|G&G, the perfect shoemaker. When buying these they should be flawless, but that is what you should get for +£700|
I recently had a nice cab ride here in Central London with a lovely fellow who used to play professional football (soccer) back in the early 70's. We got to chatting, so he asked what I was doing living in London and I told him that I was a shoe designer. He then began to tell me of how he appreciated a nice shoe and how he once bought a pair of handmade shoes from Foster & Son back in the early 60's for £150, which presumably back then was a lot of money. These days £150 won't get you much in terms of handmade shoes, let alone a good factory made shoe yet people think that for not too much more than that they should be getting top notch quality. Talking to this gentleman, plus thinking about the posts that I have recently done about leather quality and reading all of the comments that people make about Meermin shoes on Style Forum (the complaints are what I am referring to here), got me thinking that many people these days expect to get gold for the price of copper and something has give. Having now been in the industry looking at it from the inside out and thus spending more time with others in the industry too, has certainly gotten me to see things that I did not see before and understand the realities of it a lot better than I ever could have.
|Meermin Mallorca, some of the best value for money shoes around. Not perfect, but well made and definitely worth the price!|
|1st grade, what you find in most +£600 shoes. 2nd grade more used on the £200-£400's, with a bit of 1st grade too for the cap's and vamps...|
The plain and simple fact is that if you look hard enough (almost as if you are wishing it to be there, just for the sake of complaining), then there is always going to be something to pick out of a shoe that is sub £400: a small wrinkle in the leather, a 1-2mm off center facing line (where the laces are), a wonky welt stitch, a medallion not centered or in the exact same spot as it's partner, a crooked cap, a top line not cleaned up so nicely, a slightly crooked center heel closing stitch, a bit of sloppy edge dressing etc. But none of these things take away from the actual quality of the shoe, only the perfect aesthetic side of it. Yet these are the things that people love to complain the most about. It is not enough to simply get a well made shoe, it now has to be well made, cost less than £300 and be spotless under a microscope.
Many people's expectations have gone so far off that I can't imagine how they buy anything anymore without complaining about it or asking for a discount and to me it is just plain silly and quite disgusting if I might add. The amount of crap that I read on the Meermin Mallorca thread on Style Forum makes me feel sorry for Pepe and the likes having to deal with people who are simply never satisfied and almost just want to complain for the sake of it even though they are getting among the best deals in footwear. Were else can you find a handwelted shoe with good grade leather and clean finishing for sub £250? Nowhere, that's where!! Yet people love to complain about every little detail that is slightly off. It does not make sense.While I am the self proclaimed "Shoe Snob" and therefore do look at every single detail myserf, I do so with reason and common sense in mind, knowing that I cannot judge the Meermin the same as I do the G&G, as well as ask myself whether the flaw that I notice affects the quality of the shoe or simply an aesthetic part that only I will see?
Shoes are a funny thing. They forever in time have been the product that people will spend the least on (when it comes to their wardrobe) but also be the thing that people complain the most about. Do the same people that complain about every minute detail, do the same thing when buying a house or a car or a meal at a restaurant, wanting to spend a fraction of the price yet get the top quality? It's weird, but I really feel that many many people's expectations when it comes to shoes are just so far skewed that it is going to start ruining it for certain brands out there. You don't expect to buy a £17 filet mignon and it to taste like the one at the most posh restaurant in town that cost £80. If you do, then you are a fool. Just because they are both filet mignon doesn't mean that they are the same cut, quality of meat, or cooked in the same way. Same for shoes. Just because a shoe is made from Europe and is goodyear welted, mean that the Meermin at sub £250 should be just as flawless as the G&G at +£700. That is ludicrous.....yet so many people expect it.
So people, realize that in the world we live in, where quality of leather has gone down due to the amount of vegetarians (could not be true but it sounds good ;-), among other reasons and thus the loss of trade in the industry due to decreasing demand toppled by a growing consumer market that continually wants the best quality at the lowest cost in the shortest amount of time possible, that shoemakers are now resorting to using as much of the leather hide that they can (meaning grades 2-3) as well as cutting corners to produce more and more to please the consumers. That means that quality is inevitably going down, while leather prices continue to go up (thus as well as retail prices) all in order to supply the masses that want perfection at the bottom dollar.....it's a vicious spiral, but it will only end if we start to manage our expectations and be patient for our custom made shoes.......
All pictures courtesy of Style Forum