With summer travel season upon us, and with many planning July Fourth getaways far and wide, here is our definitive roundup of the best cities for fruitful footwear pursuits, in no particular order.
With its heritage cobblers such as ballerina-maker E. Porselli as well as the cluster of both local and international luxury brands that line the Golden Triangle area of Via Monte Napoleone, Via della Spiga and adjacent streets (Via San’t Andrea, Via Gesù, Via Borgospesso), Italy’s fashion capital is still the world’s best place to go shopping for extravagant shoes. It helps that the service is particularly doting at stores such as Gucci, Gianvito Rossi, Casadei, Rene Caovilla and Santoni.
While Harrods made quite the splash in 2015 with the opening of its Shoe Heaven — widely considered the biggest shoe floor of any department store — lots of smaller boutiques make shopping in the British capital an endless delight. Matches, the popular e-destination, has a number of brick-and-mortar locations known for their unique edit, while Browns London often pegs the next big name before anyone else. Also check out English labels and Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton favorites such as Penelope Chilvers (who makes her beloved country riding boots) and L.K. Bennett (her go-to pumps). For the gents, it’s a dapper shoe-fest with labels such as Gieves & Hawkes, John Lobb, Grenson and Olivier Sweeney, turning out smart and timeless brogues, wingtips and Chelsea boots.
No visit to Spain is complete without stocking up on espadrilles, and this is their birthplace. Many local purveyors dot the city’s marketplaces, but the titan of them all is Castañer. While they manufacture the jute-soled summer shoes for Hèrmes, Paul Andrew, Valentino and others, they also have their own large line of spot-on styles. Visit the store on Rambla Cataluña and Paseo de Gracia.
Yes, to many it’s the shopping capital of the world, but most importantly, it’s home to Level Shoes, one helluva footwear fantasyland and reason enough to visit the city. The department-store concept is entirely devoted to shoes at every price point, such as flip-flops, custom croc loafers and everything in between. The brand assortment adds to the wonderland effect — from staple brands such as Chanel and Celine to a daring mix of new designers and limited-edition creations.
New York City
For a shoe brand, making it in New York is still a major feat. Madison Avenue is a top designer mecca, with Aquazzura recently opening up shop a stone’s throw from Louis Leeman, Jimmy Choo and Roger Vivier. And the three B’s (Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York and Bloomingdale’s) continue to dole out an endless supply of dream shoes. Want to see the stilettos fly? Go right now, during the sales season.