When it comes to online shopping there are certainly no limitations, and while the process of sizing up a suit is not equated by a digital transaction, shoes are an easier buy. But then there’s something special about seeing them in the flesh, of trying them and taking a walk around, and of leaving the store with them in your hand, too. The local retail scene is challenging, faced as it is with the increasing pressure of those aforementioned digital competitors and high street openings, but there remains a band of stores committed to the best in product and service. Herewith, the best men’s shoe stores in Sydney.
As if the name doesn’t give it away, Sneakerboy is a store that, for the most part, stocks sneakers, and lots of them at that. At the Sydney outpost of this retailer you’ll find coveted, limited edition and special collaboration luxury pieces from the likes of Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy and Raf Simons. But what’s makes Sneakerboy particularly unique is the physical retail spaces are essentially showrooms for what is an online business, meaning that you can walk in, try on your favourite pair, purchase it on an in-store iPad and have it delivered to your home. Who said you can’t walk into an online store?
Joseph’s is one of those institutions that you can always rely upon for the kind of classic footwear that never goes out of fashion. Located for more than 30 years in Sydney’s historic Strand Arcade, home to many artisans in various fields of the fashion business, the store stocks leather pieces from the likes of Church’s, Loake, Car Shoe Company and its own in-house line, amongst others. What’s more is that it because its staff are the experienced kind, they know every aspect of the construction and fit of shoes, meaning the pair you inevitably take home will last you a lifetime.
As Australia’s only luxury department store, it stands to reason that Harrolds boasts one of the city’s standout footwear offerings, and like its ready-to-wear selection, is broken up into various sections, pairing sneakers with the contemporary designers and classic leather lace-ups with the suiting. You’ll find everything from Balenciaga and Giuseppe Zanotti to Pal Zileri and Grenson – as well as a dedicated Tom Ford shop-in-shop – and should you be feeling particularly decadent, there are personal shoppers, made-to-measure tailoring and delivery services available.
Bespoke, made-to-measure and custom tailoring has become big business in Australia in the past five years, and yet bespoke footwear remains a rarity. Andrew McDonald has been making shoes from start to finish for many years, and from his retail store-cum-workshop in the Strand Arcade, he offers a particularly unique made-to-order service. The process takes three fittings in total, to ensure the best fit and function, and are all hand-stitched from high quality leather. For those with a keener interest in the form, Mr McDonald also offers five-day shoe-making courses, with dates available through 2015.
In the basement of the Mid-City Centre is Culture Kings, a place of worship for sneaker freaks. Here you’ll find one of the largest sneaker selections in the world, displayed on an endless wall that allows you to admire the new additions that regularly arrive on the shop floor from brands like Nike, Adidas, Vans, Palladium and Converse. That’s not all, of course, with the vast space playing home to a full range of streetwear – including clothing, caps and accessories – and a reputable barbershop.
Louis Vuitton’s street corner space in Sydney’s CBD is not merely a store but rather a maison, a title bestowed only on those retail stores around the world that carry the full range of the brand’s broad offering. As part of the maison experience is a made-to-order men’s shoe service, one of only ten stores in the world with such an offering. Alongside its extensive range of footwear is the option for customers to tailor their own unique pair, choosing from different models, insteps, stitching, leathers and colours, and the opportunity to add initials or digits embossed on the inside for a discreet signature. What’s more is that all of the shoes are crafted in the French house’s workshop in Fiesso d’Artico,a small town outside of Venice, Italy, that has been home to the best in shoemaking since the 13th century.