There are hundreds of shoes stores in New York City. Maybe thousands. Most of them, unfortunately, are not great.
My goal with this guide to NYC’s best men’s shoe stores is helping you find exactly what you need in the way of quality footwear—dress oxfords, tassel loafers, American-made heritage boots, whatever—at a broad range of price points, throughout New York. It’s broken into: 1) The Brand Shops, selling one specific shoemaker, 2) The Multi-Brand Shops, which offer a wider range, and 3) The Wildcards, which are largely menswear shops, some of which only carry a single shoe brand. But that brand, and the fact that the shop carries it, is notable.
Here’s how the price-range dollar signs work: each $ is equivalent to about $200. So, $$=$400, $$$$=800, etc. I stopped the scale at 5, so $$$$$=$1000, but also anything over that price. And some of these stores will allow you to go plenty over.
All of the below are shops I’ve actually visited and felt a connection with. They sell fantastic shoes, understand how to properly size you, and would be happy to talk shoes with you—theirs, of course, but also shoes in general—for hours. I’ve done exactly that at almost all of them, and haven’t been forcibly removed once. Yet.
But there are others. Which is why I’ll continue to update this story as I visit shops I’ve been dying to get to, and new places open, and I get tipped off to stores I just don’t know about—if you have one you love, definitely shoot an email to email@example.com. And definitely keep checking this story, as the shoe landscape across the city evolves.
For now: happy hunting.
The Brand Shops
Alden Madison: Shell Cordovan Heaven
340 Madison Ave, between 43rd and 44th
Alden Madison “probably sells more shell cordovan than anyone else in the world,” according to its co-owner of 15 years, Curt. And they definitely sell more Aldens—the Manhattan institution a block away from Grand Central Terminal is the number one account for the heritage Massachusetts shoe brand that inspires as much lust and excitement as any other shoemaker.
What makes Alden an icon? A combination of timeless looks, refusal to budge from a commitment to impeccable quality, and a price point that’s not exactly cheap but still attainable. And of course that shell cordovan: the world’s most durable and perfect shoe leather, made from the rear quarters of a horse instead of the calf leather you see on most shoes. Cordovan absolutely refuses to crease, is tremendously difficult to scuff permanently, and ages into a beautiful, unique patina on every pair. Alden is famed for its burgundy Color 8 cordovan, and sources more of it from the famed Horween Leather Co. than any other shoemaker.
Curt, Ainello, and Anthony are experts at expert at sizing anyone into the range of Alden lasts, and have the stock to make good on those fits. They stock sizes 6 through 13 in medium and wide in all the styles and leathers you’re probably interested in. I’ve personally bought two pairs from these fellas (these Indy boots, and my color 8 cordovan longwing bluchers—getting married is just one fantastic excuse to pick a pair of those up), and don’t plan on stopping there. Especially because they even mark down discontinued styles, something you almost never see on Aldens.
Allen Edmonds: A Classic American Shoe At a Solid Price
225 Liberty Street, in Brookfield Place
20 W 43rd St, between 5th and 6th
24 E 44th Street, between 5th and Madison
If you’ve never owned a pair of Allen Edmonds, it’s entirely possible that don’t own any shoes at all. Based in Wisconsin since 1922, AE has all the dress shoe greatest-hits styles—the Strand cap-toe oxford probably being the most famous; I’ve had mine for almost a decade—at consistently reasonable-ish prices. Also notable: shell cordovan you can get for under $700, and a line of boots highlighted by the damn handsome Higgins Mill. They’ve got both downtown and Midtown canvassed, including two shops literally a block apart near Grand Central, because, why the hell not?
Carmina: Mallorcan Style With Incredible Bang for the Buck
45 E 45th St, between Madison and Grand Central
Although the brand was launched in 1997, the family behind Carmina has been making fantastic shoes on the monumentally picturesque Spanish island of Mallorca since 1866. Despite their looks—classically handsome with little touches of distinctive European flair—and impressive quality at a great price, Carmina initally only let a trickle of their wares into the US (thank you: The Armoury, featured below).
That all ended when Carmina opened its beautiful shop in October 2018, smack in the middle of the Alden/Allen Edmonds/Crockett & Jones Midtown Shoe Geek Triangle. Pretty much their entire line is here, from every kind of loafer imaginable, to elegant balmoral boots, to wholecuts whose comfort will make you deeply ponder why you own all those shoes made of more than one piece of leather. Best of all? Much of it is available in shell cordovan—their volume of offerings in the ultimate shoe leather is probably second only to Alden itself—at a price that can only be considered reasonable.
