By Hart Hagerty
August 20, 2014
Credit: Courtesy of Suzhou Cobblers

The search for shoes—especially larger sizes—can sometimes send people walking circles around Shanghai. My preferred method of shoe shopping is going the custom-route at one of the city’s many local cobblers. For a fraction of the prices at luxury brands (around $150), expert craftsman can make spot-on copies of classic styles in two weeks. Artisans at capable cobbler shops like Yanye Handmade Shoes recreate custom pairs of equestrian boots, brogues, loafers, sandals, and ballet flats in a range of skins and leathers. Those who don’t have the patience or time required for custom can shop off-the-rack at local shops. Culture Matters specializes in retro Chinese brands like Warrior and comfortable kung fu sneakers like Feiyue. Want something a bit more polished? Shanghai is the hometown of Charles Philip Shanghai, the trendy Italian brand selling loafers and plimsolls from Bergdorf’s in New York to Colette in Paris. At its flagship store, shoe shoppers can customize their own pair in special fabrics.

Jack Peng

Jack Peng is where big business executives invest in timeless dress shoes. Shanghai’s king of cobblers is expensive (from $300), but he provides his VIP clients with the kind of A-list service a savvy dandy would expect on Savile Row. Peng is known for his meticulous production process to ensure the perfect fit. The ten-day process is kicked off by creating a wax mold of the client’s feet and is kept on file for their future creations.

Yanye Handmade Shoes

There are cheaper options than Yanye Handmade Shoes, but I’ve yet to find another cobbler who offers better value for money. My Hermes-inspired equestrian boots ($240) and brogues ($175) have earned so much mileage, I’ve had to resole them twice. With reasonable prices and reliable service, I recommend to Yanye to a lot of my friends.

Suzhou Cobblers

Suzhou Cobblers is beautiful little boutique on the Bund that sells traditional silk-embroidered slippers and dress shoes. They use only the finest Chinese silks from nearby Shanghai and employ specialized silk artisans to preserve one of China’s oldest, most-revered art forms. Luscious oriental ornaments for your feet, they are almost too pretty to risk wearing outside.

Charles Philip

Charles Philip Shanghai is a young brand focused on fashion-forward flat shoes for men and women. At its chic French Concession ‘maison,’ shoppers can create unique pairs with custom fabrics and tassels. Although having only launched a couple of years ago in Shanghai, the trend-setting brand is stocked by top-dog global retailers like 10 Corso Como and Net-A-Porter.