So below are my new shoes!
As for impression, I seriously think it is beyond AE by quite a margin. Closed channel, slick last, and handwelt to say a few. For the average snarky SF member, a very close look asks for better finish but it is fine for me. Shoes were very comfortable from the start. Leather is a little stiff which should require some breaking but that is not a negative.
Forgive me for my lack of shoe terminologies, but what I really am impressed at this price point is how well balanced the outter sole is for each shoe, you can see in the pictures taken the front of the shoes. I think this is a sign of long lasting soles and would be worn properly from the middle of the sole to outer edge.
Pictures! Warning: Spoiler! (Click to show)
I really like these. As long as the leather looks well after 10 or 20 wearings I'd say you have a winnar! The leather looks a little 'tlat' right now but that should improve with wear and polish.
I am currently dipping into the Meermin pool with a couple of pairs in Suede for casual wear.
I don't know much about Meermin - do they make claims as to the tannage of the soles?