Hello everyone! In this week’s feature, I’ll be rounding up local establishments for you to get dress shoes from. Yes – there are homegrown efforts specialising in dress shoes! Instead of getting your shoes from run of the mill places such as Aldo and Ecco, do consider supporting these local enterprises instead!
Without further ado, these are 8 places in Singapore where you can get bang for buck dress shoes.
The most affordable option on the list at just $108 SGD (after promo code below), Arden Teal probably offers the most affordable full-grain calf leather shoes on the market!
Who are they: “We (team at Arden Teal) were growing weary of the traditional retail experience for buying a good pair of men’s shoes. We searched for options that delivered aesthetics at a price we could relate to, but grew needlessly impatient with our encounters. We started this company at the heel of a problem we knew wasn’t unique to us. We wanted to curate products we were proud of. Impressively designed, high quality shoes that could be conveniently accessed at an easy price..”
My opinion: If you’re searching for bang-for-buck dress shoes, I’ll highly recommend Arden Teal. At just a little over $100, you get a durable shoe made of full-grain calf leather! The walking experience in them is surprisingly comfortable as well, with rubber swathes applied to key areas of the outsole to aid traction. In addition, Arden Teal includes accessories such as a dust cover and a shoe horn with every purchase as well – something uncommon at this price point. For my detailed opinions, do read my review of Arden Teal here!
Price: Starts at $108 (after promo code). As Arden Teal is an official affiliate partner of Wah So Shiok, simply quote “WAHSOSHIOK” upon checkout to enjoy 10% off all shoes store-wide!
Location: Arden Teal shoes can be bought online here.
Similar to Arden Teal, Earnest & Collective represents the affordable end of the spectrum on this list.
Who are they: “Earnest & Collective is built on honesty, modern convenience and the passion to make great quality shoes affordable for the everyday man.”
My opinion: Earnest & Collective makes for a great starter pair of dress shoes. For those who don’t wear dress shoes often, but still want quality shoes (students, non-office workers), I believe Earnest & Collective is a great choice for around $100. Unlike most mainstream options at that price range (Pedro, Aldo, etc), they use full grain vegetable tanned leather that has been hand-colored, making the shoe look much more expensive than it really is.
Price: Starts at $129, though they hold sales from time to time at $99.
Location: On display at Stitched Custom, 193A Kitchener Road #02-01, S(208534)
3) Ed Et Al
Founded way back in 2010, Ed Et Al is one of the local pioneers in the market.
Who are they: “Founded in 2010, we are a Singaporean company of shoemakers, artisans, retailers and menswear enthusiasts. We specialise in the making, sourcing, servicing and retail of high quality leather dress shoes for men. We have operated and experimented since our inception at all levels of the market, from affordable Ready To Wear to exclusive bespoke and handcrafted shoes. We now firmly believe through our experience that good quality products does not need to come with impossible price tags.”
My opinion: What I like most about Ed Et Al is the range of their offerings. From affordable, ready-to-wear shoes to made-to-order services, they offer it all. Despite getting hit by a slew of complaints over long lead times in 2016, they have since pivoted and bounced back since then (read the founder’s note here). In fact, business has rebounded to a level whereby they just opened a multi-label concept at Raffles City Level 3, called GUILD. I for one, was glad to see this old brand managing to recover successfully!
Prices: Ready-to-wear starts at $189, Made-to-Order $289.
Location: 120 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068589, second floor. Guild is located at #03-21A, Raffles City, 252 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 179103
4) Marx B.
Probably the most recognizable name on the list, Marx B. has been around since 2007.
Who are they: “Inspired by the big names in the shoe industry, Marx B. was started only for a reason, to bring in exquisitely designed shoes to meet the aspirations of the ever trendy, dandy men of Asia. Marx B. aims to provide you with the style you yearn for, the comfort that you seek and providing you value for your penny. With passion as shoe lovers ourselves, we commit to deliver high standards with only quality materials used for our shoes. We want our shoes to walk this journey with you.”
My opinion: I see Marx B. as the dandier alternative to Ed Et Al. While both are in the same price range (for ready-to-wear), Ed Et Al’s offerings are more formal, suitable to the office, whereas Marx B.’s designs are more whimsical and flamboyant. If you’re an Oscar Wilde or Elton John at heart, this would be the place to go!
Prices: Ready-to-wear shoes start at $189.
Location: Marina Bay Link Mall (below MBFC), 8A Marina Boulevard B2-34, Singapore 018984, Vivo City 01-96/97 Singapore 098585
Previously called Donovan’s, CustomMade offers made-to-order shoes at an affordable pricing.
Who are they: “Quality Custom Shoes At A Truly Affordable Price. CustomMade’s mission is to simplify and personalize your shoe shopping experience. Some will simply call it a shoe. We call it The CustomMade Experience.”
My opinion: I might be wrong, but at $250, CustomMade probably offers the most affordable Made-to-order dress shoes in the market. Amongst all the shoe brands listed here (with the possible exception of Josh Leong), I find their brand story one of the most compelling and personal. You can read the CustomMade story (which founder Donovan chronicled in detail) here. I love the fact that Donovan roped his mother and younger brother in to help run this business – yes, CustomMade is in many senses a family business! For more detailed opinions, do read my review of CustomMade here!
