Edward Green and Gaziano Girling Trunk Shows

Last month I had the pleasure of attending the Edward Green, and Gaziano & Girling trunk shows. It was a pleasure to meet Hilary of EG and Masaichi of GG!

I had just spent moolah at EG’s trunk show so I unfortunately didn’t have the capacity to get a pair from GG’s (if I were to stay financially responsible) so I’ll have to wait til next year for them! I’m eyeing some split toe derby shoes.

Look at the detail of the side on these Gaziano and Girlings!

Fortunately, Andrew Gong (@gongdrew) from Welted Shoes Australia organised a group MTO session with Masaichi to try on the shoes and find our sizing, to avoid wasting Masa’s time if we didn’t end up buying anything.

Edward Green Trunk Show

My former student Kai Brand graciously shot some nice photos on the day I went in to make my order. Check some of these shots out!

I ordered some classic Galway boots in the burgundy delapre/utah calf leather. They arrived really quickly with complimentary EG shoe trees, and I put them into action at a mate’s wedding when they had been mirror shined.

Gaziano & Girling Trunk Show

As mentioned earlier, Andrew Gong organised a group MTO with GG to make sure we make as little impact to Masaichi’s time if we didn’t wish to buy anything. Of course, other members wishing for more privacy went at different time slots too.

Masa was gracious enough to host us. We had wonderful laughs, shared many stories and I felt immediately connected with his warm personality. When a shoe doesn’t work for him, he gives it to his son! What a lucky young man.

Here are some photos of the GG trunk show event!

Quality shoe and watch by Sam Sit!

I hope Masa had a great time in Sydney and Melbourne. Hopefully he comes back again next year so I can order those split toes.

Dappertude 2019

The Dappertude show kicked off on 26 October at the Jackalberry (Hyatt Regency) in Sydney. The purpose of the day was to educate, inspire and network like minded men together and to see what is out there in the Australian men’s fashion world.

Big hats off to Jackalberry for providing the venue and Johnny Li for organising the event. I’m looking forward to the next one in Melbourne already!

Jeff Lack was the host of the seminar and he talked about many tips about styling and interviewed many of the keynote speakers for the day. He’s a really charming and funny man!

The seersucker cloth stood out the most.

Thomas George Collection

I was there with Ben Atkinson and James Seaford representing the Thomas George Collection. I recently signed on as fellow co-founder and Director (Business Strategy) and it was an absolute pleasure to be there talking about quality shoes and shoe care with other people.

Yeah the boys

We show cased our prototype shoes that will be launching in January 2020 and the response that we got from many gentlemen and ladies there was overwhelmingly positive.

😍😍😍😍😍

Networking

Throughout the day I had the opportunity to meet many influencers in the industry, other smart looking men, women in the industry and got to hang out with a handful of them after the event. It was also heartwarming to be greeted by many people who knew me through Welted Shoes Australia!

It was a fun day to just get to know new people and share a similar passion for looking dapper with them.

Steve Tilly

By order of the Peaky Blinders, you must be this hot to enter the premises.

Nathan Leung

Ladies, line up – he’s single!

Johnny Li

The main man Johnny Li who put all this together.

Carl from Old Angler

The bags Carl sells are top notch

Alain from Pacifico Optical

Might actually get a pair from Pacifico Optical. Looking at an acetate tortoise shell…

Jeff Lack

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Nice day for a wave 🌊🌊 Not talking about my hair…

A post shared by Jeff Lack (@jefflackstylist) on

The host of the seminar was Jeff Lack. He gave a lot of good styling tips and he’s got a charming personality.

Saint Luke

The best dressed gentleman at the seminar. He loved the Fox Umbrella that I brought along and checking out our shoes over at Thomas George Collection! Starstruck 🙂

Truefitt & Hill

I learned a lot about proper skin and hair care from Truefitt and Hill’s representatives. Go check them out for a close shave up in QVB!

Sascha Klein

Sascha was so awesome that she spent her birthday with us! Go see her for made to measure garments.

A. Taylor

Guest speaker of the day on made to measure and bespoke suiting. Really knows his stuff.

It’s A Wrap!

