Where To Buy Shoes in Sydney

Other gentlemen style blogs have their own guides on where to buy quality shoes in Sydney, but I find that they also recommend some rubbish places and have no anecdotes of personal experiences. It’s also very concerning when they recommend two big names in the Australian retail space that sell cemented, sub-par shoes. Ergo, I have excluded them and have only recommended places that do properly constructed stuff.

Double Monk

Double Monk in The Strand Arcade sell four main brands of shoes amongst other gentlemen goods such as Abbeyhorn products, Saphir polishes, Fox Umbrellas and exquiste ties. These shoe brands are Crockett and Jones, Alden, Edward Green and John Lobb. They are considered top of the line quality shoes made in England and I am very thankful that this store is bringing them into Sydney.

Tom, James and Sascha are also the most chill and helpful people when it comes to style advice and general chats about men’s fashion and shoes. I’m looking forward to visiting their main shop in Melbourne the next time I fly there.

Here are some photographs of shoes that I have bought from them:

C&J Westbourne
C&J Northcote

Here is a short video that I made about them:

Andrew McDonald

Two doors next to Double Monk you’ll find Andrew McDonald, a local Sydney shoe maker who trained with John Lobb back in his younger days. He is always innovating new styles and spicing things up with his designs. I have actually written up a review already on his store and you can find it by clicking here.

Chilling downstairs from Double Monk and Andrew McDonald in my Andrew McDonald derby boots.

Janardana

In browsing through Janardana’s website at
http://www.janardanashoemaker.com, he employs the usual methods of shoe construction including Blake stitched and Good Year Welted shoes. However, the one amazing thing that stands out the most to me is that he actually Handwelts some of his shoes! This is huge as that takes tremendous skill, time and effort to commit to.

You can find his studio and showroom at Fitzroy Place in Surry Hills.

Kazuna

I’ve written a review on Kazuna’s services and I rate the shoes very highly. He does two lines of shoes: a Made to Measure service by Miyagi-Kogyo in Japan and a Made to Order service by a shoemaker located in Spain. I only have shoes from Miyagi-Kogyo and I am pleased to say that I am very happy about them as well as impressed by his Japanese high standard of service to customers.

His offering of Spanish made to orders also look very promising. I had a flick through his material book and the choice of options and leathers are very extensive.

My glistening Miyagi-Kogyo dark brown oxford shoes.

J. H. Cutler

By appointment only at 12-14 O’Connell Street in Manufacturer’s House, J. H. Cutler specialises in bespoke menswear but they also do ready to wear and made to order Stefano Bemer shoes. Stefano Bemer shoes are one of the greatest shoes that one can get in the world and it is a service to us Sydney dwellers that they are obtainable on our home soil without having to travel too far.

Read more about their Bemer offerings here:
https://jhcutler.com/blogs/news/stefano-bemer-now-available-once-again-at-j-h-cutler

A Stefano Bemer shoe basking in glory.
Photo taken from:
https://www.stefanobemer.com/derby/model-5400-1

Berluti

A tad expensive for my taste for mostly Blake stitched shoes, but they are undeniably very beautiful shoes with exquisite patinas and leather quality. It’s worth the experience of just looking and browsing through the store located in Pitt Street Westfield. If you’re lucky, you might even meet the store manager, Bastien Weill, who I can say is an intelligent man who holds a decent conversation. Or is that just me being seduced by his French accent?

Here are some nice purple Berluti’s that I had the pleasure to shine up for a Welted Shoes Australia member.

Oscar Hunt Tailors

At Oscar Hunt Tailors, you can buy a brand called Cordwainer. I don’t have personal experience with them but a colleague at work does. Here’s a pair that I shined up for him!

R.M. Williams

More out of necessity rather than recommendation, I guess it’d be wrong to leave out R.M. Williams from this list. There are stores everywhere over Sydney and it’s worth walking into a store and trying them on for fit before heading online to a wholesaler like http://www.nungar.com.au/catalog/ or
https://portphillipshop.com.au/ to buy.

Always check out their outlets to see if there’s any factory seconds. Sometimes they’re just as good.

Weird flex but ok.

124 Shoes

This shop in The Galeries next to The Grounds of the City stocks a variety of shoes. Most of the shoes employ the blake stitch or rapid blake stitch construction but are nevertheless good quality. It’s definitely worth checking out their stock for brands such as Preventi, Barker, Moreschi and Conflict For Interest amongst many others. There are some interesting fashion forward designs that you can find here with Made to Order options as well.

