Company: Mio Marino
Products: Clothing and Other Accessories
Founder(s): Isaac Fulop
Products in Article: Oxford Wingtip Lace in Cabernet and Ratchet Belts
Mio Marino is a small company based in Yew York City. While they do not sell handmade, full-grain leather shoes and belts, I do think their products are worth a shout out. Especially at their prices.
Now Mio Marino does not do any manufacturing in the States or other well known leather countries (Italy, Spain, England, Mexico...) and their products are made in China. However, they don't try to hide this fact either. I have seen them answer the "where are they made" question on Amazon with no hidden details: "Designed in New York City, leather is sourced from Africa. The shoes are manufactured in China, assembled and quality checked in New York City." I have mentioned before that I like a company who is transparent and as they grow, who says they won't start looking to make goods here in the States?
When it comes to quality, I am not stating that I think Mio Marino's shoes are up there with brands like Allen Edmonds, but they certainly are not these Target atrocities either! If I had to compare them to another shoe company in terms of quality and price, I would say Clark's and their own line of dress shoes.
The pair I have by Mio Marino, the Oxford Wingtip Lace, is a beautiful shoe. They can be purchased for around $70-$90. Of course with that cost point, there are some corners cut with the materials. The leather is Genuine Leather grade (which to me, is still way better than bonded leather or polyurethane) and the sole is cemented on, not welted, with a rubber heal. There are some rubber pads for transaction and no shank.
One thing I like about the cemented sole on the Mio Marino's is that they don't put that fake stitching on the topside to given the illusion of a welt. To me, that is ridiculous and false advertising. While the no welt instantly turns people off of some shoe brands, I would like to point out that some new companies on the scene, such as Wolf & Shepard, are making high priced, cemented dress shoes that can be resoled.
Despite those cost cuts, the leather stitching on the vamp, toe, and heal is quite well done from what I can tell and I haven't had any problems with loose threads. While the leather lining is also stitched and the back half cushioning on the insole is very comfortable, the lining stops about halfway into the shoe. Most likely another way to keep this beautiful shoe under $100. See the picture below:
Now onto Mio Marino's belts. Just like their shoes, they are made of Genuine Leather and are not full-grain. Again, I do not wear them as much as my custom made belts or my personally crafted belts, so I have not had a problem with wear and tear. The belts feel soft and don't have that plastic look like some other cheaper belts. The back of the belt is also finished nicely compared to most ratchet belts out there. Now I know that might change overtime, but again, I do use these as an everyday belt.
The two belts I have from Mio Marino are the Gold Vintage Ratchet Belt in brown and the Stony Matte Linxx Ratchet Belt in blue. The Gold Vintage has a beautiful buckle and your standard quick release mechanism with a button that are on most ratchet belts, such as the more known Mission Belt. The Stony Matte Linxx has a different release mechanism on the buckle, one that I have only been able to find on the Slide Belts. You just simply pull the top of the buckle up and it releases. This method is much easier to use in my opinion, especially if you want to adjust your belt midday and you don't want to make it so obvious (like in a meeting). Plus, they are cheaper (around $30 at most) than Slide Belts and a better quality when you match their Genuine Leather belts against each other.
Mio Marino is a company that helped me get into the world of leather goods. While they are not a top notch in quality, they don't market to be either. They offer a variety of accessories and clothes that are much better quality than you can find in department stores and with very competitive prices. While I do not wear my belts and shoes everyday, I certainly get my values worth out of all three items. If you are on a tight budget but still want something more unique to add to your wardrobe, I highly recommend Mio Marino products.