The main thing that stood out to me from all the talks was the need for men to take care of their skin and hair more. I’m going to need to start looking into pre-shave oil and use a hair conditioner.

As for shoes, James Seaford spoke really well to the audience and his anecdotes were engaging and educational. Was great to reaffirm what I know and also for our team to share that with everyone else.

Took some of them out after dinner to The Barbershop, The Baxter Inn and Lobo Plantation. Fun night!

October 2019 Melbourne Trip

In my last visit to Melbourne mid this year, I didn’t have much time to explore the city as it was for a school PD related trip. This time, I came back with my parents to go at our own pace at checking out the place. Here are some highlights in the journey!

Melody Chia

Melody plays the Double Bass professionally and is also a handwelted shoe maker. In fact, I believe she and Theo Hasset are the only ones in Australia doing this! I visited her workshop at her home and was warmly welcomed in. We had a look at the workshop and had a lovely time chatting over some tea.

This is where the magic happens!

We discussed things like the Welted Shoes Australia (WSA) group, the shoe scene in Australia, how her journey in shoemaking began, and how her husband is still waiting on his pair to be made haha! I think my dad was very chuffed that she complimented his leather working skills when he showed her my mum’s wallet that he made.

Some unlasted uppers. Look how cute they are.

She’ll be making me a semi-brogue shoe in dark brown kangaroo leather that I cannot wait for! Every part is literally made by hand: the insole has no gemming, i.e. there is no glue used to make a holdfast – it’s entirely carved out by hand, the leather is pulled over the last by hand, the welt is handstitched (hence the handwelt name of construction). She also uses JR soles for maximum durability. Who needs a Goodyear Welt machine when you have these skills!

In the process of being made! She still has to trim the welt edge.

Prices start at $3000 for French d’Annonay calf leather, handwelted and crafted by Melody. She’s actually currently making some ready to wear pairs for Nathan Baxter’s shop in Sydney!

Thomas George Collection

The second day of my trip was entirely spent with the boys Ben Atkinson and James Seaford at the Trimly / Thomas George Collection offices.

Those are my Barossa oxfords

We shined shoes, talked about the WSA group, shined more shoes, enjoyed a visit by Ben Watson of WSA, drank beer, ate lunch, learned how to tie the Berluti knot, ate dinner, talked about the shoe scene in Australia and had a bloody good time.

So many shoes in one room!

We also had a unique chance to see some samples of new models for the Thomas George Collection!

Black boots be wildin’

It was an epic day. The office lobby also had nice concierge staff and a beautiful flower bouquet. They auction it every Friday.

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do when they come for shoes…

Harry Potter & The Cursed Child

Visiting Melbourne means you have to watch the Harry Potter & The Cursed Child play. If you haven’t seen it, go watch it. I’m so glad that I didn’t finish reading the script but instead saw the play without any of the plot spoiled for me.

The show was absolutely magical and I was convinced that I was in that world. The special effects and surprises kept coming in each act. I would highly recommend watching this show for one of the best days out in your life! (Avoid seat R14)

Leffler

My dad wanted to check out this leather warehouse. It had so much stuff he went kinda crazy buying leather from the scrap bins like a child during Christmas.

It’s got everything

I’m looking forward to what my dad will make from these new leather purchases! He’s made my mum a couple of wallets and me a NATO strap.

That’s huge!

Manfred’s Shoe Lounge

A highly recommended spot in North Melbourne, Manfred’s is home to a hair salon, shoe shop and shoe repairer. It’s literally a Shoe Lounge.

Oooohhh shiny

I had the pleasure of meeting Manfred and Jared Acquaro there!

There’s me, Manfred and Jared

Wootten

Incredibly cool shop front

My last stop was at the leatherworker/cordwainer Wootten. The shoes are all either Blake stitched or rapid Blake stitched. If you’re someone like me who prefers the Goodyear Welt construction, the rapid Blake Stitch is something you can consider for its similar style and durability.

They have a bag that I am eyeing called the Weekender. It’s so beautiful! You can see the smaller version called the Overnighter in my first photo above on display in the window.

