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Victoria Dining Guide

Victoria Dining Guide

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Clothing

Shopping for the Best Men’s Shoes in Victoria, BC

When I ask men where they shop for stylish shoes in Victoria, many develop a pained or perplexed expression. The most common response is a mildly sarcastic “Vancouver.”

Honey often laments the lack of shoe-shopping options for Victoria men, certainly as compared to the smorgasbord of women’s shoes. (See my article on the Best Shoe Stores for Women in Victoria.) My research confirms the disparity. There isn’t one shoe store in the city exclusively for men. What’s worse, some very good shoe shops that were unisex a few years ago—Footloose, Cobbler—have found greater profitability in selling only to women.

 

Keith Gage-Cole, owner of Heart & Sole on Cook Street, explains the problem.

“Men just don’t buy shoes like women do,” he says. “A woman will come in, find a pair she likes and that fit well, and she’ll buy them. A man will come in, find a pair he likes and that fit well, and leave saying, ‘I’ll think about it.’ Men wait to buy until the sale price is below my own cost!”

So, gentlemen. If you want better shoe selection in Victoria, you need to buy more shoes. That’s not such a hardship, is it? And let me tell you, your wives, girlfriends, and boyfriends will notice. Women I spoke with told me they definitely notice a man’s shoes—both the style and the condition—and a fashionable, well-heeled man is an attractive man. Gage-Cole says gay men are his most foot-fashionable and trendsetting clients.

So do men really have to spend $100 to ferry to Vancouver for good shoes? Actually, no. Victoria has several good men’s stores that stock some beautiful boots and shoes. Your selection will be limited to 20 or fewer styles in most shops. And brace yourself for sticker-shock on the most fashionable, top-quality lines: sales are few and far between. But if you factor the ferry savings of shopping on the Island, you can get outfitted in some very handsome Fluevogs, Hugo Boss, Pikolinos, David J. Pliner, or Cole Haan shoes here in town, if you know where to look.

This stylin’ little Cook Street shoe store carries men’s and women’s footwear. Sturdy and ever-so-stylish Fluevog shoes from Vancouver designer John Fluevog dominate the men’s collection…in a good way. You’ll also find select men’s styles from Birkenstock, Tsubo, Mephisto, Josef Seibel, and others. Guys: if you buy only one high-quality pair of shoes or boots this season, get them here. The owner swears he is going to stop stocking men’s shoes altogether if sales don’t improve.

This is Honey’s favourite menswear store in Victoria, and of all the shops we visited for this article, he liked the shoes here best. Outlooks stocks some wonderfully stylish Fluevog boots and shoes, carrying somewhat edgier styles and colours than Heart & Sole. They also had men’s shoes from To Boot of New York City and Grenson of England. Be prepared to spend $240-$450 for a shoe purchase here.

After a visit to Outlooks, it makes sense to pop into Hughes, just up the block on Yates Street. I was surprised to find so few men’s shoes at Hughes, though, since the entire second floor is devoted to men’s designer clothing. They had a couple of pairs of casual Belstaff leather running shoes, echoing their line of gorgeous Belstaff motorcycle jackets (what man can’t picture himself in one of these?). There were also shoes by Tiger of Sweden, priced around the $250 mark, and by Ted Baker for around $325. Selection is definitely very limited here.

I’m willing to wager that Philip Nyren is the only clothing store in Victoria that has its own magazine. (Check out Philip Nyren magazine here.)  Knowing that should prepare you somewhat for the pricing stratosphere of this tony clothier for men and women.

I was impressed with the handsome, manly brands of footwear at Philip Nyren: Hugo Boss, Kenneth Cole, Eduardo G., Cole Haan (partnered with Nike Air for style with comfort), and sleek Italian numbers from Donald J. Pliner. For the fall/winter season, the emphasis is on boots, and I would LOVE to see Honey kicking around town in some marvellous Mark Nason boots, the first I’ve seen to rival my passion for Fluevogs.

For those savvy B.C. residents who have a Friends of the Empress membership (see my full article about the perks of this free loyalty club), show your card at Philip Nyren when you make a purchase of $250 or more and they’ll give a $25 gift card to use at The Fairmont Empress Hotel.

