For shoe fanciers/devotees/fanatics whatever you want to call us – we can find divine shoes anywhere in the world but for those of us in the know, there are some essential (and sometimes lesser-known) places to include on any itinerary, that are guaranteed to deliver absolute shoe nirvana for those true devotees of the Sole!
We reveal our selection of the top 10 cities and their shoe precinct secrets to help you on your journey of the ‘Sole’.
Shoes made in Spain have a five-star reputation, and this is borne out in the city of Barcelona. Here the leather is great quality and the prices are not outrageous, and best of all, this quality tracks across all styles of shoes from ballet flats and boots to nosebleed high stilettos - Barcelona has got them all.
The key areas within the city’s CBD that will expose the shoe devotee to the biggest range of styles and prices are:
- Rambla Cataluña and Paseo de Gracia
- Uptown Maestro Nicolau, Bori Fontestá,
- Portal del Angel
- Via Augusta
In another Spanish speaking locale, Buenos Aires provides a huge range of high-quality leather at affordable prices. The Mecca for this Southern city of shoes is Calle Murillo - a street with leather shops that also offer extensive tailoring services. Murillo 666 is the most recognised, but there are a huge number within easy walking distance and these enable some competitive bartering opportunities. For discerning menfolk, Buenos Aires boasts the great Mocasines Guido - an institution since 1952 and a worldwide reputation, has enabled this shoe artisan to open three sites across the city.
Danish design sets and pushes boundaries and its capital Copenhagen, showcases this across its architecture, home wares, fashion and shoes. ILLUM’s Shoe Heaven in the city’s centre is the THE place to go to for any self-respecting shoe fanatic to get access to an incredible selection of international brands and design newcomers.
Whilst in Copenhagen be sure to visit Storm. Renowned as one of the leading lifestyle and fashion stores in Europe, Storm is much more than a retail space. With owner Rasmus Storm acting as driver and mediator, it is a conceptual platform where commercial and artistic expressions meet and new design concepts are embraced – so if you want to tread outside the box why not investigate some of Storm’s shoes where there is one pair where the outsole is inspired by an inner tube of an inflatable tyre.
This northern Italian town holds the monopoly on handcrafted footwear, and shoe shopping. In this great city full of cobbled streets and alleyways, your Pilgrimage for a one-of-a-kind, designed for just your foot, Holy Grail type of shoe will be satisfied. Stefano Bemer is the place for you to achieve this, and he will handcraft shoes onsite and then travel globally if you require any refitting sessions! This is true devotion and reverence for the ‘Sole’.
If you are travelling through Asian climes in particular Hong Kong, there are plenty of bespoke shopping experiences that include some local influences - a great place to do this is the Fang Fong Projects in Central Hong Kong. Stocking women’s fashion including great shoes from local label Fang Fong, this store blends contemporary design with tasteful Asian touches. If you are after some more hip locations for your shoe shopping, head to Star Street Precinct in Wanchai and St. Francis Yard.
While London can claim Oxford and Carnaby Streets and Savile Row as part of its fashion credentials, Regent Street and Jermyn Street offer a slightly more upmarket mid-priced shoe stores that will be sure to delight a follower of the ‘Sole’. Jermyn Street is renowned for men's clothing shops and is particularly well known for its bespoke shirt makers such as Benson & Clegg and shoe shops such as John Lobb.
New York and shopping are of course synonymous—with so many options, all budgets will find a way to spend way too much, and that is just on shoes. You can lose hours wandering around hip and groovy SoHo and pick up a big-name designer shoe bargain while you are there, or visit the big names of Prada and Chanel in their flash Fifth Avenue locations. If you are on Fifth Avenue, any shoe aficionado must visit the top floor of Saks – their shoe department is so large, it has earned its own zip code!
Paris houses flagship stores for some of the most renowned fashion labels in the world, most of which are located in the 8th arrondissement. Beyond these namesakes, head to the more hip-happening 3rd arrondissement like Merci for a mix of high fashion and quirky shoes; or the narrow, cobblestoned streets of Saint-Germain-des-Prés has a good selection of designer shoe stores well worth a visit.
“When in Rome…”
So to shop like the locals, make sure to head to the Via del Governo Vecchio— this is Rome’s answer to New York’s Soho. Like its American counterpart, this area is full of cobblestoned streets with plenty of smaller side streets to get lost in and lose a few hours in gentle shoe shopping pursuits. In this area is the Via dei Baullari, home to several great shoe shops. The best one is Loco – despite being small, there is still a good selection of great shoes. Loco stocks funky sneakers, crazy cool boots and stilettos.
As we outlined earlier, the people of Spain are pretty committed to their shoes, and if visiting Seville, a shoe fancier must head to Plaza El Salvador. Between the plaza on Calle Sagasta, shoe stores abound! Prices range from 10-200€ (depending on the make and quality) and there are many styles ranging from espadrilles to stilettos. Be sure to include the inner city shopping areas of Sierpes and Tetuan as well as in El Corte Inglés where there is a good selection of smaller, artisan shoe stores with original and unique brands that aren’t too expensive.
And Where Not to Wear Them...
So, we have sourced some lesser known locations for you to achieve shoe purchase Nirvana, but note the journey to reach this heightened state of shoe retail euphoria will require some serious foot slogging. Fortunately, apart from Paris and Rome, your Sole journey can be done in a more comfortable footwear. An appropriate sandshoe or walking shoe (no white sneakers - highlights your tourist status) is quite acceptable, particularly in New York where you will fit right in with the local office workers - remember Melanie Griffith in Working Girl.
In the immortal words of Nancy Sinatra, "Ready Boots? Start walking..."
For more international and domestic shopping/travelling insights, our Flight Centre consultants would love to help you, be sure to go into your local Flight Centre or call 131 600.