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!

R.M. Williams Heritage Museum – Adelaide Visit

Last year I had the opportunity to visit Adelaide which is the home of our very own Australian iconic brand, R.M. Williams. Reginald Murray Williams originally crafted boots back in his workshop on 5 Percy St, Prospect SA, now a flagship store for R.M. Williams as seen in the featured picture. If you own a pair of RM’s, you’ll notice that this is the address printed on the tabs of the boots.

Trying on the rum Comfort Craftsman boots

Inside you’ll find what you’ll expect from any retail store, a friendly staff and a plethora of R.M. Williams merchandise – most importantly, their boots.

It’s quite spacious

The manager of this store, I think her name was Rita, has been working there for over 30 years and went to school with the original Reginald Williams’ son. Listening to her life story in her contact with the man behind the legend is not something you can get online.

There’s something uniquely special about meeting the people behind the product. Here’s a photo of my mum and I after purchasing a pair of rum coloured Comfort Craftsmans.

Can’t see my eyes lol

The Museum

The main attraction of the 5 Percy Street store is the collection of historical artefacts and stories presented in the museum at the back of the store. These stories include tales of how all of it came together and you can see the things that the early days of the company made.

Traditionally, as a bushman’s outfitter, R.M. Williams makes a lot of items for the workers in the country like whips and saddles. These are on display in the museum too. Here are some photos I took when I was there!

These are some pretty old boots!
A salt encrusted skull found in the outback. How cool!
Custom made size 17. Wow.
Boot sole screwing machine

It was a pretty small museum but the stories in it I read were pretty interesting.

The Factory Outlet

While in Adelaide, it’s always worth checking the outlet for factory seconds. There are two main places to go – the R.M. Williams official outlet or the factory outlet in Harbour Town.

Such a colourful display!

While I was there with my parents, they managed to snag a couple good deals they were happy with. My mum got a pair of chinchillas, my dad a pair of suede boots. I got a pair of burgundy greasy kip comfort craftsman for $199. What a steal. They were at the bottom of the bargain bin looking neglected, but I knew how to restore their colour with my polishing skills, so lucky me!

It was also funny taking note of what people were wearing on the streets while roaming around the city centre. Needless to say, there were a lot of R.M’s. To be expected for the birthing place of the brand!