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30 Australian shoe brands to invest in

IMAGE VIA @post_sole_studio/instagram

WORDS BY MAEVE KERR-CROWLEY

Footwear that’s made to last.

We’re fortunate in Australia and New Zealand to have amazing local labels around every corner, covering just about every style and aesthetic under the sun. So, it’s easy to find quality pieces that are designed or made right here at home.

The push to shop local that’s gained traction over the last few years is doing wonders for the Australian and New Zealand fashion industries, but one sector we may have neglected is our footwear collections.


Discover more up-and-coming local designers in our Fashion section. 


If they’re made well-using quality materials, one pair of shoes can last you years and years of wear. And, let’s be honest, it’s up there with underwear in terms of ‘things you probably shouldn’t leave the house without’.

Fortunately, there are almost as many local labels making shoes as there are making clothes, it just takes a little digging to find them all. To set you on the right track, here are some of our favourite footwear labels based in Australia (and we’ve also included a few New Zealand labels who get an honourable mention).

Post Sole Studio

 

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Based in: Australia (Melbourne)

Born out of a “love of shoemaking and a desire to keep the local industry alive”, Melbourne-based label Post Sole Studio makes boots, loafers, sandals and more with impressive attention to detail and an enduring ethos of sustainability. New and old designs are made in small batches to start with, followed by a made-to-order approach that keeps waste and over-production at a minimum. A large percentage of the leather and materials used are sourced as deadstock from other factories, while the rest are purchased from suppliers around Australia.

postsole.com

Nelson Made

 

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Based in: Australia (Melbourne)

While a few of its more complex styles are made in a family-run factory in China, Nelson Made produces all of its signature flat sandals out of its studio in Melbourne. The studio is run by clean solar power, and footwear is made using a combination of recycled leather, deadstock fabrics, leather certified by the Leather Working Group and organic linen. Styles include strappy sandals, delicate slides, heeled mules and the odd leather boot.

nelsonmade.com.au

Mara & Mine

 

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Based in: Australia (Sydney)

Founded by two Australian women while they were living in LA, Mara & Mine is best known for its range of sexy yet comfortable suede slippers – particularly the Jem Skull Slipper, which has been worn by the likes of Cara Delevigne, Kendall Jenner and Margot Robbie. The label now has a flagship store back in Sydney where the founders grew up, stocking the iconic slippers and mules as well as a wide range of sandals.

maraandmine.com

Essen

 

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Based in: Australia (Melbourne)

Designed in Melbourne and crafted using artisan techniques by the best factories Italy, Portugal and Spain have to offer, Essen’s footwear range is all about wardrobe essentials that will last a lifetime. The collection of flats, heels, loafers and boots are all handmade from high quality, consciously sourced leathers and are often sold using a pre-order system to ensure no resources go to waste.

essenthelabel.com

A.Emery

 

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Based in: Australia (Melbourne)

A.Emery is out to create the most timeless sandals on the market, using minimalist designs and a classic palette to ensure whatever pair you buy will see you through seasons and years to come. Its collection of flat leather sandals ranges from ultra-strappy to tie-up styles, with a focus on quality, comfort and effortless styling.

aemery.com

Maria Farro

 

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Based in: Australia (Sydney)

Sydney-based label Maria Farro is a celebration of and ode to Crete, Greece, combining Bondi Beach style with artisan techniques developed by one of the oldest civilisations in the world. The 100 per cent leather range of sandals and slides are handmade in Crete, making each pair subtly unique and allowing them to age gracefully with years of wear.

mariafarro.com

Radical Yes

 

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Based in: Australia (Melbourne)

Champions of the flat shoe revolution, Radical Yes exclusively creates – you guessed it – flat shoes. Covering sandals, boots, sneakers, platforms and easy slip-ons, the entire range is designed around the idea of liberating your feet and embracing everyday comfort. Even though every pair is flat and pragmatic, the label puts a lot of thought and care into making sure they look great too.

radicalyes.com.au

St. Agni

 

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Based in: Australia (Byron Bay)

Run by a husband and wife duo on the coast, St. Agni is best known for its handmade footwear (but, if you’re looking for a wardrobe revamp, the label also makes clothes). Focusing on a ‘less is more’ philosophy and transparent production practices, everything is made in small runs from consciously sourced materials. A pair of St. Agni woven slides or minimalist sandals is intended to last for years to come, never letting you down or going out of style.