  • VIBERG BOOT MANUFACTURING LTD. (www.workboot.com), 662 Herald St., Victoria, BC

What better footwear to make a fashion statement in Victoria than boots crafted right here in Victoria? I admit, I’d only ever glanced in through the front window of the seemingly small boot-making shop on Herald Street. I truly had no idea that Viberg Boots designs boots for the Japanese fashion market.

If you thought they specialized in steel-toed work boots and footwear for hikers and hunters, well, you’re right—they do that, too. They also make motorcycle boots and cowboy boots. But their latest enterprise is the new Viberg Street Collection, “made exclusively for the Japanese fashion market and distributed to select boutique stores in Asia, Europe, and North America.”

  • WALKERS SHOES (250-381-8608), 1012 Broad, Victoria, BC.

A small, shoes-only store on the south side of the Bay Centre. About the same square footage as Heart & Sole, Walkers carries somewhat more comfortably casual shoes, though still high-quality. Nice options from Mephisto, Pikolinos, Rohde, Naot, and Lloyd.

  • SIMPLY THE BEST (250-386-6661), 1008 Broad, Victoria, BC

Because it’s practically next door, after you visit Walkers you should really step into Simply the Best, if just for your amusement. This is where men with money come to spoil themselves. Among the assortment of fine watches, buttery leather gloves, silver pens and business-card holders, I saw only two pairs of shoes. My eyes bugged as I turned over the price tag on the Metzlan genuine crocodile-leather dress shoes, handmade in Spain: $1,325, about the cost of a Manolo Blahnik splurge for women.

This co-ed mall outlet contains some nice surprises for men and a decent selection among the women’s shoes. The mix includes Lacoste, Diesel, G-Star, Kenneth Cole, Penguin, and Calvin Klein, among others. I was impressed by the array of Blundstone boots. Note: a helpful reader advises me that Town Shoes’ sister store in Millstream, The Shoe Company, is one of the few stores that carry size 16 dress shoes for men.

  • WALK IN COMFORT, four locations, Victoria, BC.

Once upon a time, I veered away from Walk in Comfort stores, expecting a selection of staid, vaguely orthopaedic shoe styles. If that ever was the case, it isn’t now. With outlets in the Mayfair and Hillside malls, downtown on Fort Street and in Oak Bay, Walk in Comfort stocks brands that are both comfortable and stylish: Ecco, Merrell, Rockport, Clarks, and more.

This chain store in the Bay Centre carries brands similar to those at Freedman Shoes, but FeetFirst has a smaller selection, and, generally, stocks shoes of lighter, less-sturdy quality. On the flip side, prices start out lower and sales are frequent.

This fashionable clothing boutique recently split in two, turning this original location into a men’s only store. The shoe styles for men have always been interesting, and now there’s room for more. On my last visit, I admired some stylish leather “officer boots” from Timberland’s upscale Abington collection, as well as the Fitzsimmons boot from Native Shoes in eye-catching colours: academy blue (shown here), bottle-cap gray, zucchini green, and trail brown. These street-hiker lace-up boots have a removable neoprene “sock” inside, and apparently can be worn barefoot quite comfortably.

This shop in Victoria’s Estevan Village positions its menswear collection as “an unexpected twist on today’s modern classics.” I like any shop willing to define itself as “a smart men’s haberdashery.” Citizen carries a small but carefully chosen selection of men’s shoes; at last visit, they had Paraboot, Duckie Brown for Florshiem, and the limited edition John Varvatos for Converse.

Before I started writing this article, I’d never been to SoftMoc. The odd name is a hangover from when the company sold only moccasins. While they still carry the soft leather mocs for men and women, I was thoroughly surprised to discover they carry quite a few quality men’s lines—Kenneth Cole, Born, Mephisto, Clarks, Rockport—often at better prices than you’ll find elsewhere. Look here for Blundstone boots and Dr. Martens.