Crockett and Jones: Timeless, Infallible British Shoes
11 E 55th St, between 5th and Madison
156 Spring St, between W. Broadway and Wooster
Northampton is the womb of fine British shoemakers, and it’s where Crockett & Jones has operated out of since 1879, now under the guidance of 4th-generation scion Jonathan Jones. Their museum-quality Midtown shop offers phenomenal customer service and education under the guidance of manager Kevin Hill, who’s been at the helm since the shop opened—and they just opened a more modern-designed store in Soho. Crockett’s Hand-Grade collection is a step up in price from something like Alden, but plenty worth the scratch, especially if you’re looking for something a bit more…well, British.
The Crockett & Jones range swings from chiseled oxfords, to wingtip double monks, to some truly exceptional country boots, to one of my personal favorites: the plain toe derby in a wonderfully pebbled Scotch grain leather. Meanwhile, their black or navy velvet house slippers are customizable with embroidery ranging from skulls and crossbones to the most distinguished T-Rex that Sam Neill could possibly imagine. And basically anything you’re capable of dreaming up, Crockett can create through their special order program after a fitting and consultation at the shop. Even if you dream in crocodile.
John Lobb: Revered Quality—Especially if You Go Bespoke
800 Madison Ave, between 67th and 68th
For over a century, the only way to treat your feet to a pair of John Lobb shoes was through their bespoke service: working with a master bootmaker for up to a year to create a last that followed the exact contours of your feet, from which a masterpiece was made to your exact specifications. In 1982, the brand finally became accessible to more men with the introduction of a ready-to-wear line that carried over the brand’s exacting quality standards. In 2000, Lobb’s first Madison Avenue shop opened, allowing New Yorkers and countless shoe fanatics slipping away from family vacations to purchase ready-to-wear classics like the Lopez loafer and its double monk-strap William and William II. In 2012, the shop moved to this location five blocks further north.
Of course the bespoke tradition continues, carried on in the States by master bootmaker Paul Wilson, who creates his art every day above the New York shop when he’s not flying to spend time with Lobb clients around the country. Wilson has designed and hand-made hundreds of John Lobb shoes throughout his storied career, and few people are more knowledgable about the process—or are more enjoyable to spend hours with, just talking shoes. Are any John Lobbs, even the ready-to-wear collection, um, “affordable”? No! But when you end up with style icons that can last decades if you take care of them properly, they absolutely shouldn’t be.
J.M. Weston: Shoe-Gri-La
600 Madison Ave, between 57th and 58th
If you revere shoes, you simply must go to J.M. Weston. The moment you walk in, the New York full of chaos, street meat, and people who don’t even realize they’re wearing terrible shoes melts away, as Bob and Tony take you through the brand’s storied history crafting astounding footwear since 1891—and repeatedly prove that they care more about shoes than most humans are capable of caring about anything.
J.M. Weston is probably most famous for their Mocassin 180 loafer, a perfectly balanced, split-toe, supreme achievement of design. It’s available in leathers ranging from the necessary black, brown, and burgundy, to lizard, alligator, and more, and comes in literally every single width you could ever need. But perhaps their greatest achievement, and one of the most unique and astonishing ready-to-wear shoes anywhere in the world, is the truly hand-made Hunt derby. Originally designed to be unshakable and waterproof while duck hunting, the impenetrable Norwegian welt is a thing of distinctive beauty, and its heft will assure you that this shoe will last, essentially, forever. It’s a tank in Bugatti clothing. I beg you: go see it for yourself.
Meermin: One of the Best Shoe-Bangs for the Buck Out There
130 Greene St, between Houston and Prince, 2 Floor
An upstart shoemaker from the Spanish island of Mallorca, Meermin has one major differentiator: price. The bulk of their deep line costs under $200, and even their upscale line built with higher-quality leathers comes in below $350. How do they do it? A direct-to-consumer model that sells only through their website, a shop in Madrid, and this roomy second floor loft in Soho around the corner from shops selling pairs of boxers for the same price.
So, what do you get for that crazy, wonderful price? Never having owned a pair I can’t speak to their quality and longevity the way I’d like to (something that will almost definitely change before too long). But everyone I know who owns a pair speaks highly of their out-of-the-shoebox comfort and build quality—they use durable leather soles from highly respected JR Redenbach, for instance, and Goodyear welt all their shoes, which is rare at this price point.
They certainly deliver on the “these are pretty darn handsome” front via a range of classic styles that stay right within the sweet spot of delivering looks without trying too hard: cap toe brogue oxfords, loafers of all ilk, chukkas and Chelseas, longwings, Norwegian split toes, the whole deal.
