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.
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!
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.
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 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:
Here is a short video that I made about them:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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!
Here’s a video review and shine that I did for this pair!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
In Sydney, the access to Japanese artisanal expertise is rare.
In today’s globalised society, we often don’t think about where things come from, how they were created or who made them as long as they look good. Such is the case with men’s fashion with items such as suits, ties and shoes. To the untrained eye, the marketing ploys and beautiful model photos distract us from asking the questions that matter. What is the quality like?
Choose Something Different
In 2019, Australia’s suit market is littered with many affordable brands such as M.J. Bale, T.M. Lewin and Suit Supply before you hit the echelons of Ermenegildo Zegna or Tom Ford. They’re the names that everyone brings up when a discussion about suits is brought up.
However, just because something exists doesn’t mean it’s the best.
So when I find myself in these discussions, I like to recommend someone different to the usual: Japanese expert in all things sartorial, Kaz of Kazuna. With over 30 years experience in the industry and hailing from a Japanese background and work ethic, he is a hidden gem of Sydney. You can read more about his bio on his website. We are lucky to have him operate his business in Sydney instead of somewhere else like Melbourne.
With Kaz’s services, I am assured of the utmost quality. He knows where things are made, how they’re made, who they’re made by and most importantly, he doesn’t lie about how you would look. He genuinely wishes the best for his customers and all questions about his products is met with full transparency.
Kaz mainly offers a made-to-measure service for shirts, denim jeans, suits and shoes. He also sells leather goods such as wallets and business folders. This post will focus on the products that I have personally ordered.
As of right now, he has temporarily moved his services away from a brick and mortar store. He meets his clients who make a booking in person for fittings and consultations.
Like many made-to-measure suiting services, the journey starts with a measurement, leads into the joyous process of choosing your personal style of fabric, types of functional buttons, lining, colour – you name it – and ends with a final fitting process when the suit is made. This is not to be confused with Bespoke services.
From Kazuna I have a midnight blue three piece suit that is fully canvassed with purple lining made with fabric from Kuzuri Keori, est. 1912. He offers other options as well, but I opted for the Japanese fabric. Getting this anywhere else will require a flight to Japan!
He uses the proprietary measuring system designed by Miyagi-Kogyo that caters for 17 lengths and 6 widths to measure the feet. This is followed by a trial walk in a test shoe of that size. With these shoes, there are also some customisable options that you can have fun with.
You can choose the type of leather (kip, d’Annonay calf, reptile, python, cordovan), the colour, the style of welting, the profile of the welt, the leather lining colour, the type of shoe laces, the sole and heel, and of course the style of the shoe.
Here are the shoes that I have:
The kip leather is tougher and more durable than the calf leather but there is also a price difference in the two. When shining these pairs, they both take in the polishes well and it is relatively easy to produce a nice, reflective shine.