st-agni.com

Collective Canvas

Based in: New Zealand (Auckland)

New Zealand-based label Collective Canvas has made classic, no-fuss canvas sneakers its bread and butter, with a focus on sustainable materials, ethical production and maximum brand transparency. A small number of styles are available in a handful of colours that are easy to integrate into your wardrobe. There’s also a section on each product page that details the cost of production and brand markups, which gives an interesting insight into the label’s retail model.

collectivecanvas.com

Beau Coops

 

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Based in: New Zealand

Beau Coops’ footwear aesthetic has been described by designer Carrie Cooper as ‘boyfriend chic’ – incorporating traditionally masculine elements into each style to give them a distinctive edge that appeals to a lot of women. Beau Coop shoes have even been spotted on the feet of celebrities like Solange and Florence Welch.

beaucoops.com

Kathryn Wilson

 

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Based in: New Zealand (Auckland)

Named after its founder and designer, Kathryn Wilson is one of the forefront footwear labels in New Zealand. After almost two decades in the industry, the brand’s extensive range of ethically produced shoes cover everything from understated heels and loafers to uber-modern sneakers and boldly coloured statement pumps.

kathrynwilson.com

By Far

 

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Based in: Australia

Designed in Australia and handmade in Bulgaria, By Far footwear is made for the ‘city cool girl’ who pulls off the perfect blend of effortless and joyful fashion. The brand uses responsibly sourced leathers and other materials in the perfect candy colours to update timeless styles with freshly creative details.

byfar.com

Bared Footwear

 

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Based in: Australia

How your shoes look is important, but how they feel can be make-or-break. Bared Footwear combines fashion with podiatry to make shoes that actively help your feet but don’t look like you got them at the doctor’s office. Whether it’s a boot, sneaker, heel or slipper, every pair of shoes from Bared features a super comfortable footbed designed to keep your feet in great shape.

bared.com.au

Allbirds

 

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Based in: New Zealand

For when you’re prepping to stay on your feet all day or ready to go out for a run, New Zealand-based Allbirds creates sustainable, ultra-comfortable runners that don’t look like something your dad would pick out. Made from natural, responsibly sourced materials like merino wool, Allbird’s range is all about minimal design and maximum effectiveness.

allbirds.com

In Haus

 

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Based in: Australia

The collaborative brainchild of Melbourne-based artist Studio Tops and boutique shoemaker, Claire Best Handmade, In Haus Projects boasts a bespoke range of functionally stylish, handmade leather slippers. The leatherware collaboration features three different styles of unique hand-dyed slides. Plus, you can strut with pride knowing this footwear collab is sustainability-conscious through its made-to-order option.

studiotops.com.au

Alias Mae

 

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Based in: Australia

Established in 2011, Melbourne-based label Alias Mae has become a cult favourite of the Australian fashion set. Known for his quality leather, trend-forward designs and attention to detail, founder Tom Kirkhope continues to cement the brand’s success with each collection. With $1 from every purchase donated to life-changing projects, it’s footwear you can feel good about, too.

aliasmae.com.au

Studio Amelia

Based in: Australia

Studio Amelia designer Emily Inglis creates shoes that are guaranteed compliment-getters. Her sleek range of strappy sandals, heels and – of course – Nappa leather thigh-high boots are designed in Sydney and handcrafted in Alicante, Spain. Following slow design principles, Studio Amelia releases only two core collections a year. Need a silk halter to go with? This year marks the brand’s debut ready-to-wear collection.

studioamelia.co

Jaggar the Label

 

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Based in: Australia

Born in Australia and designed in London, Jaggar the Label’s unique footwear is eclectically inspired – think vintage motifs, sophisticated sculpture and the Meditteranean sea. Its sustainably made collection boasts wearable slingbacks, boots and heels in a rainbow of vibrant colours. A pair for every day of the week, no?

jaggarthelabel.com

Habbot

 

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Based in: Australia

Annie Abbot founded the aptly-named footwear label Habbot in 2019, using her experience in the Australian fashion industry to turn her St Kilda shed into the brand’s global headquarters. Using quality materials and traditional artisan production techniques, Habbot footwear is designed in Melbourne and handmade in Le Marche, Italy. The Habbot collection is elegant, functional and fun – your new forever shoes.