Many shoes
Clean workshop

Honourable Mentions

Drumplings

Caught up with my friend who moved to Melbourne here. I was so tired and I was also with my parents, so we didn’t kick on to more alcohol fuelled fun afterwards unfortunately. Next time…

A bit expensive for small portions though

Nihonshu Shochu & Sake Bar

Legitimate and authentic Japanese Izakaya. I didn’t take any photos but it was awesome. Try the plum wine.

Grossi Florentino

Squid ink & cuttlefish fettuccine 😋
Cannot say no to Tiramisu

Section 8

Day drinking and shooting hoops. Best combination.

James Seaford sporting his Goodyear Welted Edward Green suede monkstraps going for the shot

Chilli Pepper

Wholesome dinner with James, his wife and my parents here in Moonee Ponds. Excellent Vietnamese food! I want to go to Vietnam now to experience their food and culture!

Yummmmmm

McClouds

They sell Berwick 1707, Loakes and Carlos Santos here as well as some other brands that appear Blake stitched. Some cool shoes with beautiful patina on display here. Didn’t have much time to poke around though.

Double Monk

Had to say hi to the boys Ben and Charles in the main store in Melbourne. My mum really liked the petite ladies Crockett & Jones shoes!

Can’t wait til I’m back in Melbourne for more!

Vass Revival Project

I acquired these Vass shoes from eBay and they came looking terrible and really smelly. So I then took on a project to revive them to a respectable condition and here is the process that I took.

Before…

How they came.

Along the side of the shoe there was also a lot of cracking and the leather was just very dry.

Severe cracking

Rejuvenation Process

So the first thing I did was sand off the cracking. I used coarse sand paper followed by fine. As I did this outdoors, the smell that came from the leather being sanded off was like burnt rubber.

Sanding it down

After it was more level and better than before, it was important to start feeding the leather with nutrients and conditioning. I lathered on a lot of mink oil lotion over a couple of days to help the leather return from its state of dry disrepair to an acceptable look.

Feeding time…

As I was experimenting with the shoe, I took this opportunity to try black cream polish on this burgundy oxblood coloured shoe to create an interesting patina. The sanded part of the shoe obviously took on a lot of the pigment.

After this process I took the shoes to Nathan Baxter in Newtown to do a disinfectant and odorising job to get rid of the smell and the germs. When I got them back, I then used my usual routine of cream and wax polishing to get them shining and looking very handsome.

After

Forgive my short pants they rode up as I took this photo

This just comes to show with proper care, good quality shoes with high quality leather uppers can be made to look great for their lifetime of many years. They can also be made looking alive again even when neglected for a long time like this pair. You won’t get this with cheap cemented crap that you can get for $400 for 3 pairs at a factory outlet.

Holiday in Hong Kong

Two days after returning from Melbourne, I was off on a plane again to Hong Kong with my mum. It was a mother and son trip, dad stayed home. We mainly just visited family and mum’s friends, as well as some occasional shopping. No, I didn’t participate in the protests! I was there for two purposes in addition to spending time with my mum and keeping her company.

Celebrating Milestones and Moving On

I’ve been working full time for some time now and I feel I’ve grown a lot in my job, all thanks to my colleagues and bosses of course. In terms of style, I’ve graduated from someone who cared very little about how I presented myself to being a bit better groomed these days. It was a good time to celebrate these little achievements and milestones in my life so through my mum’s contacts in Hong Kong, I purchased a Rolex Submariner No Date 114060 and came here to pick it up.

114060

However, it wasn’t really these achievements and milestones that brought about the idea of buying it, as much as many men love to own nice watches and look for any excuse to justify getting one.

About a year ago I had my mind set on saving this money I spent on the watch on something else. Something much more spectacular and special. However, shit happens and those plans fell through. Using those funds instead to buy the watch also makes it a symbolic reminder to forget the past, forgive, and move on.

“God sometimes breaks your heart to save your soul” – I read that on Instagram somewhere a few days ago and it really resonates with me.

Exploring Shoe Shops

The next objective of my visit after picking up my Submariner was to explore all the shoe joints of the city! It was an exciting day for me, though probably not for my mother who graciously plodded along to hold me back from splurging too much on… too much.