Only at Baggins can the men of Victoria enjoy the same giddy abundance of shoe styles that women generally take for granted. This is Converse Central, from high tops to low tops, for men, women, and children. These running shoes are funky classics, available in colourful designs from playful to artful. I can’t decide which I love more: the new Dr. Seuss line, with the Cat in the Hat and characters Thing 1 and Thing 2, or the Rock & Roll series, with groovy designs representing the Ramones, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, AC/DC, and other rock legends. Note: Watch for sales at Baggins, which can be sensational. Right now, they are clearing out their Vans runners at 50% off.

What Baggins does for Converse runners, HtO does for Vans and other skater shoes. The selection is pretty dazzling, and there’s even an Ht0 skateboarding blog. And guys, if you need flipflops for summer or a tropical vacation, HtO carries dozens.

The footwear is very casual at Ocean River Sports, as you might expect from a kayaking outfitter, but they stock more styles that I’d imagined. Among the more typical outdoor lines—Teva, Keen, Timberland—they also carry Blundstone boots, and quite a large collection of waterproof Bogs. These breathable neoprene rubber boots come in many styles—though the decorative options for women are much more stylin’ than the pedestrian black boots for men.

  • FIELD’S SHOES LTD. (250-388-5921), 1300 Government, Victoria, BC

Honey and I have noticed the men’s selection at Field’s Shoes is subtly shrinking by the season as the assortment of women’s shoes expands. Vote with your dollars to let this retailer know you still want good men’s footwear in Victoria. Brands include Palladium boots, Ecco, Timberland, and the like.

  • HEART’S CONTENT (250-380-1234), 18 Fan Tan Alley, Victoria, BC.

Victoria’s go-to place for the best selection of Dr. Martens and a very limited selection of other European imports.

You may be genuinely surprised what you’ll find in the menswear department at Capital Iron. They carry a large selection of Palladium boots, as well as the Timberland brand, Rocketdog, Dish, and more. Watch for sales, which can offer deep discounts.

  • ALDO (www.aldoshoes.com), Hillside Shopping Centre, Bay Centre, Mayfair Mall, Victoria, BC. Also Millstream Village, Langford.

What can I say about Aldo shoes for men? In a town hungry for style, Aldo does push the margins and try some fashion risks, and they stock almost as many men’s shoes as they do women’s shoes. Sales are frequent and discounts are deep. Unfortunately, you get what you pay for; quality is poor and discomfort is common.

Men’s Ed Hardy running shoes show up at Winners; so do Australian UGG boots, along with the occasional pair of fine Italian dress shoes. As always with this fashion outlet store, it’s a throw of the dice whether you’ll find something you like in your size. Prices for better-quality shoes, while they are marked down considerably from full retail, often hover around the $80-100 mark—which, to me, doesn’t feel like a true steal when the choices are this limited. But if you visit often, you’re bound to make a real find eventually.

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27 comments to Shopping for the Best Men’s Shoes in Victoria, BC

  • Fergus Kyne

    Don’t forget Kane Straith’s Fine Men’s Wear in St. Andrew’s square, definitely more high end but a great selection and unparalleled service and advice.

  • anitabean

    Thank you, Fergus. That is one men’s store I had overlooked, so I really appreciate your comment.
    Cheers,
    Anita

  • Great footwear round up. Perhaps a trip to see us in the future? We currently carry Paraboot, Duckie Brown for Florshiem and the limited edition John Varvatos for Converse.

  • anitabean

    Hi Patrick.
    Thanks so much for your note. I’m glad you enjoyed the article, and I appreciate you letting me know about Citizen Clothing. It’s new to me, and I’m definitely going to check it out! Is your stock all menswear, or both men’s and women’s? How many different styles of men’s shoes do you typically carry at any given time?
    All the best,
    Anita

  • Thanks for highlighting our store and our sister store, Footloose, and drawing positive attention to the men’s shoe business in Victoria. We endeavour to provide a decent but modest selection of stylish and comfortable shoes for men without compromising on quality. This inevitably causes sticker shock in some men who see footwear as an insignificant part of their wardrobe. Just about any woman would say that she checks out a man’s shoes, their style and condition, and agrees that shoes do make the man that much more attractive. He would do well to take note of this fact and support local retailers with that in mind.

  • Sarah

    THANK YOU!!! I’m trying to help my new to Victoria sweetie find shoes for our wedding, and he is extremely difficult to fit! Now hear are some options. Happy to hear Heart-and-Sole are still doing men shoes, don’t give up so fast! The abundance of worn out or skater shoes in this town is sad….

