxfords.
RON: A contemporary loafers last: Great to produce loafers like the tassels or a new penny we are developing.

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Which is the most popular Meermin model?

Currently we have some very popular models depending the region where the shoes are sold.In the European and US markets, one the most popular model is the 101341 cap toe double monk shoe, in all its versions & combinations.

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On the Japanese market, the last years our most popular shoe is the 10165 – the cross stitching side laced oxford. Here we realize the evident differences across the different markets.

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Tell me more about the service. It is possible to resole the shoes on the original last?

Since all our shoes are Goodyear welted, hand-welted or Norveger, of course is it possible to resole the shoes on the original last with no inconvenience.

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You have a very interesting MTO program. Tell me more about the options a Gentleman can chose from.

Meermin’s Made to Order Service allows our customers to create their own, personal, pair of shoes.This Service allows customers to choose the Style, Last, Leather/Color for the upper, the lining, the sole option and the Construction. Apart from that, more details are custom options such as the sole and edge finishing or the to customize text written on the ‘window’ made on the lining.

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Also All MTO orders come with a pair of non-lasted wooden shoe trees.the production time for the MTO’s is about 12-14 weeks and the prices range for shoes vary from 260 Euro to 360 Euro (depending the construction), the shell 320 Euro – 420 Euro, stingray 500 Euro – 600 Euro and Crocodile 700 Euro – 800 Euro.

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What future developing plans do you have?

Well, our idea is to develop the online Store, improving our stock restriction and trying to offer the best customer service possible. Also, we do not discard the possibility of opening new Stores in Europe or the US.

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