Red Wing Heritage: Americana, In Boot Form
116 Franklin St, between W. Broadway and Church
Red Wing has hundreds of stores across the country, including one in Alaska…and two in Hawaii! But there’s only one that carries the entire Red Wing Heritage line—this one, right here, in Tribeca. Sure, you can get your Iron Rangers and 875 Moc-Toes in every leather offered in Red Wing’s main collection. But let’s say you want a Classic or Work Oxford? Or sometimes, rare boots like Japanese-market makeups? Oh they’ve got them too.
It’s also as much a museum as it is a storefront, with ancient, wonderful boots that have been to hell and worse all over the shop, preserved to display what your boots can become with some very, very tough love. And if you care enough about footwear to read this publication, but don’t own a single pair of what’s maybe the best long-term value for the price in the entire world of boots, all I’ll say is just…hurry on up, please.
- Alden Indy 403C
- Thorogood Moc-Toe
- Tricker’s x Division Road Bourton
- Red Wing Iron Ranger
- Tricker’s Stow
R.M. Williams: The Ultimate Chelsea Boot
152 Spring St, between W. Broadway and Wooster
Chelsea boots are an incredibly versatile wardrobe staple, and heritage Aussie brand R.M. Williams may just make the best version for the price of anyone out there. Their spacious, well-adorned shop—which includes a door from the very shed in which the late Reginald Murray Williams himself started making his first boots—carries a few other handsome boots and sneakers, too. But you come here for the dozens upon dozens of distinctively red-soled Craftsman Chelseas. Starting at $500, they’re available in leathers ranging from various colors of calf, to incredibly supple kangaroo, to the exotics you’d expect from a company founded by a man who spent serious portions of his life traversing the Australian outback.
The legend of Williams himself—bushman, gold miner, author, and plenty more—is too deep and rich to recount here, but I strongly recommend giving this short but thick bio about his very long life a read. Once you do, I imagine you’ll see Williams’ Chelsea boots very differently—and understand why nearly every type of man in Australia, from farmers to heads of state, wears them every single day.
RRL: The Line is Small, But Damn is it Nice
381 W. Broadway between Spring and Broome
85 N. 3rd St, between Berry and Wythe (Brooklyn)
While not exclusively a shoemaker by any stretch (I personally have serious tunnel vision that leads me to see it as a shawl-collar cardigan brand), Ralph Lauren’s upticked heritage label does peddle a small handful of highly worth shoes and boots. Most notable: these Quoddy-ish leather moccasins, and the Brunel workboot (also seen above), whose exquisite details make it pretty obvious that your apparent Red Wing moc-toes are actually not Red Wings at all.
Taft: Wildly Unique Shoes and Boots at a Very Strong Price
135 Prince St, between Wooster and West Broadway
Taft founder Kory Stevens started a humble no-show sock company, and ended up with a budding footwear Goliath. Four years into its journey, Taft has established itself as a go-to brand for anyone who wants more—not a little more, a LOT more—on the style side of things when it comes to boots and shoes. And while Taft may be more for the purely fashionable than those who nerd out on construction and leathers, Kory ensures that everything is built to impressively high standards while keeping prices mostly in the $250-$350 range. Their first store, smack in the middle of Soho, is a fantastic stake in the ground.
Oh and for a ton more on Taft, check out my Stitchdown Conversation with Kory.
Thursday Boots: Classic Looks for Under $250
Ongoing pop-up: 65 Mercer St, between Prince and Spring
Showroom (also does sales, and you can walk right in): 48 W. 21st St, 6th Floor
Firmly planting itself right in the middle of the (mostly) $250-and-under scene, Thursday’s a newer-ish brand crafting handsomely straightforward, classically styled footwear at that aforementioned seriously reasonable price. While they also make a wingtip, loafer, and even a double monk (who doesn’t these days?), most of their work has been carving out a legitimate space in the crowded boot market with Chelseas, a moc-toe wedge sole workboot, and most prominently, a broad spectrum of cap- and round-toes. While you can swing by their Flatiron showroom to get sized and make a purchase (just know their stock isn’t terribly deep—it’s a showroom), their current true retail shop is a cozy two-floor Soho pop-up that stayed popped. But they’re currently locking down a new space—I’ll be sure to update once that happens.
