It goes without saying that many Australians look overseas when shopping for new season wardrobe pieces. When it comes to must-have footwear, however, there’s really no need because local brands are veterans of the trade.
With our year-round sunshine and dreamy beachside landscapes, it’s no surprise that we’ve nailed the sandal in all its forms. We’re spoiled for choice, from the most delicately minimal slides to the chunkiest of ‘dad’ sandals. And, while we could spend the majority of the year in these, local brands understand that our unpredictable weather means versatility is a top priority for us. Between the beach, the bush, and the hustle and bustle of city life, Aussie living necessitates a diverse range of high-quality footwear that can easily take us from the office to dinner, and from the beach to the bar.
And, thankfully, we have a plethora of options to choose from.
With iconic brands like R.M Williams perfecting the Chelsea boot for nearly nine decades, to newer shoe labels like A.Emery encapsulating the laid back sophistication of the Australian fashion aesthetic with their timeless leather designs, we don’t have to look beyond our pristine shores for a good pair of shoes.
Some local women’s footwear labels are absolutely killing it, pioneering sustainable production methods and cutting-edge designs. The best part is that these brands demonstrate that a quality pair to add to your capsule collection doesn’t have to break the bank.
We’ve compiled a list of the best Australian shoe brands for you to get your hands (and feet) on.
The best Australian shoe brands to shop in 2022
In sandals, you’re a game changer. A.Emery was founded in Melbourne in 2017 and has since been worn by everyone in our office. The brand has pioneered a new approach to footwear, offering minimal and refined designs that transcend seasons and trend cycles to become a lifetime addition to your wardrobe. We can’t get enough of this brand, whether they’re chunky and intimidating or delicate and pared back, and with nothing over $200, they’re the kind of investment that won’t break the bank.
Christopher Esber’s shoes, like his clothes, are designed in Australia. Bold, refined, and modern, with a strong sex appeal. The brand’s distinct aesthetic imbued structural designs and highly conceptual pieces with an undone easiness that feels uniquely Australian. These are the heels we fantasize about.
This local brand not only produces some of the most functional sandals we’ve ever seen right here on our shores using solar energy, but it also uses only recycled, chrome-free leathers and dead stock fabrics to maximize sustainability across the board without sacrificing durability. And, contrary to what your mind may conjure up when considering sustainable footwear collections, these shoes are also stylish.
Mara & Mine
Mara & Mine’s designs are inspired by the desire to bring a sense of luxury to everyday dressing. Mara & Mine, founded by two Aussies with extensive knowledge of the local fashion industry, has become a go-to for the ultimate off-duty looks that easily transition from day to night and desk to drinks.
If your style is more industrial, you’ve probably come across this brand’s page. Alias Mae, founded in 2011 by Tom Kirkhope, is known for its flexibility, always offering an array of the most on-trend shapes and designs without charging its customers a small fortune. Despite being quick on the draw, the brand is selective in its creations, producing styles that could easily stay with you forever, especially if you enjoy a good boot.
These leather boots, an Aussie icon, transcend seasons to become the shoes we own for life. While they can be on the more expensive side of the spectrum, each pair is handcrafted and comes with a guarantee, making them well worth the investment.
Senso was founded in the 1980s with the goal of bringing chic and stylish footwear to everyday people, and it has since become a go-to for footwear. From daytime mules and sneakers to sky-high heels and boots, you’ll find it all here.
St. Agni is a one-stop shop for sustainable fashion, using natural, biodegradable materials in its design process. The designs strike the perfect balance of effortless sophistication that goes with just about anything, offering a range of footwear, from boots to minimalist sandals, all made using hand-dyed leathers.
LMS is the place to go for funky, party-ready footwear. With unconventional shapes, dopamine-inducing hues, and structural block heel shapes, the Sydney-based brand stocks shoes that will have you itching to dance the night away.
Maria Farro, whose roots can be traced back to Australia’s Bondi Beach, pioneered the recent strappy sandal trend. These footwear staples, which combine ancient craftsmanship with modern aesthetics, are handcrafted in Crete, Greece with the utmost care and consideration from the softest leathers. Combine with a floaty summer dress or relaxed trousers to instantly add ease to any look.
Sol Sana has championed an effortless approach to footwear since 2010, with a collection ranging from modern, minimalist slides to on-trend statement heels. The brand’s neo-boho studded slides, as well as its wispy, barely-there kitten heels, have a cult following.
The Jo Mercer woman is defined by modern classicism. The feminine, polished aesthetic of the brand is evident throughout its collection of leather mules, heeled boots, and sleek loafers. If you’re looking for a classic shoe that can easily transition from the office to the bar, look no further than the brand.
Tony Bianco, a long-standing name in the Australian shoe scene, is known for producing high-quality footwear with a modern twist. You can always count on the brand to respond to current trends—shop for patent platforms, fun, animal-printed heels, or everyday sandals that you can wear all weekend.
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Punk-tinged label Windsor Smith is all about pushing boundaries. Look for chunky soles, youthful silhouettes, and laced-up boots. Details in shoes can make or break a look, and Windsor Smith has plenty of them.
Your one-stop shop for functional classics with a European twist. Essen’s shoes are designed in Melbourne and manufactured in small batches across Italy and Portugal. Ballet flats in buttery cream leather, party-ready white pumps, and low mules for traversing kilometers of cobblestone paths are all available.
What shoes are in style for 2021?
Unlike other accessories, shoe trends tend to last longer, which means you’re less likely to experience buyer’s remorse when embracing the latest trend. Though they’ve been around for a while, we’re expecting an even bigger influx of chunkier loafers and boots this season as the winter chill sets in. The height is the key to nailing this trend. If you’re short, knee-length boots can clash with the rest of your outfit, so opt for a classic ankle or calf-length style. If you’re looking for a pair of dressy boots, choose ones with a squared-off toe and a thin heel.
Sneakers are always on the table, no matter the season. We’re currently coveting retro styles that are a slightly toned-down version of the ‘dad sneaker,’ best worn with baggy jeans and layered knits.
And, unlike in previous seasons, we don’t think we’ll be saying goodbye to all of our sandals just yet. The summer chunky sandal trend actually makes for good winter footwear, as long as the weather is nice and you’re not freezing your toes off!
What shoes should everyone have?
This is entirely dependent on your personal style, but the basic shoe styles that fit into any shoedrobe are listed below.
Heels: Everyone needs a good pair of ‘dressy’ shoes for special occasions. Whether you’re looking to dress up a casual outfit or attending a formal event, heels can take any height, and even the most stiletto-averse will find their match in the kitten heels department.
Sneakers: You probably have a pair for working out, but a pair that can be worn with jeans or a midi dress is essential. They’re the shoe that’s always worth the investment because they’re comfortable, cool, and extremely versatile.
Boots: Often associated with winter fashion, boots are actually a highly underappreciated all-seasons look. They not only strike the ideal balance of dressy and casual, but they are almost always durable and long-lasting.
Sandals: From Birkenstocks to strappy flats, sandals are a versatile look. Though we’d argue that you can never have too many pairs, the essentials to own are a go-to everyday pair for running errands, and a slightly more elevated pair that can be worn with your workwear (depending on your gig, of course) or on date night.
Flats: Another ambiguous but necessary term, ‘flats’ can refer to anything from loafers to ballet slippers, but we’re essentially talking about some kind of enclosed-toe shoe that isn’t quite formal, but still professional enough to wear to work.
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