NYC.com's Guide To Shoe Shopping In New York City
If you love to shop there’s a fairly good chance that you live for shoes. Let’s face it, whether you’re a man or a woman, a good pair of shoes is one of the only elements of your wardrobe that you can wear over and over again without getting sick of it. And ladies, they’re also the feel-good shopping candy that fit on your body no matter how many cookies you had last week, so you can always count on them to make you happy! Even at their tallest and most painful, you can still rest easy knowing that the pain you’re going through is worth it for how incredible they make your legs look! To be sure, no one can deny the power of a great pair of stilettos, or the feeling you’ll get from finding the perfect pair of comfortable, every-day flats. These days we have more categories than ever for footwear; gone are the days of the hideous 80’s mule and the terror of the 90’s clog, although the grunge favorite Doc Marten’s of the 90’s have been steadily making a comeback recently. If Sex and the City
taught us anything, it’s that New York City is one of the best places in the world for shoe shopping, but you don’t necessarily have to live in Manolos
like Carrie & Co.
to get by in the shops. The men in our fair city are also well cared for, with more and more men’s shoe stores and sneaker boutiques multiplying by the minute. The sneaker has always been an integral part of hitting the streets in the five boroughs, but sneaker fever has never reached its current heights before. High-end sneakers constitute perhaps the newest market in the shoe world, and New York is arguably the best place to shop for kicks in the world.
Our Shoe Shopping In New York Guide focuses on the following clickable topics:
• A Brief Overview of NYC Shoe Shopping
• Women’s & Men’s High-End
• Just For Men
• Flip Flops and Others
• For Cheaper Deals (Hit-or-miss shopping)
• Pricey (but cool) Sneaker Shops
• Best Bets for Flats
• Vintage Shoes
• Kids Shoes
A Brief Overview of NYC Shoe Shopping:
The Upper East Side
is the best place to shop for heels, a la Sex And The City
, because you have Barneys
, Saks Fifth Avenue
, Bergdorf Goodman
and Henri Bendel
all within striking distance of each other. Madison and 5th Avenues
are also excellent places to shop for high-end shoes, from the 50’s all the way to the mid-70’s. SoHo
is your best bet for fun, young shoes, where you can always find architectural and embellished flats and sandals, as well as fun shoes from street vendors. The West Village
is much like the Upper East Side in that all of their brands are high-end and super-luxe; the main difference is the wealth of edgier designers whose wares are only available from their own boutiques. Finally, the East Village
, Lower East Side
, and Chinatown
are fantastic for finding vintage and consignment shoes at lower prices, because the small boutiques in these areas carry little known brands that will give you a very unique look.
Women’s & Men’s High-End:
Next to Mr. Louboutin on the top tier of shoe design is Mr. Jimmy Choo. One of the original companies to stray into the high, high, high fashion shoe market, Jimmy Choo delivers gorgeous, imaginative stilettos (and a few pairs of flats) that any fashionista would drool over.
- The name made famous by its sexy stilettos and fire engine red soles is now worshipped by shoe fans all over the world. At Louboutin's boutiques you'll be able to find the shoe that your favorite celebrity was wearing on the red carpet, as well as some of the comfiest 5-inch heels on the market…but buyer beware, these peep-toes and pumps can cost you a seriously pretty penny.
- The shoe scion made famous by Carrie Bradshaw, who famously never left home without a pair of Manolos, continues to deliver gorgeous shoes every season. Manolo Blahnik himself oversees the design and production of each and every element that goes into his well-crafted shoes.
- Chanel is Chanel is Chanel is Chanel. No matter where you are in the world, you can be sure that this luxury brand staple will always keep its chic aesthetic and will always bring you the best in tweed suits, Chanel logo jewelry, lovely flats and heels, and, of course, the classic Chanel bag with the chain strap. The SoHo store is known for its incredible location, and fantastic, fun window displays.
- Marc Jacobs and the lower priced sister-line Marc by Marc Jacobs have consistently delivered eccentric glamour since their inception. Every season, the unveiling of Marc’s collection is one of the most eagerly awaited events because his styles always set the trend, never follow it, and his incredible use of color and innovative shapes makes him one of the most universally pleasing designers in fashion. His shoes are always an unexpected twist on the classic, from his tasteful yellow leopard print Mary Janes to his “Mouse” ballet flats (with a pair of mouse ears, eyes, nose, and whiskers on the toe).
