Want to know what it would have felt like to be an ancient hunter, chasing your prey through the wild jungles of the past?
Ride a Vespa through Rome.
There’s danger, speed, and delicious gelato. Just like they did it in the old days.
Ok, maybe I don’t know anything about our primitive forbearers, but I do know that the best way to experience Italy is by scooter. But when I went two years ago, I found that I was seriously under-dressed. Not that I didn’t try—but Italian dudes look so cool all the time.
Their secret? Killer boots.
This year, I picked up some boots to see if they could do more than just a simple loafer.
I’ve been wearing my M.Gemi boots around for the past few weeks and my verdict is in.
What Is M.Gemi?
M.Gemi is an American company with its heart in Italy.
Maria Gangemi, the namesake of the brand, worked in shoe design her entire life. She longed to get back to Sicily where she grew up surrounded by factories that produced luxury handbags and shoes.
So, along with a few partners, she created M.Gemi: a brand that brings Italian luxury shoes directly to the consumer.
To learn more about the history of M.Gemi, you can visit our first M.Gemi review. You can check and see what makes their unlined suede Sacca so special that it topped our list of “Best Loafers for Men.”
Things to Consider Before Buying Italian Boots
Before you buy your own Italian boots, stop for a moment and consider how cool you want to look. Just look at this guy:
On a more serious note, a distinctive feature of luxe Italian shoes is the Blake stitching. You may have heard of Goodyear Welting before, and that’s a fantastic way to construct a shoe. It helps increase the water resistance and is easy for cobblers to replace so you can wear your shoes for years.
A Blake-stitched sole is a similar quality, but has a lower, slimmer profile.
I like the slim European look of the Blake stitch but it has a minor drawback. While any halfway decent cobbler can resole a Goodyear welted shoe, some cobblers may not have the correct machinery to repair a Blake-stitched sole. Most do, but there’s a slight chance yours doesn’t.
M.Gemi Boots Review
Well, I was wrong.
The style is based on older WWII-era service boots, but has a few fashionable modern upgrades which I’m really enjoying.
First, the shape of the heel tapers in at the Achilles tendon. It’s a subtle design quirk, but it makes the boot look like it’s fitted specifically to my foot. And I love that.
Part of what I want from Italian-style boots is a very slim European silhouette.The Blake stitching gets us part of the way there, but the extra molding around the heel and the tight fit on the ankle complete the look.
For chunkier American style boots, a Goodyear welted boot is a better choice, but the bulk doesn’t lend as well to slim suit trousers like the Euro style.
When I was shopping, there were two colorways (still available as of July 2020): navy and taupe suede.
While the navy colorway matched more in my wardrobe, I couldn’t fight the urge to go with taupe. I’m glad I gave in, too. No regrets.
The suede feels lush and is easy to care for. While some folks think suede is fickle, cleaning suede is a breeze. I picked up a suede brush and suede eraser for under $10 and can clean up my Fuggire’s in under 10 minutes.
These boots have a stacked rubber sole, which I prefer to the leather. Leather is more formal, but it just doesn’t have the same grip and durability as rubber.
There’s no comfort lining in the sole, probably to cut down on the profile height and width. I agree with that choice—these boots are fashionable and not meant to be worn for multi-mile treks.
The only minor issue I have with these boots is that they’re difficult to get on. I have to unlace half of the eyelets to get my foot in. Again, this is a tiny gripe because the design is meant to hug the ankle which is the very thing I love about these boots.
There are a few differences though that really stand out from other Chelsea boots I’ve worn in the past.
First, the ankle is relatively low. Whereas most Chelsea boots will come up well above the ankle, the Dritto sits at mid-ankle.
But the most distinctive aspect is the leather. It’s common to find boots with smooth, uniform leather, but M.Gemi wasn’t having any of that. I picked up the Rosewood colorway which is hand-dyed for a more bespoke look that’s hard to find at this price point.
There are some areas that soaked a little more dye, some with a little less. The heel and toe are polished and shined while the instep has less treatment.
The result is a pair of Chelsea boots that, like the Fuggire, look like they’re custom made.
There was no break-in period on this boot. The upper and full leather lining is soft enough to naturally bend with your foot and even a light pair of socks will keep you from getting blisters on your first wear.
With the leather sole, this boot is right at home in a more formal outfit, so go ahead and pair these with a suit. The brand includes a rubber heel which I appreciate. That makes repairs less expensive and less frequent, which is a win-win for me.
What do Other Reviewers Say About M.Gemi?
Only a dozen people wrote notes on the Dritto, but it averaged a 4.9 out of 5 stars rating. Fuggire folks (about ten as of writing) gave the boot a perfect 5-star mark.
The reviews about M.Gemi’s customer service are impressive too. The brand prides itself on its customer service and reviewers seem to notice.
My Thoughts Overall On M.Gemi
What I Like
Each boot has a distinctive feature: the molded heel in the Fuggire, and the hand-dyed leather for the Dritto.
Neither boot had any break-in period. The leather is soft enough to bend naturally when I walk, but holds its shape in the toe.
M.Gemi’s sizing chart is on-point. And their shoe sizes are consistent across their models. I own five pairs of M.Gemi shoes, all size 43.5, and they all fit equally well.
What I Don’t Like
The hand washed leather sole of the Dritto has virtually zero grip during the first few wears.
Neither the Fuggire or Dritto come in E, EE wide sizes. I suspect this is because these boots are both meant to be narrow with a slim profile.
Who are M.Gemi boots for?
M.Gemi is for anyone who wants a custom-looking boot without crossing the $500 mark. They also make an excellent compliment for anyone who wants to add a level of relaxed Italian flair to their wardrobe (i.e. me).
This is my second experience with M.Gemi, and I’m even happier this time.
While I’m a fan of their loafers, having a few new stylish pairs of boots in the closet is a welcome order and I wear them often.
What most impresses me was how tailored, or bespoke, both boots feel. Choices like the molded heel on the Fuggire, or the hand-dyed leather of the Dritto are bold—not everyone will like it. But for folks like me who want their footwear to have a distinguished edge, these details are excellent.
I can’t speak much about durability as I’ve only been wearing them for around three weeks. That said, they’re well-constructed. And because they’re fashion boots, I don’t plan on wearing them on rugged terrain so they should last a few years before I even need to resole them.
The ordering process is smooth with M.Gemi, and they have a generous return policy, though I’ve never needed to use it between the five pairs of shoes I’ve picked up from the brand.
While both the Sacca and the Volo Due need more effort in maintenance, the reward is in the luxury materials, comfort fit, and true Italian style.
Where do I buy M.Gemi shoes?
We recommend buying M.Gemi shoes through their online store. You may be able to find some shoes on EBay, but you won’t get the benefit of their generous return policy.
Which is better: M.Gemi vs Tods?
M.Gemi and Tods make a similar quality shoe. Tods is nearly twice as expensive. Tods offers a few styles that M.Gemi doesn’t, but the same is true vice-versa.