If the Shoe Fits: Five B.C. retailers put their best foot forward

Five custom shoemakers that will get you on the good foot

Whether you get your kicks from fancy footwear or prefer to tread cautiously, these B.C. businesses can handcraft shoes that are custom fitted and tailored to your taste

Heritage Style

Beginning with logging footwear in 1946, Dayton Boots, still located in the same factory store on Vancouver’s Hasting Street, now manufactures a range of styles for men and women. Options include stock (standardized style and sizing), made-to-order (standard sizing, choice of heights, leathers and trim) and bespoke (custom last). From $395; $194 extra for made-to-order, $1,000 for bespoke.

At Your Service

Renée Macdonald, founder of Westerly Handmade Shoes in East Vancouver, specializes in bespoke (custom design and fit) and made-to-measure (existing design, custom fit) footwear. She also provides a couple of made-to-order styles in stock sizes and customized colour schemes. From $1,500, $975 and $675, respectively.

Spoiled for Choice

Bao Ly, who opened Bao Shoemaker in Victoria 15 years ago, immigrated to Canada from South Vietnam, where his family had a wholesale sandal business. He can fit any foot and make any style of shoe, and also gives one-on-one shoemaking classes. From $400 to $600, depending on the design, material and manufacturing time required.

Suit Yourself

Victoria’s Rock Bay Footwear, launched by John Whittaker in 2015, makes regular and orthopedic shoes. Customers can choose or modify one of the company’s existing styles or work with a designer to create something original. Apart from a few off-the-shelf therapeutic models, all are custom fit. From $600 to $700.

Singular Taste

Artisan Nathan deBridge creates Soul Path Shoes moccasin boots on Salt Spring Island. They are individually fitted to each person’s foot and calf using a patterning method developed for online customers. From $360 (for an ankle bootie), with additional costs related to style, trim and custom artwork or design.


The adage “You can tell a man or woman by their shoes” is true, according to a study published in 2012 by researchers from the University of Kansas and Wellesley College. Participants were able to correctly judge strangers’ age, gender, income and attachment anxiety just by looking at photos of their footwear.