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.
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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
Just a brief stop, some nice shoes here. A mix of Blake Stitch and Goodyear welt shoes, ranging from calf leathers to reptile.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Kow Hoo Shoe Co.
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!
Cya Hong Kong!
Til next time 🙂