- Tod's is a perennial classic in the fashion world. Their signature item is their insanely comfortable and luxurious loafers that come in a variety of colors, materials, and styles. Also noteworthy are their adorable flats, work-appropriate heels, and the best men’s shoes on the market. Gorgeous detailing is a signature of this Italian brand, which also offers stunning knits and simple but chic bags.
- Miu Miu is the incredible younger, more outgoing sister line to Prada. Miu Miu features the same flair for bows, lace, and all things shiny as Prada, but a bit more embellishment and a lot more color! The ballet flats are especially delicious and are never plain or boring, which is why, even though they’re pricey, they’re worth the investment.
- While one can always count on Prada to deliver the most sophisticated and classically gorgeous figure-flattering silhouettes, there’s also always something new and fresh. Miuccia Prada’s shoe collections are no different. There are always work-appropriate jewel-tone silk heels and flats with accentuating ribbons or detailing to give them a bit of extra “oomph” (last season’s incredible collection featured a Flower-Heel Mary Jane in purple and green crushed velvet and a stunning flower heel).
Saks Fifth Avenue
- The recently renovated Saks Fifth Avenue shoe department is insanely fabulous. The new 8,500-square-foot (790 square meters) Saks showroom at the flagship Fifth Avenue store has more shoes, more service and more stock room capability. It also features a VIP room for private shopping, spacious seating, refreshments and shoe repair on hand. All of the major brands are there: Christian Louboutin, Sergio Rossi, Proenza Schouler, Dior, Alexander McQueen, Miu Miu, Marc Jacobs, and Zac Posen.
- If you’re looking to shop for shoes in a sophisticated environment where Chanel reins supreme and your bank account knows no limits, Bergdorf Goodman is your best bet in the city. At Bergdorf’s, it is high-end all the way, with no in between: expect only the finest (and most expensive) flats and heels from the likes of Yves Saint Laurent, Nina Ricci, Pedro Garcia, Giuseppe Zanotti, Fendi, Valentino, and many more.
- Barneys is always at the forefront of high-fashion, and their shoe collection is no different. The landmark Upper East Side department store features everything from boots to pumps to sandals to sneakers, from exclusive, hard-to-find brands like Henry Cuir, Chloe, Balenciaga, Martin Margiela, Givenchy, Derek Lam, and Lanvin.
- Barney’s younger, more trendy sister store CO-OP carries shoes to freshen up any look, and, much like its larger flagship, features hard-to-find (and pricey) brands. At CO-OP you’ll find every kind of treat for your feet Golden Goose, Jean-Michel Cazabat, Loeffler Randall, and l’Autre Chose (to name a few).
- The shoes from this hip, young brand are perfect for the style-conscious young women of New York City. Whether you’re looking for a fun flat or a simple-but-chic heel, this well-organized shop makes picking a style as easy as 1-2-3. Their incredible Grecian-inspired sandals are especially stunning and offer a fun, often metallic, twist on a classic.
- Ferragamo’s two-story flagship store boasts a lobby full of sharp heels and glove-soft leather loafers, which helped to make the brand as well-known and trusted as it is today. Ferragamo was made famous in the 1950’s for catering to the Hollywood starlets of the era, one of whom, Audrey Hepburn, was a particularly prominent ambassador for the brand and received many personalized styles from the shoemaker (including the Audrey which still exists today). Though the original designer Salvatore Ferragamo died in the 1960’s, his vision of the perfect marriage between comfort, luxury and sophisticated polish still lives on in this brand today.
- This classic Italian label offers only the finest quality shoes, all branded with a big “G” or the Gucci name, of course. Luxurious fringed, heeled boots share shelves with sleek, sporty sneakers, and snazzy leather loafers for everyone in your family (literally, the men’s, women’s, and children’s divisions often offer similar styles!)
Yves Saint Laurent
- If you’re in the market for ridiculously tall, sky-high stilettos, Yves Saint Laurent should be the first place you go. Its eponymous designer made this classic French fashion house famous in the sixties for its menswear inspired (but still sexy) women’s clothing, bags, and shoes. Today, Yves Saint Laurent still offers the same funky twist on all the classics, from its Hitchcock-esque Muse Bag to the Tribute shoe, a six inch platform peep-toe stiletto that was considered the “it” shoe of 2007 and was spotted on every single starlet in Hollywood.
- This Brooklyn based store sells only boots and flats, so it’s not the best store if you’re in the market for “night appropriate” heels. However, the adorable collection of flats from little-known brands share shelf space with the most covetable selection of boots, from Loeffler Randall riding boots to United Bamboo ankle styles, and it’s all worth a trip across the bridge.