HOAX

In Tsim Sha Tsui (TST) and Causeway Bay (CWB) is a little shoe shop called HOAX. They stock shoes aimed at the lower to middle tier levels of quality. They have a variety of shoes for sale that differ by construction, country of origin and of course prices. From memory they have Joseph Cheaney, some Japanese brand that I forgot the name of, and Berwick 1707.

I got myself two pairs of Berwicks as I have had no exposure to them before and they were quite affordable compared to other brands. Plus, there’s no stockist in Sydney for them so what better opportunity than to get them here! In buying two pairs, I received a discount and also joined their VIP Club for a permanent 10% off any purchases in the future!

The manager was also incredibly friendly and catered for me very well! Thanks Jan!

Berwick Tasseled loafers. Excuse the sideways perspective because WordPress screws up my photos sometimes.
Berwick Split Toe Derby’s.

The Hackney

On www.fineshoes.co.uk they listed two places to find good shoes. The Hackney was one of them.

Here, I saw a collection of beautifully made shoes by Carlos Santos and Carmina. The main business of The Hackney was in men’s suiting so I also had a chance to ask about that. Full canvas with VBC fabric starts about $7000HKD and with Holland & Sherry fabric, it’s 5 digits. I think I’ll have to wait for a better exchange rate!

Carmina and Carlos Santos shoes
Carlos Santos make a nice alternative to RM Williams

Prestitch Sartorial

The other place listed was Prestitch. There were Vass shoes and Antonio Meccariello on display here. I’ve always wanted a pair of Antonio’s so it was a great opportunity for me to be able to try them on.

Antonio Meccariello! Handwelted goodness.

Leather Healer

As the photo above describes, Leather Healer is a shoe shop and cobbler all in one tiny space. There’s barely any room to swing a cat!

They stock a wide selection of shoes from Carlos Santos, Berwick 1707, Justin Fitzpatrick and TLB Mallorca. So many choices! Not only do they stock many shoe brands, they also have Saphir and Boot Black shoe care products for sale.

Corthay

Walking around in Landmark, I stumbled across this French brand of shoe. We don’t have this one in Australia, so it was a pleasant surprise for me to find this!

The shoes are beautifully presented with impressive glacages and patinas. In fact, the ladies in the shop do the patina with dyes, creams and waxes live for their customers.

Leather dyes at the Corthay workshop table

I was lucky enough to come visit the store when they were promoting a watch brand and sparkling apple juice with gold flakes. I also got to try a complimentary drink! Fancy schmancy.

Gold Emotion sparkling apple juice with gold flakes

At Corthay, I also had the wonderful opportunity to chat about shoes and polishing with a Mr Jean-Loup Vittu. Before moving to Hong Kong, he was the shoe shiner for John Lobb Paris! So of course I had to learn a few things from him.

He told me all about the unique styles and offerings of Corthay, how they differ and excel above other European brands like Berluti. It was also awesome to behold his black dial Audemars Pigeut Royal Oak watch! Thank you Jean, for your time and extra tips on shoe polishing!

Meet Jean, a man with a lot of life experience around the world. The definition of International Mindedness.

Santoni

Just a brief stop, some nice shoes here. A mix of Blake Stitch and Goodyear welt shoes, ranging from calf leathers to reptile.

Tassels

Say hello to Newton, the friendly staff member in this photo with his calming, beaming smile! 😊

The store that resembles Double Monk the most has got to be Tassels in terms of shoe offerings. They stock Crockett & Jones, Edward Green, Alden, Joseph Cheaney and Bontoni.

It’s also encouraging to see that they also offer seasonal discounts, something that doesn’t ever happen at Double Monk. For example, an Edward Green Piccadilly loafer was on 40% off to bring it in line with Crockett & Jones handgrade prices! That’s incredibly generous of Tassels to do that.

Of note also is that they stock Saphir and Boot Black polishing products. I believe they tend to gravitate towards Boot Black as they put it more upfront on display. Not only that, but they also run a Monday-Friday Boot Black shoe shining service by a shoe shiner Sifu (Master) just right outside their shop!

Sifu working on a mirror shine for a client!

The Armoury

The Landmark Store
Peddar House Store

The store I visited with most anticipation was The Armoury and oh boy, it did not disappoint. The sheer amount of men’s fashion goodies like ties, suits, glasses, shoes, hats, accessories, umbrellas and watches was impressive to say the least.

