Sole Mates

Looking for the perfect fit? Talk’s style editor Melissa K Trias scoured the city in search of the most exquisitely crafted shoe to satisfy any princess.

Every girl deserves that Cinderella moment—and I don’t mean the one involving a dance with her Prince Charming. I’m talking about the moment in which that perfectly sized shoe is slipped onto her tootsie and she is able to walk the rest of her day with a bounce in her step. Yes, we high-heeled creatures deserve at least that much.

However, the truth is that a fairy godmother is far beyond our realm of reality. Luckily we have at our convenience the talents of the former French Concession cobblers who can craft the ultimate shoe for you in a matter of weeks. No, it’s not magic, but it’s as close as magic comes.

Yanye Handmade Shoes

Average price for women’s shoes: RMB 1,500 (RMB 1,600 for boots)
Estimated time of completion: Four weeks
Procedure: 1) Get measured; 2) Choose your preferred type of leather; 3) Return for a trial fit for reshaping; 4) Pick Up

Comments: Yanye is one of the nicer shops to visit, with a vast selection of shoes arranged neatly on the shelves with ample room to browse.

There is a solid selection of styles as well as a book of at least twenty types of leathers, including leopard print, salmon and ostrich, so you’re more than spoilt for choice when you make your selection, whether you’re looking for the most perfect of plimsolls or the most beautiful of boots.

The customer service is also top-notch as we had no trouble at all communicating in English the type of shoes we desired to have made. Also remarkable was the store’s ability to craft fashionable and sturdy heels, even for something as specific as a Charlotte Olympia-styled platform.

Yanye Handmade Shoes. 1363 Fuxing Zhong Lu, near Baoqing Lu. Tel: 131 6270 5506. E-mail: [email protected]


Yan Leather Studio

Average price for women’s shoes: RMB 60 upwards for new styles; RMB 480 upwards for vintage styles; RMB 500 upwards for custom made shoes
Estimated time of completion: Ten days
Procedure: 1) Get measured; 2) Choose your design from the Ready to Wear selection or communicate your design to owner Yan Feng; 3) Pick Up

Comments: A bit of a hole-in-the-wall shop, this store houses an assortment of vintage-style shoes to suit your fancy. The majority of the ready-to-wear offerings are comprised of side-walk friendly flats, with only a few noteworthy heels and boots in the display window that you can request to have made according to your shoe size. And the selection of leathers to choose from is pretty basic too, however you can find standard cowhide leather in several colours, including (surprisingly) gold lame. 

The store owner has over ten years of experience in cobbling and speaks enough conversational English to discuss with you the details of your desired shoe, so you needn’t depend on the help of a Chinese-speaking friend. The only downside is that the store disappoints in delivering fresh women’s styles, but if you’re a man, there’s great opportunity for finding the perfect office shoe here.

Yan Leather Studio. 121 Wulumuqi Nan Lu, near Yongjia Lu. Tel: 139 1625 2000; 139 1616 9296. E-mail: [email protected]

Jack Peng Handmade Shoes

Average price for women’s shoes: RMB 1,600 for ready-to-wear; RMB 5,300 for bespoke
Estimated time of completion: Three to four weeks for ‘measure to order’; Six to eight weeks for bespoke
Procedure: 1) Get measured and/or moulded (depending on the service you order); 2) Choose a design or communicate your design to manager Nancy Chen; 3) Pick Up

Comments: This small shop is definitely impressive, and although it may seem biased towards a high-ranking male politician’s foot, it doesn’t mean that a fashionista can’t benefit from the store’s impeccable craftsmanship. On the wall is a full menu of services that you can choose from to get your dream shoe materialised (and if that shoe is a sexy, black leather, thigh-high boot, then you’ve come to the perfect place).

Speak to the manager, Nancy Chen, about what you want and she will do her best to make it happen. Chen’s English level is good, but we suggest visiting the store with an image of what you want to prevent any misunderstandings. The shop’s forte is in creating shoes with impeccable detail, so if you can dream it, they can most likely do it.

Jack Peng Handmade Shoes, Xuhui Branch. 85 Wulumuqi Nan Lu, near Yongjia Lu. Tel: 5466 1610. Web:

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