Some sources for shopping online for rare, unusual or vintage shoes -there's more than just eBay
Updated: Apr 28, 2021
I wanted to share a couple of sites that are worth a quick peruse for people interested in high-end footwear beyond the usual eBay browsing. As a longtime charity / thrift shop user, they are also really useful in identifying older or more obscure models and helping to gauge possible selling prices.
Note: I have no association or affiliation with any of the following sites. I just think they're neat.
The aptly named German-based Classic Shoes for Men deals exclusively in... uh... classic men's shoes. And boots. And the very occasional briefcase. Leather, basically. They deal exclusively in leather.
I stumbled across it a couple of years ago and try and check it daily. It serves as a really good archive of older shoe designs. Sevan - the site's owner - seems to have really good contacts in the industry, as consistently sourcing large amounts of mint condition deadstock from old or now-defunct brands, often including hard to find exotic leathers.
He's also clearly very knowledgeable about these old designs, and I particularly enjoy how evocative the writing is in the product descriptions, such as from these sharkskin boots:
"This particular pair in real Sharkskin, no doubt a special order, is, in my experience, one-of-a-kind, and this material is astonishing. I have seen sharkskin shoes that were utterly destroyed, the bottoms worn through to the cork, the welts coming off the shoe, utterly derelict….and the top still unblemished! There is a wonderful English comedy from the 1950’s, “The Man In The White Suit”, in which a chemist (Alec Guinness) invents an indestructible fiber, thinking it will be a godsend to mankind; no more worn out clothes. Of course he is hounded out of town by the manufactures and the worker both who fear for the end of an industry when all the world is clothed, once and for all. Our hero barely escapes with his life. Sharkskin is the equivalent to this fictitious fiber, the indestructible material, except that Sharkskin is real."
The prices are relatively competitive - a lot of the shoes they have are so unusual that it's hard to compare them like-for-like to eBay pricing, and frankly, a lot of it falls more into collector or museum territory than everyday office-wear. They also appear to put a lot of effort into thorough sizing notes and offer a pretty good no-quibble returns policy.
The punnily named Savvyrow has been a daily check-in for some years now. They specialise in second-hand but generally good condition bespoke menswear, with a preference for Savile Row or Row-trained tailors.
They also get the occasional drop of footwear that is worth a look. There have been some really nice bespoke pieces over the years, and it's always really interesting seeing it drop in as you can tell it's come as a batch from the same owner. It fuels my voyeuristic nosiness to have an insight into another man's wardrobe.
My only substantial issue with them is how they can sometimes be very "charitable" about the condition of the garments and shoes. I've seen things with huge gashes, stains and bits falling off called "Very Good" condition, and their "Good" condition generally seems to mean "Good from a distance of about 20ft".
I like that these things are finding a second home though, and it's much better than them going in the bin. The fact that these pieces are still holding together speaks to the build quality in the first place, and nobody can deny the character they have - the worn-down nature of some of the pieces probably speaks to some "old money" sensibilities about repairing rather than replacing.
Pricing can be variable - I've bought a couple of shoes from them in the past that have been excellently priced, but other times I'll see things are comfortably twice what I'd expect to pay on eBay. Bespoke tailoring and footwear is a hard area for pricing - the depreciation in value from retail to resale value is massive, often because the pieces are so distinct to the original owner's taste. Fitting is obviously a complete gamble too.
Okay, so not wanting to toot my own horn but I think I know a decent amount about different shoemakers. Looking at this site was a sobering reminder that I basically know nothing in the grand scheme of things and that all human endeavour is meaningless and life is a grinding entropic void of nothingness.
The Brands A-Z features what I think is the most comprehensive list of shoemakers I've ever seen. There's some really good information on smaller, bespoke makers, while larger brands have a decent amount of historical background.
Sadly it seems like the site is largely defunct now - I don't know when the list was last updated, so I'd expect any makers that have emerged in the last 2 years to potentially be absent. The content pages haven't been updated since 2017 at least.
Anyone else have any go-to sites? Obviously please disclose any interest or associations you have with the sites so this doesn't become a list of people's own blogs.