Just For Men:
- Leffot is a new store in Manhattan’s West Village that not only displays its shoes in a swanky, minimalistic interior, but also comes highly recommended by Scott Schuman of the world-famous fashion blog “The Sartorialist.” This discerning gentleman maintains that he rarely ever gets excited about new men’s shoe stores, and it’s true that he’s known to encourage his readers to accept nothing less than the crème de la crème of fashion. Labels carried by the store include Corthay, Church’s, Gaziano & Girling, Artioli, Edward Green, Aubercy, and JM Weston. In short, it's a paradise for shoe-savvy male fashionistas.
- In a world where men are seriously overlooked, what’s a boy to do? The options for footwear are slim, since the looks usually provide one with an air of either trying “too hard” or, on the contrary, not trying at all. This is where John Varvatos comes into play. The ultra cool menswear designer helps men achieve a sexy-yet-masculine look that can make even the most clueless of men look just right. From rustic looking hard-toe boots (in assorted browns, and black, naturally) to dress shoes that are neither too shiny nor too uncomfortable, his shoes will be exactly what you’re looking for, time after time. Oh, and did we mention his partnership with Converse which has produced some of the coolest new styles since the old-school brand’s inception?
- However drastic the changes in the landscape of Lower Manhattan have been throughout the last century, none have phased E. Vogel, makers of custom shoes and boots, which has been open since 1879. This family-run business, that operates a tiny showroom and a factory on three floors of an old townhouse, makes their shoes with comfort and durability in mind, not trends or high-fashion, like most brands these days. Much of their business comes from the fine riding boots that they manufacture for many top equestrians, but even without a horse and saddle you can see the allure of their custom boots and shoes, made in a style of your choosing, in a material of your choosing. The process is a lengthy one (average shoe-making time is 14 weeks) and a pricey one (shoes start at around $800), but it’s well worth the price to have your very own pair of shoes that will last as long as the store itself!
- Odin is by far the coolest menswear store in all of New York City. When you think of the goods offered by this fine establishment the three S’s will undoubtedly always come to mind: Slick, sexy, and stylish. Your feet will never looked as well-dressed as when you walk out of Odin, thanks to exclusive, hard-to-find brands like Repetto, Common Projects and Band of Outsiders. Most shoes are in a sneaker or dress style, but the occasional boat shoe and utility boot is also thrown in there for good measure.
- Head designer Heidi Slimaine has done wonders for the image of Dior Homme, which offers slick, shiny shoes for dressing up, and slick, shiny kicks for dressing down. And, if you’re a really cool girl and you think you can pull it off, check out their sneaker selection…it’s far better than any of the women’s dunks we’ve ever seen.
Nom de Guerre
- This underground shop specializes in fancy sneakers (not kicks) from Converse and Comme des Garcons.
Flip Flops and Others:
- Urban Outfitters is famous for offering chic, current, on-trend styles at lower prices than most of the major designer brands.
- Journeys offers the ever-present, ever-popular Reef sandals and flip-flops, as well as Converse and a ton of skate shoes from companies like Dickies and Etnies. And the best part? Everything is less expensive than at specialty sneaker and skate shops.
Tom’s Shoes- Tom’s donates a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you buy, are cheap and comfortable and can be purchased at Kaight
and a number of Whole Foods Markets
throughout the city.
- If you’re in the market for a flip-flop that likely won’t last more than a summer, or a particularly trendy kind of sandal for a third of department store prices, head to Old Navy.
For Cheaper Deals (Hit-or-miss shopping):
- David Z is a one-stop shop for relatively inexpensive shoes. They carry a huge variety of brands including Adidas, Asics, Birkenstock, Born, Dansko, Diesel, Red Wing, Timberland, and UGG.
- This famous NYC store offers designer goods with steep discounts. Brands can range from Balenciaga to Marc Jacobs to Tod’s to Dior and everything in between.
– Loehmann’s is another NYC institution that offers designer shoes at discounted prices. They have a particularly fantastic selection of boots and heels from brands like BCBG, Oscar de la Renta, and Marc by Marc Jacobs.
DSW Shoe Warehouse
- DSW is arguably the best place in the city to go for discounted designer shoes. From Alexander McQueen to Stella McCartney, Pucci to Missoni, and everything in between, you can find the high-end and low-end side by side in this huge, reasonably priced shoe store.
is also great for cheap shoes that you only want to wear a few times (and then throw away). So if you’re in need of a quick, cheap fix, you can find everything from flip flops to cheap wellies, to flat canvas shoes. There’s also a pretty decent selection of sneaker shops on Canal St. between Mulberry St. and the Bowery that offer everything from Nike to Adidas to Clarks at reasonable prices far lower than the sneaker specialty shops you’ll also discover in this guide. The only catch is, the selection is smaller and often the styles come in limited sizes.
