Want something uniquely Sydney Australian? Look no further than our very own Andrew McDonald in The Strand Arcade.
When you enter his shop, it is obvious that the focus is entirely on his creations. When talking to him, it is clear that he is very proud of his work and he is more than open to answering questions like where he sources his leather from, how he thinks he compares with other shoe makers and any other ideas that he has got in the works.
Shopping isn’t always about the product. It’s about the relationship with the creator and you, hopefully someone who can appreciate the hard work and effort in their craft. At its core, this shoe shop is about the relationship developed over time as you come back to just have a chat, bond over shoes and perhaps even try on a new shoe design.
The shoes are all designed by Andrew. The cheaper ones ($350 to $795) are then made in a factory and sent back to the workshop to be sold and the more expensive pairs ($1000+) are created by hand in the workshop in The Strand Arcade.
His shoes are very comfortable. Compared to Crockett and Jones bench grade shoes, I would say Andrew McDonald’s shoes are actually more comfortable. In terms of quality and construction, in my opinion, they are between the Crockett and Jones and Edward Green shoes.
His choice of shoe construction varies from design to design with a healthy mixture of blake stitched and Goodyear welted. I personally prefer Goodyear welt construction.
I love the sound of the leather soles as they strike the ground. There is just something unique in the timbre and sound of Andrew’s shoes that I don’t get with other brands. It sounds good. It feels good.
I haven’t tried his bespoke services yet, but he also offers this as an option for customers who really want that extra oomph. You get to work with Andrew in the design and creation of your shoe, catered to the shape of your foot, inclusive of all orthotic needs, with your own unique last and design specifications.
The Derby Boot
This was my first purchase from Andrew and is one of my favourite of his designs. It is a round toe, derby boot that is Goodyear welted and is super comfortable. I just love it.
This is Andrew’s take on the classic Goodyear welted, cap toe oxford. The shoe just fits perfectly with my feet and I feel like I am walking on clouds in these shoes. The clack of the leather soles hitting the ground just sounds executively superior.
The Sovereign Wingtips
Another classic style, the wingtip brogue. I love the look of these shoes and they share the same sound as the Beauford shoes as they hit the ground.
The Green Petrolio Foldover Shoe
Andrew loves to come up with unique and experimental designs that you will not get anywhere else. These shoes are special in every way. Not only are they green, but the laces wrap themselves around and under the shoe – what an eccentric and quirky look! The leather is also sourced from horse, but is not the same as cordovan.
Where To From Here
The last time I talked to Andrew, he told me about some designs that are in the works. I can’t wait to go back and check them out when they are ready!
Since my last purchase, he has put out a design of the classic quarter brogue, cap toe oxford with Goodyear welting as well as hidden channel stitching. I love how he continually innovates and designs new shoes that each year, you cannot possibly go into the shop and say you’ve seen it before.
I know a lot of people who have spoken to me about his shoes criticise the upward inflection of the sole, but be assured that over time it flattens out as the shoe shape conforms to your foot. Nothing to worry about.
Andrew McDonald is located in The Strand Arcade on level 2. Check out his products at www.andrewmcdonald.com.au.