In my visits to this store, it was immediately clear that the staff are quite passionate about their products. However, their sales approach was to deliver a lecture about their shoes before they gauged what kind of customer I was and how much I knew about shoes too. As a result, it felt like they were preaching to the choir. I’d much rather be able to have a friendly chat to build a relationship rather than be treated as a sales opportunity; after all, any visitor is a potential customer in the future if not today.

Outside 124 Shoes. You aren’t allowed to take photos inside because “they are registered designs”… what if I bought your bloody shoes, took a photo, then refunded them?

Their website can be found at www.124shoes.com

Brooks Brothers

At Brooks Brothers you can get a lot of fashionable items like suits, ties, jackets, and of course shoes. They use reputable shoemakers like Allen Edmonds to make their shoes and you can’t go wrong with them. Personally, I don’t favour Allen Edmonds lasts but they are still a brand worth trying and buying in the price range that they present themselves in.

I am aware that in other countries, Brooks Brothers partners with other shoemakers like Edward Green and Crockett and Jones to bring shoe stock into their stores. Might be worth checking them out overseas too if you ever get the chance.

Upstairs in the Sydney shop. Cool pool table and suits. Forgot to photograph the shoes… woops. Will edit and put them here when I next visit the shop.

Tom Ford & Harrolds

Located in Pitt Street Westfield, these stores have some nice looking shoes by Artioli, Magnanni, Tom Ford and others. I’ve been informed that the shoe maker for Tom Ford is located in Napoli, but I have yet to pinpoint exactly which factory or shoemaker supplies their goods… anyone got an idea?

The Tom Ford specialist there, Jonathan, is also a nice guy who is very helpful and open to chatting about shoes and suits. I found him to be super friendly and his service felt very welcoming. I mean, nothing can get better than complimentary coffee or whiskey each time I say hello! He also rocks a few pairs of Carmina and Meermin each time I see him, so he knows a bit about his shoe choices too. So shout out to my main man Jonathan, go hit him up.

Some pretty Artioli
What a nice photograph by this guy.

M.J. Bale

I was considering pushing this into an honourable mentions list as they used to stock Joseph Cheaney shoes regularly, but not anymore. M.J. Bale has opted for their own line of shoes made in India. Not that they are bad quality, in fact they are better than some other shoe brands out there, but the Cheaney’s just offer so much more in terms of history, prestige and quality.

If you can still get your hands on a pair of Cheaney’s through M.J. Bale, you can probably get a nice discount on them while stocks last!

Not too shabby.

Joseph’s Shoes

They’re alright.

For entry level decent shoes, Joseph’s on the ground floor of The Strand Arcade stocks a couple of reasonable brands including their own line. I personally don’t go in here after spending much of my time in Double Monk instead and the reviews aren’t great for this place.

Ultimate Shoe Care and Shine Guide

This is a comprehensive guide of everything that I do when it comes to looking after smooth leather shoes. This doesn’t include Cordovan. That stuff is an entirely different beast worthy of its own topic. You’ll notice that I like to use my fingers in the polishing step. Most Japanese shoe shiners adopt this method and I have chosen to do the same.

Equipment

EquipmentSaphirBoot Black
Leather CleanerReno’MatLeather Lotion
ConditionerRenovateur and/or
Mink Oil Lotion
Two Face Lotion Plus and/or
Mink Oil
Shoe Cream PolishPommadierShoe Cream
Silver or Black label is okay
Soft Wax PolishPate De LuxeWax Polish
Hard Wax Polish (Optional)Mirror GlossHigh Shine Base and
High Shine Coat
Horse hair brushNatural Horsehair Brush
Need one per colour. IMPORTANT!
Premium Horsehair Brush
ClothAny will doAny will do
Microfibre Cloth or Cotton High Weaving cloth (Super 180)I use Brift H’s high shine cloth. Bought in HK but…Boot Black’s high shine cloths work great!
Water SpritzerMuji’s PET spray bottle

I must also mention the importance of using shoe trees to retain the shape and wick moisture from inside the shoe. You can grab some quality shoe trees from www.trimly.com.au. While polishing, it is important to have a shoe tree in!

Method

Cleaning and Conditioning

  1. Any dirt and grime or residual old polish needs to be cleaned off at the start. Apply a coin sized amount of the leather cleaner on a cloth and wipe the shoe all over. Repeat this step as many times as it takes to make sure all the dirt and old polish is off.
    Be very careful though! If you do this excessively, you run the risk of stripping off the shoe’s finish.
  2. The cleaner will be very harsh on the leather and you’ll need to feed it nutrients so it doesn’t dry out. After the shoe is dry, brush it with a horsehair brush and then apply conditioner all over the shoe with a cloth. Leave this on for as long as possible – 24 hours is best.
  3. Brush the shoe.