It was also enlightening to finally behold a pair of Yohei Fukuda’s shoes. The incredible care and masterful craftsmanship presented in the shoes just blew me away.

Yohei Fukuda!
Yohei Fukuda Shoes. I also have a copy of that book on display! Master Shoemakers by Gary Tok.

The store also stocks Saint Crispin, Carmina and their own line of The Armoury in-house shoes. They bought the licence to their own last from a dying shoemaker and collaborate with Yohei Fukuda on the designs. Made in Northampton, their in-house branded shoes are on the level of other brands of similar price range like Crockett and Jones.

The Armoury in-house brand. Made in Northampton and designed in collaboration with Yohei Fukuda.

When I was there, I was also lucky to catch the 2019 Shoe Making World Championship winning exhibits on display! The techniques and level of detail in each shoe looked like it was out of this world. It just shows how the qualities of 100% handcrafted shoemaking are impossible to replicate in any factory.

2019 Shoe Making World Champions

Kow Hoo Shoe Co.

Bespoke shoes since 1928

I accidentally stumbled upon this shoe maker while I was wandering aimlessly around the Landmark. I’m glad I found it as the story behind this shop is quite a moving one.

For about $16000 HKD, you can get your own personalised wooden last made to any specification that you wish; round/chisel toe, elongated or short, wide or narrow. Following this, the shoe making process begins with multiple fittings, always prioritising comfort before working on form. Each shoe takes about a year to make employing only handwelting methods.

However, the most bewildering thing is that the Sifu behind each shoe is now 90 years old and still painstakingly handwelting each shoe. The lady in the store was holding back tears as she told me there’s no one younger to take on the craft. It was sad to literally see a dying art in its last years. I just hope that they’ll somehow be able to pass the torch on.

Food & Drinks

I enjoy catching up with my good friend Benny every time I’m in Hong Kong. He’s incredibly down to earth and takes no crap from anybody. He also knows the best places for culture and food in the city, and this time around he showed me a few places that I really enjoyed!

Mrs Pound

It’s a locksmith shop…????
Open sesame!

Foxglove

A Fox Umbrella themed restaurant and bar!
My Wanghee Fox Umbrella at Foxglove. Feeling right at home.
Ask for Frank’s Library to have drinks in a more intimate and hidden bar in Foxglove.
Yummy cocktails! Yes, that’s a straw out of the glass bird’s butt.
Another area of Foxglove themed like a train carriage. Notice how the window bars are made from Fox Umbrellas!
Of course you can buy an umbrella from the display windows.

001

Hidden inconspicuously in an alleyway of a wet market…
… ring the doorbell and wait for black door to open…
… to an underground bar with awesome drinks!

LKF

If you know, you know.

Cya Hong Kong!

Til next time 🙂

My Melbourne Trip

Can’t believe my conference trip to Melbourne was already over a week ago as of the time of writing this post, as I am already on holiday in Hong Kong – watch out for my post about that!

The Boys

Over in Melbourne, I met the other Admins of Welted Shoes Australia Facebook group; James and Ben. We enjoyed several beers and an Espresso Martini at various locations around the Melbourne city!

At State of Grace with the boys. You have to pull a book from a shelf to reveal a hidden entrance! Felt like Harry Potter!
Hi Chloe!

I also had the opportunity to shine one of James’ Crockett and Jones shoes on another day while filming for a short, fun interview. Hopefully that’s coming soon!

Culture and Food

The National Gallery of Victoria also had an exhibition showcasing the Terracotta Warriors and Cai Guo Qiang’s masterpieces. I thoroughly enjoyed that.

Kneeling archer for deadly tactics
Ash from pyrotechnics on white porcelain birds, just one of Cai’s works.

I only had one chance to visit a nice cafe in Melbourne as the other days were spent in a conference. I went to Hardware Societe which was recommended to me many years ago. Pretty good food and interesting coffee art.

Pork belly and 🍳
Up the Roosters! (Irony: I’m in Melbourne where it storms a lot)

Menswear Shops

I stopped by briefly at American Tailors and checked out some of their Francesco Maglia umbrellas. They’re so thicc that a Fox Umbrella would look like a skinny boy next to them. Although their products and services are of the best quality, I found it difficult and on the verge of impossible to establish a rapport with the staff who were considerably older than me and the Double Monk staff. Maybe it’s just me.

Of course, my visit to Melbourne was not complete without checking out the flagship store of Double Monk. I had a friendly and very educative chat about shoes with Charles and Ben from there, topics ranging from why they don’t stock Carmina and George Cleverley (anymore), why certain leather choices are more economical than others and managed to convince me why buying a Stefano Bemer replica Russian reindeer shoe is a bad idea. A lot of food for thought. Interesting perspectives.

Ben hard at work shining some shoes
Some shoes and boxes on their shelves
Trying on some John Lobbs
I love their over the counter wall design

Melbourne is such a great city for all it has to offer and it’s such a shame I couldn’t stay for longer.

I’ll be back for some more exploration in October, during which I will be watching the Harry Potter plays too!

On my list to see next:

  • Harry Potter plays
  • Manfred’s Shoe Lounge
  • Wootten
  • Melody Chia

May to June Shoe Shines

I had the pleasure of meeting a Welted Shoes Australia (WSA) member with an impressive collection of shoes. He wanted me to shine and elevate the look of the shoes with my skills that I had displayed via WSA. Throughout May-June, I was busy with this each week and also occasionally shined my other friends’ shoes.

I follow my usual shoe shining techniques outlined here: Ultimate Shoe Care and Shine Guide

Here is a log of what I’ve done:

John Lobb’s

Tan oxfords
Museum calf oxfords
Museum calf Chelsea boots
Black Chelsea boots

Edward Green

Black oxfords
My own pair of EG derby’s

Gaziano & Girling

Burgundy lazyman oxfords
Tan Chelsea boots. Absolutely loved this pair!
Dark brown oxfords

Berluti

Purple Berluti – Part 1
Purple Berluti – Part 2

Aubercy

Went for a mahogany burnish effect on these wholecuts
Gotta be the capstone of my career. Reptile oxfords!!!

Crockett & Jones

Coniston boots
My black Northcotes
Not my dark brown Northcotes
My freshly bought barely worn second hand double monks off WSA

Miscellaneous

My Thomas George Collection shoes
A friend’s Herring Shoes Black oxfords
Navy oxfords (forgot the brand name)
Anthony Cleverley lazyman oxfords
Watch to the end for lols

Hit me up if you are interested in your shoes to look the same! 🤩🤩🤩

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.

Thomas George Collection

The founder of Trimly, James Seaford, recently launched a MTO brand of shoes produced by Fugashin Shoemaker. I just received my pair of Barossa semi-brogue oxford shoes, named after the famous Australian wine region. Trust me, these shoes are as great value as the wines themselves. Here is a quick review of these shoes!

Be sure to check out their website at www.tgcollection.com.au

Upper

The leather upper is a French d’Annonay calf and this tannery is well known for its high quality and selection of leather. The leather looks so rich with personality and the grain is sophisticated. For a shoe costing $350 to use d’Annonay is an amazing feat in of itself already.

The Barossa from Thomas George Collection by Fugashin Shoemaker

Welt

On closer examination of the welt and the stitching, the welt stitching is done quite well and adequately close to the upper for a shoe of this price range. The consistency of the stitching is also notably better than my pair of Cheaney’s.

Sole

Perhaps what I am most impressed about is the hidden channel sole that you would rarely find on a shoe of this price range. It looks very sleek and handsome. It’ll be a shame when I have to scuff it up when I wear it but for now, I’d like to enjoy a good looking sole before then.

Look at the beautiful hidden channel sole

Fit and Style

I generally fit well into Crockett and Jones’ UK7 last 341 very well. This pair of Barossas really fit true to my size at UK7. The fit is super comfortable. Not too tight, not too loose. I can imagine walking around in these all day!

Fits like a glove

Conclusion

In this short review, I can confidently say that these shoes are great value for money. They fit me excellently, they look great and the construction quality is more than what I expected for the price that I paid. Definitely get some in the next made to order session which is soon, I believe!

One more photo for good measure

Here’s a video review and shine that I did for this pair!

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!