Pricey (but cool) Sneaker Shops:
- The consignment store for sneaker connoisseurs. All merchandise is nearly new, always exclusive, and comes from brands like Nike, Puma, and Vans.
A Bathing Ape
- The New York outpost of this cartoon oriented Japanese brand sells sneakers in fun, bright colors and tees to match with cartoons (most commonly monkeys) emblazoned on them. These shoes are for the fashionably bold, as in, expect unusual patent leather color combos.
Alfie Rivington Club
- A staple exclusive shoe store in lower east side, offering a varying taste of limited alife products, alife coloborations, and select sneakers from top brands such as Nike, Adidas, and Reebok. While the footwear can be overwhelmingly vibrant and elaborate, the intimate setting helps to soothe a buyer’s nerves. The store plays a large roll in the upheaval of streetwear and downtown style, supplying shoe-fiends with best of the best. And the word club in the title is not to be ignored, you have to buzz to gain entry.
Dave’s Quality Meat
- Dave’s Quality Meats pays homage to its history as a former meat shop by displaying its sneaker goods like a butcher would display different cuts of meat. Expect high-top eighties basketball and retro skateboard sneakers. Carrying on with the butcher shop theme, you can take your kicks home in brown paper bags more suited to a thick cut of meat than a pair of Nikes.
- If you’re big into sneaker culture, the small selection at Memes might not be very impressive to you. However, for the rest of us, the Reeboks, Nikes, Alexander McQueen Pumas, and silver python Y-3s are just enough to satisfy your sneaker thirst without going overboard.
- This small Lower East Side shop partners with sneaker giants like Nike to create coveted exclusives for the store.
Best Bets for Flats:
- Forever 21 never fails to deliver an endless stream of throw-away flats that you can knock around. They’re usually pretty comfortable and always on-trend.
- Ballet flats are stacked from floor to ceiling in this little oasis for comfortable shoes. Everything from leopard print to red patent leather and adorable little floral patterns adorn these flats.
Pas de Deux
(for Repettos)- If you love the shoes at Odin for your man, head to Pas de Deux for French brands like Repettos and Vanessa Bruno for yourself.
- The Calypso outlet on Broome St. always has a steady supply of Jack Rogers sandals and Repettos at heavily discounted prices.
Belle by Sigerson Morrison
- The flats at this Nolita shop are often metallic or embellished, and you’ll always find something charming to decorate your feet. The heels are also adorable, but the flats are the best part of the little sister store to Sigerson Morrison.
- This classic sneaker shop offers more than just the basic running shoe thanks to a long standing partnership with Stella McCartney. Her designs for the company run the gamut from sleek sneakers for exercise, to yoga shoes (and the best workout clothes to match).
- At the Nike store in Manhattan you can find everything that you’d expect to find at a store made famous by its sports shoes and clothing. Sneakers, cleats, ice skates, yoga clothing, and high-end, exclusive “dunks” are just a few of the wares offered by this megabrand for athletes. The first four of the building’s five floors are dedicated to shirts, sneakers, sweats, and sportswear plastered with the world-renowned Nike swoosh. Specialty items include everything from sneakers endorsed by NBA stars like LeBron James to team-specific jerseys for European soccer to running shoes with accompanying iPods that track your mileage.
- What started out as a potentially temporary partnership between Adidas and Yohji Yamamoto, became a lasting partnership that has its own show during New York Fashion Week every year, Always a fan of function and comfort, Yamamoto takes his signature style of sculptural shapes and combines it with the materials native to sportswear like nylon and lycra. The shoes are really great versions of classic athletic shoes like running sneakers and yoga shoes.
- This young sportswear brand makes sneakers in malleable materials like suede and nylon that are both comfortable and functional. The shoes are always stylish enough to take you from the gym to the streets without having to do a full wardrobe change, and are often in bright, fun colors and emblazoned with the Puma lion.
All of the following stores carry a large variety of vintage and consignment shoes from either little-known or now-defunct brands so that you can add some individuality to your look. No matter which one of these shops you decide to visit, you’ll be able to rest easy knowing that you’ll have something that no one else will be able to find anywhere else!
Fox & Fawn
So many places cater to the little ones, and they look especially cute in some of those amazing designer sneakers and dress shoes. Here's a selection of some of the coolest places to deck out your little one in high style: