In this M.Gemi review, I wore this popular brand's sneaker and loafers to see if they're worth their price tag.
M.Gemi is one of a number of players in the middle-market, direct-to-consumer footwear space. It seems like there's a new one popping up every week with a strikingly similar checklist:
- Handcrafted in Italy
- Full Grain leather uppers
- Margom soles
- Waxed canvas laces
How does one brand stand out, and does M.Gemi stand up to the other brands selling “affordable” Italian shoes?
M.Gemi (pronounced 'em je-mee') is the brainchild (and namesake) of Maria Gangemi, Cheryl Kaplan and Ben Fischman – all industry veterans.
Founded in 2014, the brand has a suite of perennial favorites for men and women – loafers, slingbacks, dress Oxfords and
Their pricing, particularly on the their loafers (between $248 and $278), is on the higher side of the Direct-to-Consumer market.
But they definitely know their customers. The average M.Gemi customer buys four pairs a year. That's brand loyalty!
They also know consumers, in general, like the thrill of seeing something new, which is why they “drop” a new limited addition model each week.
So, the company's got their marketing down…but how's the product?
M.Gemi Lucente Review
The Lucente is M.Gemi's version of the minimalist ‘dress' sneaker. Offered in five colorways, here are the specs:
- Upper: Full grain leather
- Lining: Full grain leather
- Laces: Waxed Cotton
- Sole: Margom
- Stitching and Construction: Sidewalk
- Made in: Marche, Italy
- Price: $228 (at time of writing)
- My size: 10
Let's look at the M.Gemi Lucente in more detail…
Most everything about this M.Gemi sneaker is fantastic. The upper is full-grain calfskin. It's softer than I expected and broke in much quicker than my other pair of minimalist
It's lined in full-grain calf leather too. Much like in my dress shoes, leather insoles are something I've been increasingly looking for on my
They definitely don't have the instant comfort a cotton insole provides, but they also stand up to sweat and moisture much better. This leads to a more breathable shoe and far less foot odor, which is always a win in my book
Laces are one of those weird places a manufacturer can save a quick buck- slightly less-premium laces make for a lower price, but you'll have to replace when they snap after 20-odd wears.
These laces are waxed cotton, and feel very sturdy in your fingers, and they should hold up well.
The Lucente is made in Marche, Italy by Tuscan leatherworkers with over six decades of footwear experience. And you can definitely tell just by looking at them.
The stitching is neat and even, and the sole is secured to the upper by a sidewalk stitch. This is an extra step, but it works wonderfully.
As someone with both narrow (B width) and flat feet, I often have a very difficult time finding shoes from direct-to-consumer companies that fit well on the first try, as they're often made in medium ‘D' width.
But the size 10 Lucente fits like a 10 should, so take your normal size.
It's important to note, though, that sizing only goes down a 7 (US). So, if you've got smaller feet, you may need to find a different brand.
There are literally dozens of shoe brands out there offering only slightly different takes on the minimalist sneaker, but, M.Gemi is one the best I've seen.
First, the shoe is nicely proportioned. The toe is neither stumpy nor elongated, so it looks balanced on my foot.
Second, the silhouette really is well done. It's low profile, but far from spear-like or fashion-forward.
There isn't anything on the shoe that isn't meant to be there. No excessive branding, perforations, squiggles, or colored accent.
It's clean, pure, and simple. Minimal design for maximum versatility
Room for Improvement
From the fit to the finish, this is a supremely well-done shoe. If anything, I'd make a few observations.
The back of the heel doesn't have the suede patch many minimalist
But, that's worn off, and you shouldn't have any issues unless you're (for some reason) wearing silk socks.
Also, I noticed M.Gemi's Margom rubber sole seemed to scuff much more quickly than other pairs of
Pro tip: baby wipes work very well for cleaning Margom soles!
How to Wear M.Gemi Lucente
How do you wear these leather
White is usually the default choice, but as an aspiring minimalist I don't need another pair of white sneakers.
All-black is a little too punk-rock for my taste. But sleek black with white sole is a nice contrast, don't you think?
I've done a play on the black and grey palette here, but these would work just as well with any outfit in neutral tones.
M.Gemi Sacca Review
The Sacca is M.Gemi ‘s take on the summer loafer. Offered in three colors (including a bright red) and both unlined and unstructured, it's a Neapolitan suit in shoe form.
We're reviewing in the middle of winter, but do suspend your disbelief and picture yourself on the shore in Positano, sipping a Negroni. Here's a breakdown, though:
- Upper: Calfskin suede
- Lining: Full grain leather
- Sole: Leather with rubber insert
- Construction: Moccasin
- Made in: Toscana, Italy
- Price: $248 (at time of writing)
- My size: 9
Let's look at the M.Gemi Sacca in more detail…
Another home run from M.Gemi. The suede, particularly in the ‘luggage' colorway, is deep and rich, if a little more orange than I expected.
The shoe is unlined, so you're up close and personal with the suede. It's wonderfully soft, and I absentmindedly run my fingers across the nappy ridges from time to time.
Just as with the Lucente, the insole is full-grain leather. And, just as with the Lucente, it's quite comfortable, if a bit slick for a the first few wears.
But, I'm beginning to feel the imprint of my toes on the interior, which is a great sign these will conform well to my foot.
The leather and rubber sole is *fine*, but doesn't appear to be especially durable. But, these aren't really a pair of kicks you'd take for a hike or do any extended walking in.
The Sacca from M.Gemi is built in a moccasin style, which is supremely interesting to me. Here's why:
This is a particularly difficult method of construction in which the insole, vamp, and quarters are formed from a single piece of leather.
This piece is molded on the last, and an apron is stitched to both the vamp and sole as well as the based of the shoe.
This makes for a supremely light construction with almost no visible stitching. However, the leather sole makes the shoe far less flexible than, say, a driving shoe.
That's not a bad thing, though, as the sole makes the shoe a little more durable. And, it also makes for a supremely comfortable shoe.
The lack of both structure and lining makes this a delicate and elegant shoe to wear. I actually dig the slightly elongated toe box on this model.
It's less exaggerated than other Italian-styled loafers, which is why it works for us shorter men.
But, this slightly elongated toe box, as well as the unlined construction, means you'd to well to take half a size smaller than you normally would.
If you've got a narrow foot like me, you might even want to take a full size down. I did, and the 9 is definitely my size in the M.Gemi Sacca.
While the navy and (especially) red are harder to pair, M.Gemi's “Luggage” shade works very well with my color palette.
Room for Improvement
At almost $250, this isn't a cheap shoe. While the Sacca is supremely comfortable, the delicate construction makes long periods of wear difficult and limits the number of times and situations where you can pull them out.
This results in a pretty high cost-per-wear, unless you tend to be pretty sedentary at work and only go hard for weekend brunches.
How to Style M.Gemi Sacca Loafers
As we're reviewing in winter, it's a little harder to pair these. But, a pair of well-fitted chinos or medium wash denim, a v-neck sweater with a button-up or OCBD, and some fun socks make a for a great winter casual look.
In summer, linen trousers and pique polos are a perfect pairing for the Sacca. You could also wear these with shorts and a short sleeve button up or polo shirt.
Both of these shoes have excellent qualities. The Lucente is well made, nicely designed and easy to style.
I've truly enjoyed wearing them and certainly believe they're worth the investment. They may even be a great Common Projects alternative.
The Sacca is supremely comfortable. It's a beautifully designed, exceptionally light shoe that I've also enjoyed wearing.
But $250 is a big ask for something so delicate. If it's within your means and you're looking for an unconstructed model, it's still a great “affordable” alternative to something from Bally or Gucci.
Questions? Comments? Leave them below!