The Multi-Brand Shops
The Armoury: Endlessly Tasteful Menswear, With the Shoes To Match
168 Duane St, near Hudson
Possibly New York’s most impressive menswear store overall, this Tribeca spawn of the Hong Kong original features a loft that’s basically a treehouse for shoe-mad grownups, with Sour Patch Kids and comics and replaced by loafers and cap-toes. Owner Mark Cho has a rich history of identifying shoemakers that are under-appreciated or even unknown in the States: he was the first to convince Carmina they needed to sell in the US a half-decade ago, and is also the only stateside shop selling the otherworldly ready-to-wear line from Japanese bespoke maestro Yohei Fukuda. Other stuff you really just can’t get elsewhere: Baudoin & Lange loafers, Bowhill & Elliot velvet slippers, and the Armoury namesake line of oxfords and derbies, which allow you to experience the majesty of Fukuda (who co-designed the line along with Cho) for under $500. And of course, there are Aldens.
Drake’s: The Best Way to Make Casual Classy
39 1/2 Crosby St, between Spring and Broome
Brit-brand Drake’s does its trademark relaxed elegance as well as anyone, via ties, knitwear, blazers, and more. The same could definitely be said about the Soho shop’s tightly curated footwear offerings, which include a tight range of Aldens (duh), the most iconically necessary models from French comfort virtuosos Paraboot, and Drake’s own Italian-made desert boots (a distinct step-up in materials and construction from the Clark’s classic) and deliciously comfortable moc-toe suede chukkas.
Grahame Fowler Studio: A Shoe Museum That’s Happy to Sell You Tricker’s
When you step into Grahame Fowler’s Long Island City workshop, you’re basically entering the man’s life, and brain. You see his work (sketches of new clothing; overheard, very extended conversations about buttons), his loves (vintage Italian scooters; timeless, impeccably built workwear), and most importantly for this particular publication, his shoes.
After closing his West Village shop and a number of stores throughout Japan, Fowler is “looking for another angle” on a true storefront, but in the meantime is happy to sell you something from a wondrous backstock of shoes and boots out of his studio (and through his website). You’ll see White’s and Sanders and a few Loakes, but things really get going when you start cracking open boxes of Tricker’s. Fowler was one of the billion-year-old British brand’s most frequent and creative collaborators for years, which means you can 1) walk out with cordovan plain-toe derbies or boots at an honestly pretty crazy price, and 2) marvel at Fowler’s personal collection of Tricker’s boots, some of which are up to three decades old, and will prompt you to offer Grahame your car/house/similar to take them off his hands (he will say no).
(IMPORTANT NOTE: because this is Grahame’s, you know, office, you can’t just show up unannounced. But email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a ring at 718.482.7411 and he’ll be more than happy to spend some time with you and the shoes.)
Leffot: The Finest High-End Multi-Brand Store In NYC
10 Christopher St, between Greenwich and Gay
When Aldens are essentially the entry-level brand, you know you’re in a different kind of shoe store. Over the years, stupendously knowledgeable owner Steven Taffel has curated and re-curated and re-re-curated an airtight lineup of what could certainly be said to be (I’m saying it!) the perfect spectrum of options from of some of the finest and most distinctive shoemakers in operation today.
At the moment, that means eight core makers—Corthay, Edward Green, St. Crispin’s, Enzo Bonafè, Alden, Drake’s, Wolverine, and Quoddy—reflecting every potential need from casual affordable chukkas to impossibly beautiful (and slightly pricier) French, Italian, and Austrian single-monks and oxfords. On top of that, Leffot’s constantly refreshed pre-owned program is absolutely worth a look (at least once weekly, honestly). Taffel only buys the best-condition used shoes from customers—no sit-and-hope commission structure here: if he likes your shoes, he’ll pay you on the spot—and sells them at prices far more fair than what you’ll tend to see from eBay and other re-sellers.
Moulded Shoe: Home of the Alden Modified Last
10 E 39th St, between 5th and Madison
There is no shoe store in the world like Moulded Shoe. Maybe they all used to be like this, at some more romantic point in our country’s footwear history. Back when the entire point of shoes was quality, and longevity, and an ideal fit that can legitimately make your life better with every step. Back when entire families bought every pair of shoes they owned from the same place (a place not called “the internet”). A place lovingly run by the same people who knew exactly what those customers wanted, and more importantly, what they needed.