  • anitabean

    Thanks so much for your message, Sarah. I’m delighted that my post about men’s footwear will help your fiance look his best on your wedding day. :) All the best to you both!
    Anita

  • JeffW

    Hi, what a great list! Many thanks! Now I have a longer list of places to go check out. … Funnily enough, though, you missed one of the places i have bought a few pairs of boots and shoes at: Heart’s Content in Fantan Alley. :) they have a modest, careful selection of English and European styles. I haven’t been in for a while, but am thinking about it for some personal Christmas shopping, and retail shoe therapy. :)

    Thanks again!

  • Thanks for your terrific feedback, Jeff. Happy shoe shopping!
    Cheers,
    Anita

  • Jordan

    Hi im originally from alberta and have been wearing western style cowboy boots since i was little, and i have many pairs, however only one pair out here in victoria, so my question is, do you guys have any suggestions for a awesome cowboy boot store? Or western style shop??? Having troubles finding anything.

    Thanx

  • Hi Jordan,

    You’re right. Victoria is in seriously short supply of Western wear retailers these days. There are no “awesome cowboy boot stores” anywhere in the city. To get that, you’ll need to ferry over to Vancouver for some shopping.

    In the suburb of Cloverdale, Stampede Tack & Western Wear http://www.stampede.ca/ claims to stock “over 3,000 pairs of cowboy boots” in a 10,000 square foot showroom, as well as “Cowboy Hats, Wrangler Jeans, belts & buckles, jewelry” and “a complete selection of English and Western Tack, Equipment & Apparel.”

    On Vancouver Island, you might try driving up to Duncan to visit The Equine Emporium http://www.equineemporium.com/index.html which supposedly sells Western wear. I can’t attest to that, personally, as I’ve never been.

    In Victoria, your only real options for picking up a pair of Western boots is to visit the local consignment and vintage stores and try your luck. I’ve seen men’s cowboy boots at the downtown Salvation Army store, Value Village, Out of the Closet Renew Boutique, and The Patch on Yates.

    Good luck with your search!

    Cheers,

    Anita

  • Drew Thorburn

    I’m looking for 2 pair of:
    Merrill
    Phaser Inferno Dark Brown
    Size 13 US
    model 0210 or J53651

  • aimee

    where to buy cowboy boot for men in Victoria BC??

  • Hi Aimee,

    It is hard to find cowboy boots in Victoria, as there are no dedicated Western wear retailers anymore. You might try the local consignment and vintage stores. From time to time, I have seen men’s cowboy boots at the downtown Salvation Army store, Value Village, Out of the Closet Renew Boutique, and The Patch on Yates.

    If you’re willing to make a trip over to Vancouver, Stampede Tack & Western Wear http://www.stampede.ca/ in Cloverdale apparently stocks “over 3,000 pairs of cowboy boots” in a 10,000 square foot showroom.

    On Vancouver Island, The Equine Emporium http://www.equineemporium.com/index.html in Duncan supposedly sells Western wear. I can’t attest to that, personally, as I’ve never been.

    Good luck with your shopping.

    Cheers,

    Anita

  • Jordan

    Hi there, thank you for the useful information on shoe shopping in Victoria. However, just thought I’d let you know, if this is a site you update, that the Field’s Outlet (was great for high-end shoes that are at a discount because of a slow-mover, off season, etc) is now closed, so you may want to remove their listing. As well, the phone number for Yates Street Shoes was no longer in Service. I called these stores today to inquire about any on-sale Ecco boots for the coming winter. Field’s, who had the only phone number that worked of the 3 stores on Yates, said they may have Eccos on sale closer to Christmas, for any here who are interested.

    Thank you,

    Jordan in Nanaimo, BC

  • Thanks for this fantastic feedback, Jordan. You’ve prompted me to make some updates to the entire article.
    Cheers, Anita

  • Jane Nahirny

    Don’t forget about “Walk in Comfort.” They have six stores (four in Victoria, including Fort St., Mayfair Mall, Hillside Mall, and Oak Bay), plus stores in Sidney and Nanaimo). They offer great shoes for men, with brands like Ecco, Merrell, Rockport, Clarks, and more. Great service, too! Not to mention stylin’ women’s shoes and boots, to keep the other half happy. And we know how important that is, right?