Prices: Made-to-order shoes start from $250.
Location: 82 TELOK AYER ST, #02-04, S048467
While Straits Establishment technically don’t have their own shoe label, it is a Singaporean effort that focuses on shoe care products and of course, shoes.
Who are they: “Officially established in 2014 and based in Singapore, we are a boutique firm focusing on curating and developing brands in South East Asia. We are the official Sole Saphir distributor for Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei and represent Saphir Medaille d’Or, Saphir Beaute Du Cuir, La Cordonnerie Anglaise and Avel within the region. We also operate a menswear boutique, focusing on a curated range of mens’ apparel and accessories. We believe in a curated dichotomy where heritage influences are infused with modern sensibilities.”
My opinion: If you’re looking for a one-stop place where you can get a pair of quality dress shoes and fulfill your shoe-care needs, Straits Establishment is probably the best place! They also hold workshops such as shoe polishing and leather crafting from time to time. At Straits Establishment, there’s almost a sort of reverence dedicated to taking care of leather – certainly refreshing in today’s world of fast fashion!
Prices: Ready-to-wear shoes start from $280.
Location: Suntec City Mall, #01-467, North Atrium, Tower 1 (Opposite Pasar Bella Market)
Now we are treading into bespoke territory.
Who are they: “Diamond Walker is a bespoke shoe brand from Singapore specializing in quality leather shoes for men, offering full customizations with made-to-measure services. Headquartered in Singapore, our shoes are designed by leading designers and handmade by craftsmen in Seoul. We make the finest bespoke men’s shoes with quality craftsmanship & materials and have the widest range of styles to suit any occasion, any mood and fashion style.”
My opinion: Despite having been in the industry for only 6 years, this Singaporean brand has managed to carve out a niche for themselves with truly bespoke shoe options. Their shoes are highly popular with celebrities, and have been featured on various runways in New York, Paris, Milan, Seoul and Singapore! They also collaborate with luxury brands such as Panerai and Rolls-Royce – not bad for a relatively young brand! For someone who has already made it in the world, a pair of Diamond Walker shoes would complement your outfits impeccably.
Prices: Enquire at boutique.
Location: 277 Orchard Road, #04-03 orchardgateway, Singapore 238858
While all of the above local shoe efforts are highly commendable, none of them actually make the shoes themselves here on our sunny shores. Josh Leong is the sole exception.
Who are they: “Josh Leong is a Singaporean bespoke shoemaker based in Singapore. His passion for leather and love for shoes led him to Florence, Italy, where he did a bespoke shoemaking apprenticeship at the renowned, Italian bespoke shoemaking brand Stefano Bemer. Upon returning from Italy, Josh Leong established his own brand of shoes in Singapore in 2015, specialising in hand-welted Made-To-Order (MTO) and Bespoke shoes. Trained in the traditional, Italian techniques of shoemaking, Josh Leong makes every pair of shoes completely by hand – Shoes are lasted by hand, hand-welted, and outsoles are hand-stitched. Only premium grade leathers from France, Italy and Germany are imported and used in the making of each pair of Josh Leong shoes. This ensures that the shoes are not just beautiful out of the box, but remain beautiful for years to come.”
My opinion: I may be wrong (do correct me otherwise), but I believe that Josh Leong is the only bespoke shoemaker who does everything by hand here in Singapore – no outsourcing to anyone else, anywhere else. Each shoe takes more than 70 hours of handiwork by the man himself! In today’s society where most go down the path of holding on to a conventional career path (banker, lawyer, doctor, etc), I’m heartened to see a relatively young gentleman going down the craftsmanship route. Like watchmaking and tailoring, shoemaker is a craft that’s dying out in Singapore – Josh Leong shoes may be the last contemporary bastion of shoemaking here. For labors of love, go to Josh Leong and support your local craftsman in the process!
Prices: Please contact Josh Leong Shoes to enquire.
Location: 17A Circular Road (Level 2), Singapore 049373
I hope you guys have enjoyed reading this list of local shoe brands! In my daily interactions with my peers, I realise that most still turn to outlets like Aldo or Ecco for their dress shoes needs. Even for those with more spending power, many are still getting their shoes from luxury outlets in high-end shopping malls (Berluti, Ermenegildo Zegna, etc). Again, there’s nothing wrong with that – but why not give your local shoe efforts a try? Most of these efforts are bootstrap projects, with the founders pouring everything they have (money, sweat and tears) into their passion. If we Singaporeans won’t support them, who will?
P.S Do check out the new “Discounts!” page for exclusive discounts for Wahsoshiok readers! More brands will be added very soon – stay tuned!
P.S.S If you like my content, do consider donating a small sum! After much consternation I’ve decided to remove Google ads from the website so as to give viewers the best reading experience possible. An average review here garners about 1000 views – if everyone just donates a dollar, it would go a long way to maintaining this website! The donation link can be found here.
Nigel Gomes, @the_lone_cadre
Channel News Asia