We’re not in that time, not by a longshot. Which is just one reason why we should all be ever more thankful that Moulded Shoe persists. Another one—and all the cause you need to stop in to see longtime owner Ron—is that Moulded is the U.S. epicenter of the Alden Modified Last. Perhaps the New England stalwart’s most unique creation, the Modified Last is an orthopedic marvel with an incredibly narrow heel and waist tapering out to a wide forefoot with a dramatic swing, and one of the highest arches you’ve ever encountered. If your foot agrees with the last (especially your arch), it’ll probably be the most comfortable, supportive, healthy shoe you’ll ever wear. If it doesn’t agree, you will howl in pain, long before you ever come close to buying them—you’ll know they’re not for you immediately. So that’s good, at least.
Doing what little we can do keep incredible places like Moulded Shoe thriving and unchanged is one of the goals of Stitchdown. If you’re in the city, definitely stop in.
Nepenthes: Street Style Meets Classic British Country Shoes
307 W 38th St, between 8th and 9th Ave
Nobly keeping the ever-changing Garment District full of garments in its own little way, Nepenthes is owned by Japanese workwear dons Engineered Garments, whose stamp you’ll see on a lot of Nepenthes’ shoes’ footbeds—especially their endless collaborations with Tricker’s. The British maker consistently pulls off the rare trick of melding timeless style with some of the more bomb-proof shoes you’ll ever wear. Nepenthes pushes the style portion of that special sauce to more aggressive, often street-ier places than Tricker’s would themselves, while always keeping things within the right bounds. Not necessarily quite as reserved are collaborations with brands like Timberland and Dr. Marten’s. And unsurprisingly they’ve also got a tight selection of Aldens, because this is an important shoe store that sells important shoes, dammit.
Brooklyn Tailors: Get Your Joseph Cheaneys Here
327 Grand St, between Havemeyer and Marcy (Brooklyn)
Brooklyn Tailors’ main business is, believe it or not, tailoring (custom and ready-to-wear, and they’re damn good at it too—I own a wonderful tie from them). But they also hold the distinction of being one of the few stores in the US to carry U.K. stalwart Joseph Cheaney’s line of oxfords, split-toe derbies, Chelsea boots, and chukkas. If you’re looking for an incredibly well-made shoe around $500 that you can be reasonably certain everyone else at the party won’t be wearing—even if it’s a party full of people in the shoe industry—this is your place.
Hatchet Supply Co.: Aldens and Red Wings (and Ice Axes) in Brooklyn
77 Atlantic St, between Hicks and Henry (Brooklyn)
The name is no lie: this speciality shop at the end of Atlantic/the earth will absolutely supply you with hatchets. Nice ones, too! A nice portion of their footwear is similarly outdoors-technical, including not-often seen trekking boots from heritage Bavarian maker Hanwag. But they also stock a nicely robust line of Red Wings, a few pairs of Wolverine 1000 Miles, and recently gave their customers the opportunity to step up into plain toe and Indy boots from Alden—the only store I currently know of in Brooklyn to do so.
J. Crew The Ludlow Shop at 50 Hudson: Alden Galore
50 Hudson St, between Thomas and Duane
This store exists to sell suits, but expect buying one to take a while, so you aren’t forced to rush admiring a mighty fine selection of Alden shoes and boots—including cordovan tankers, jumpers, and longwings. They also sell the (significantly cheaper) often quite handsome J. Crew-brand shoes.
Modern Anthology: The Only Place to Score Helm Boots in NY
123 Smith St, between Pacific and Dean (Brooklyn)
Dedicated to an excellent selection of menswear that could be loosely categorized as “street-/workwear for people who actually go to work,” Modern Anthology is also the only place in New York City you’ll be able to find and try on HELM boots. Austin’s own bootmaker crafts Goodyear Welted and Blake Rapid-stitched boots that are at once classic and still quite different than all the Red Wing knockoffs you’ll see out there, and age beautifully.
Self Edge: The Only Place You’ll Find Boots From Japan’s The Flat Head
157 Orchard St, between Stanton and Ludlow
If you often feel the desire to drown yourself in denim, you probably already know about Self Edge, one of the harbingers of the current—and warranted—mania around selvedge (a term that stems from the fabric’s characteristic “self-edge”). But the LES shop also has a history of stocking deeply interesting boots you’d have a helluva time finding elsewhere.
While they’ve been one of a very small handful of shops to carry the exceedingly rare John Lofgren boots, and they may still have a few pairs of aggressively innovative/beautiful Yuketens by the time you read this, their main focus at the moment is on engineer boots from The Flat Head. The Japanese denim geniuses have created what Self Edge considers to be the ultimate boot in this style, made of natural Chromexcel leather that will wear beautifully over time, and built to the same impeccable standards as the brand’s denim.
Love a New York shoe shop that isn’t on this list? Shoot us an email at email@example.com, or DM us on Instagram at @stitchdown