  • [...] (Don’t worry, guys. I haven’t forgotten about you. Click here to read my round-up of the best places for men to buy shoes in Victoria.) [...]

  • Samuel

    If I want a quality pair of dress shoes, I am severely limited in Victoria.

    There are really only three places that sell top-quality dress shoes for men in Victoria. Outlooks is great! Ingledews is good, but getting worse (they’re paring down on the selection of Allen Edmonds). Kane Straith is okay, but you have to order a pair in from the UK (C&J, I think) and that takes time and the prices are astronomical. Philip Nyren is alright, with lots of selection of bicycle- and split-toe designs.

    Wastes of time include: Aldo, the Bay, Heart & Sole, SoftMoc, Winners.

    Don’t shop at Aldo, please.

  • Thanks for sharing your knowledgable experience, Samuel. Happy New Year!
    Cheers,
    Anita

  • Jason

    Thank you for this page. It has been very informative. I have to agree with Samuel that quality pair of dress/casual boots are almost impossible to find in Victoria. I will only comment on shoes/boots, not shirts/ties/accessories.

    What constitute as quality? Something like Alden, Tricksters, Viberg etc. My intention was to find a pair of Alden 405 (Indy) boots.

    Outlook … nice store, selection of shoes are diverse but limited. Wish he carried more Allen Edmonds and different style. He has New York to Boot, and Florsheim. In my opinion, Florsheim is junk. You can see glue residue on the welt. Owner didn’t offer me alternatives or other routes. He kept telling me to come back in the spring/summer.

    Citizen … very small selection that really didn’t wow me at all. He carries Converse and other brands that was not worth remembering. They recently just brought in some Wolverine 1000 mile at 395, kind of wish the girl didn’t make me rush into a decision. I got weird feet so it takes me a while of walking around in store before I decide on a pair. They must have thought I was going to make a break for it. Thinking long and hard about going back and buying those Wolverine.

    Kane Straith Fine’s Clothing … no website, very cramp/disorganize, shoes are very limited. I think their Nordstrom brand starts at 295, and he had an Italian brand that starts at 595 which I liked. He does special orders on Alden but no stock on site. Very helpful gentleman.

    Viberg … specializes in work boots. They dabble in fashion boots recently. 20 weeks to 6 months wait for a “custom” shoe. They have a fashion line that starts at 595. Quality was superb, in fact I personally felt that Viberg makes better boots than Wolverine/Red Wing.
    Deal breaker were the 20 weeks to 6 months wait…she even told me that it can be longer without notice. I had a bad experience with putting on a wait list so I won’t care to repeat.

    Baggins shoe … Very large and diverse selection of Converse/Vans , can be classy if you wear the right clothing. Price range from 80 to 199…they have a good website.

    Town shoes/Soft Moc/Bay etc … diverse brands but it is more of the lower to mid end. Clarks/Timberland/Frye

    Philip Nyren … nice store, plus free parking. Selection of shoes are “colorful”. I am more of a traditional type of dresser (okay, non-british style I guess). Customer service is good. Price range from 200 to 500.

    Still Life … nice store … just like Citizen and Outlook. Sells Dr Martens and other brands didn’t peak my interest. Price range up to $300 the most.

    That is all I have visited so far in two days. I really would like to support the local stores but selection is just so limited here that it is hard to create a relationship with any of them. Most of the fine clothing store kept telling me to wait till Spring/summer. So are they telling me is that between Jan. to April, there isn’t any good merchandise to sell?

    I am on the fence as to returning to any of them or doing the alternative routes.

  • Thank you, Jason, for this fantastically informative post! You have really done your homework. I’ll be interested to hear whether you ultimately buy in Victoria or make a trip to Vancouver for your new shoes. Those shoe stores suggesting you wait until spring are *ridiculous*!
    Cheers, Anita

  • Jason

    Here are three more.