habbotstudios.com

Twoobs

 

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Based in: Australia (Melbourne)

Twoobs, founded by sisters Jess and Stef Dadon (@howtwolive), was born out of a need for comfortable, stylish shoes that are as kind on your feet as they are on the planet. Twoobs sandals have become a staple piece for the woman on the go. Made using carbon-neutral, recycled and vegan materials, Twoobs prides itself on making the comfiest shoes you’ll ever own. 

aus.twoobs.com

Monte

 

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Based in: Australia

Monte makes unisex slippers that can be worn both indoors and outdoors, which is pretty ideal for COVID times. Available in five shades and with optional made-to-order monogramming, the brand describes its designs as “a little bit hotel slipper, a little bit loafer”, which sounds like a bit of us, really.

montestore.com

R.M.Williams

Based in: Adelaide, Australia

What is there to say about R.M.Williams that hasn’t already been said? The brand has been an Australian icon for more than 80 years and continues to handcraft all its boots in its workshop in Adelaide, South Australia. Each boot is made from a single piece of high-quality leather and is really made to last – I know a friend who has had her pair for over 10 years – so when you break down the cost per wear you’ll see how solid an investment these babies are.

rmwilliams.com.au

Sol Sana

 

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Based in: Australia

Founded in 2010, Sol Sana is well-known for its stacked heels, sandals and boots, all of which reference high fashion trends while retaining a classic appearance. Its products are certified by the Leather Working Group, are produced using renewable energy sources and are made by hand by a dedicated and highly skilled team of artisans.

sol-sana.com.au

Blundstone

 

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Based in: Tasmania, Australia

Blundstone is one of Australia’s oldest footwear brands – it’s been making its beloved boots for over 150 years. Fondly dubbed ‘blunnies’ by many Australians, these are boots that have stood the test of time and are made to withstand any and every condition.

blundstone.com.au

Kuwaii

 

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Based in: Melbourne, Australia

Kuwaii is well-known for its slow, deliberate approach to fashion. It eschews the trend cycle in favour of timeless pieces, something that can be clearly seen in its incredibly popular range of footwear. Each pair is handmade in Melbourne at one of the countries last remaining footwear factories, and the range of loafers, brogues, boots and sandals have you covered for any occasion.

kuwaii.com.au

Pieds

 

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Based in: Australia (Melbourne)

Pieds’ sandals are made-to-order, meaning no deadstock is left to end up in landfill. Its sandals are also all made by hand by a small team in Melbourne. All styles are completely leather-free and don’t use any animal products and they are all delivered plastic-free, stored only in a mailing box. Pieds makes a select few styles consisting of a thick sole and elastic stretched over and around the foot.

pieds.com

Bb Shoemaker

 

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Based in: Australia (Adelaide)

All footwear and leather accessories made by Bb Shoemaker are assembled by hand at Ensemble Studios, a collective retail and studio space in Adelaide. Founder Beccy Bromilow created Bb Shoemaker in 2014 after studying custom made footwear with the goal to produce simple and practical designs that prioritise longevity. The brand makes a range of styles, like sling backs, sandals, slides and lace ups. 

bbshoemaker.com

Done by Matea

Based in: Australia (Adelaide)

Done by Matea is an artisan shoemaker based in Adelaide that describes its made-to-order, custom shoes as “wearable artworks”. All of Done by Matea’s unique footwear is handcrafted by designer Matea Gluscevic and is generally made using bold colours and materials. If you’re looking for a fun pair of shoes, then this is the label for you.

donebymatea.com

Merry People

 

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Based in: Australia (Melbourne)

Merry People started in 2014 as a result of founder Dani’s frustration with Melbourne’s unpredictable weather ruining her corporate shoes. She decided she needed a pair of durable and comfortable work shoes that could withstand the commute to the office and still be appropriate once she got there, so she created Merry People. The brand offers a range of gum boots in various styles and colours. 

merrypeople.com

Senso

 

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Based in: Australia

Originally founded in the ’80s, Senso has grown into one of Australia’s most successful footwear labels. Founded by husband and wife duo, Scarlett and Kim Meller, Senso has become a family business, with the addition of the Meller’s three daughters to the team in 2010. Senso makes everything from chunky boots to kitten heels and sneakers, with stockists all over the world. 

senso.com

For more ethical footwear suggestions, head here.

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