Cream Polish

  1. Dab your finger in cream polish and rub it in all over the leather of the shoe. With a finger, you can feel the leather accepting the polish as you rub it in. Cream polish will hide any small scuff marks by colouring the scratches with pigment and it also has some wax content to give a soft shine after brushing.
  2. Wait at least 15 minutes before brushing the shoe for a soft dull shine.

Soft Wax Polish

  1. Wax polish will provide a little bit of waterproofing against the elements and is the foundation of getting that lustrous mirror shine.
  2. With the index finger, rub the wax polish in the tin to get the polish onto your finger.
  3. Then in circular motions, apply the polish all over the shoe. You will need to keep getting polish onto your fingers when you feel like it stops spreading. I start at the toe box and work my way around to the heel. Make sure there is a maximum of ONE layer on the areas of the shoe that bend. Excessive polish in the soft areas that bend and crease will cause the polish to crack when it is dry. Not a good look.
  4. Apply a generous amount, repetitively, of the wax polish to the toe box and heels to create the base. I do about 10 minutes worth per shoe. Too much polish will cause what looks like wax lumps to appear and you don’t want that to happen. The polish will look cloudy as you do this – this is a good thing. A good trick here is to mix in Neutral polish with the coloured polish for extra effect.
  5. Let the polish dry. Generally wait about 30 minutes to an hour for maximum effect. The turpentine in the polish needs to evaporate before the shoe fully accepts the polish. If it is not dry, the next steps run the risk of creating water spots on the shoe. They look bad.
  6. With a damp, but not wet, microfibre cloth or cotton cloth (make sure there are no loose threads) wrapped tightly around your index finger, gently but quickly buff off the polish cloud all over the shoe to a desired shine. Use circular motions.
    To dampen the cloth, use the water spritzer on the cloth and clap your fingers to temper the wetness of the cloth. Some people like to use a drop of water for this step instead of a water spritzer.

Mirror Shine – With Soft Wax

For this mirror shining technique, it carries on from the previous steps by continuing to use the soft wax instead of switching to the hard wax. While requiring more time and effort, some people say that the soft wax produces are better quality shine than the hard wax technique.

By Step 6 of the previous part, you will now have 1 layer of polish shined on the toe box and heels. From here on, repeat the following steps a maximum of 4 times. Too many repetitions will result in excessive polish that will crack.

  1. Using fingers, rub a layer of wax polish onto the toe box and heels, covering those parts with a polish cloud. This time it is considerably less than the first layer. Don’t apply polish over the cloud more than once.
  2. Let dry for 20-60 minutes.
  3. Buff the cloud off quickly and gently in circular motions with the waist of your finger wrapped in a damp microfibre/high-weave cloth.
  4. Occasionally while doing step 3, dab a tiny amount of soft wax on the tip of the finger in the cloth and rub it gently around the toe cap/heel. The solvents in the tiny amount of wax will react with the existing dry layer and dampness of the cloth to bring out a higher shine.
  5. I personally sometimes combine the use my bare fingers and areas of my hand to gently rub the polish. This generates more heat which is essential to the buffing process.
  6. Repeat steps 3-5 until you are certain it cannot get shinier. Don’t worry if it is not a mirror shine at this stage yet. Make sure the cloth is always damp but never wet.
  7. Repeat these steps from Step 1 again at most three more times.

In step 1 and 4, you can choose different coloured wax to the colour of the shoe sometimes. For example, after 2 layers of black on a black shoe, a navy layer adds a bit of dimension, and a neutral layer can add extra pop to the shine. It is best to experiment and come up with your own preferences and nuances.

Mirror Shine – With Hard Wax

This technique is very fast compared to the soft wax technique and requires the purchase of the hard wax. As stated before, some people say that it doesn’t provide as much a high shine as the previous technique.

  1. Apply the hard wax layer to the toe cap/heel. It generally dries very fast. With Mirror Gloss, it dries in about 30 seconds and the Boot Black high shine base in about 2 minutes.
    This step can also replace the toe box/heel steps of the base layer step in the Soft Wax Polish section. DO NOT apply hard wax to the areas that the shoe can bend/crease!
  2. Dab a bit of the soft wax polish on the tip of your finger wrapped in a damp microfibre/high-weave cloth. In the case of the Boot Black high shine product, replace the soft wax polish with the high shine coat product.
  3. Apply the soft wax polish to the hard wax cloud and quickly buff it right off in circular motions with the waist of your finger. Keep doing this until a desired shine is achieved.
  4. Repeat steps 1 to 3 at most three more times.

Video Example

Samples

For any Sydney dwellers, hit me up for a chat about getting a shine!