    Four Horsemen Shop (fourhorsemen.ca) … relatively new, more like Citizen … selection included custom made four horsemen viberg @ 600, Grenson shoes and boots starting @ 300, Red Wings boots, and Clarks (mostly desert boots). Lazy customer service (Get off the computer and show some interest).

    Hughes …small yet diverse selection of Ted Baker. I think the prices starts at around 300. Good customer service.

    Field’s … I think the shop is going defunct. Barely anything in it. Men’s selection are Johnston Murphy, and Ecco. Prices starts around $200.

    As I said before, I tried. I was pretty open minded with Viberg, Grenson, Red Wing and Wolverine 1000 mile, Allen Edmonds but none of the style that was available interested me. I was willing to pay full price. I am the type that buys now as long as it works on my weird feet, and that I know it will last for at least 6-10 years of repeated use.

    What about special ordering through the store? I also tried that route, but with the ‘wait till spring/summer’ responds I got from most store (except for Kane Straith), I just had to walk away.

    I ended up purchasing in Vancouver.

  • More awesome feedback, Jason.
    I hope some of our local shoe stores read your post here (I know at least one owner who follows my website), because it is really informative. You did your best to find top-quality stylish men’s footwear in Victoria and came away empty handed. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences at the various stores in town.
    All the best, Anita

  • Hey Jason,

    I would love to use you experience as an example looking into the world of mens footwear in Victoria. As someone who loves menswear, and operates within the world of menswear, I would love to shed some light on the menswear situation in Victoria. So Jason, you have gone on the internet and found a specific shoe that you want – the Alden 405 (Indy) boots – Nearest possible store Roden Grey Vancouver – The internet is destroying local fashion. We live in a city of 80 000 people. That is the 67th largest city in Canada. Compare that to Vancouver with 603 502 and they are only the 8th biggest city in Canada (taken from wikipedia). How can we expect to have huge amounts of choice. The fashion world moves in cycles the absolute so ideally the retailer has minimal stock in January and August – now the idea in a store is to sell the products you have on the shelf. Special ordering shoes is tricky for a retailer. If it doesn’t fit when it shows up what does the retailer do…? Good customer service is bite the cost of the shoe, or if lucky just the shipping cost back to the manufacture. Shoes generally get stocked in standard size runs from 8-12 with half sizes in the middle for a minimum of nine shoes. Lets take the Alden 405 (Indy) boots for example – It retails in the USA for $488 on the Alden website, or $480 on J.Crew. so when it gets to Canada with shipping it will roughly be $500 – So for a retailer to stock that boot in a size run would be roughly between $2300 to $2700 – So a retailer has to find 5 guys to buy a shoe at $500 just to break even. And hopefully sell the other 4 pairs to make some profit to pay for rent, utilities, staff, ect. And being the kind of person who likes service to quote… “Lazy customer service (Get off the computer and show some interest).” Im sure you can start to see why a city of 80 000 people of which maybe… maybe 10 000 men (if were lucky!) even take a small glance at what they wear… does not have the wealth of shoe options… The internet has been an amazing aid to the fashion industry, but has also been a dagger to small scale fashion operation. We on one hand are able to view styles from around the world – See the complete collection and even buy it online from sites like Mr.Porter and it will be shipped to your door. But you cant try them on…Now from the internet world of billions to the fashion reality of Victoria… Its a little tricky – especially when your a hard fit. But with so many people shopping online its only getting harder for your local haberdashery to stock more and more. It sounds like you did like the 1000 Mile boot a little, and you know you would love a pair of Vibergs (if you want shoes for 10 years is 6months isn’t that long…) Never the less, you are doing the right thing of actually testing out the local shops and shopping at our local menswear boutiques. Keep that up, the only way to continue to make menswear better in this city is to shop local.

    Thank you Anita for really doing a great breakdown of the mens footwear options in Victoria.

  • George Klima

    I was looking for a man’s dress shoe in size 16 and started working my way through your list and had no luck until I came to Town Shoes, who referred me to The Shoe Company. They are in the Millstream Complex and they do have size 16.

  • Hi George,

    I’m so glad you were able to find what you needed at The Shoe Company. Thanks so much for passing along this information to share with other readers of ScrimporSplurge.ca.

    Cheers,

    Anita

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