San Francisco shoes are a mainstay for area shoppers. There's no denying that San Franciscans love their shoes-I know many people who have skipped eating lunch for a week in order to save money to buy a new pair of leather boots (not that they actually need them-San Franciscans are also known for having too many shoes). If you're in town and hungry for new footwear, you've got lots of places to choose from for making purchases. Here's our discriminating guide to the best shoe stores in San Francisco.
416 Hayes Street (between Gough and Octavia Streets) (415) 864-0691 Official Website: Gimme Shoes
A mainstay on the San Francisco shoe scene, Gimme has been putting stylish footwear on the trendy and fashionable for over 20 years now. Their roomy, well-lit showroom features designs from such well-known names as Prada, Paul Smith, Helmut Lang, Glory Chen, and Dries Van Noten. The shop also carries designer handbags and accessories like watches and sunglassses, as well as hot sneakers from the likes of Puma, Adidas, Onitsuka, and Nike. Be sure to check out the men's and women's sale racks, where you can find smashingly good deals all the time (I got a pair of suede Onitsuka high-tops here for $45!). Additional Gimme locations can be found at 50 Grant Avenue at Market Street (415-434-9242) and 2358 Fillmore Street at Clay Street (415) 441-3040).
San Francisco Shoes: Paolo
524 Hayes Street (between Gough and Octavia Streets) (415) 552-4580
Utterly elegant and expensive Hayes Valley shoe store is the place to come to when you want to strap on Italian-made footwear. Expect to find loafers, heels, boots, and lace-ups for men and women, as well as sprightly assistance from salespeople who are never snobby, even though they could get away with being so. There's a small selection of casual footwear, designer purses, and belts, but be warned now-don't even think about coming in here if you've got a shoe fetish but are low on money. It's almost impossible to not walk out with a purchase!
Astrid's Rabat Shoes & Accessories
3909 24th Street (at Sanchez Street) (415) 282-7400 Official Website: Astrid's
Cozy Noe Valley shoe shop places comfort over trendiness with their selection of footwear, although fashion isn't completely forsaken-you're just more likely to find a pair of kicks here that emphasize the importance of arch support as opposed to flashy materials and designs. Find leather and non-leather shoes and boots from Blundstone, Dansko, Keen, Earth, Cydwoq, Bacco Bucci, and Frye. There's also a great selection of handbags, wallets, and colorful socks.
San Francisco Shoes: Shoebiz II
1553 Haight Street (at Clayton Street) (415) 861-3933 Official Website: Shoe Biz
When a visitor comes to San Francisco on the hunt for a hot new pair of sneakers, the first place San Franciscans tell said visitor to hit is Shoe Biz II. This uber-hip sneaker shop has a massive selection of skateboarding, cross-training, hiking, and casual footwear for men and women-you'll find new and often very colorful styles from such big names as Vans, Adidas, Puma, Converse, Tsubo, Onitsuka Tiger, Lacoste, Saucony, and Durango. You'll also find an assortment of cool scarves, gloves, hats (Kangol, baby!), and tracksuits to purchase, and an extensive array of marked-down sneakers from all of the above design houses. Do know that the store can get quite crowded, and that the DJ-spun music is always played a bit too loud. Be prepared to speak loudly to a salesperson when inquiring about a pair of shoes you want to try on!
838 Market Street (at Stockton Street) (415) 834-1436 Official Website for online shopping: Shoe Pavilion
Many shoe snobs laugh off Shoe Pavilion, but I'm telling you, it is without a doubt one of the best places to shop for San Francisco shoes, especially if you're in the need of stylish but inexpensive footwear. This two-story discount warehouse offers savings of up to 70% off on men, women, and children's designer dress and casual footwear, including such big names as John Madden, Nike, Bandolino-Blaise, and Splash-Musk. You'll also find a wide variety of accessories like handbags, belts, wallets, hats, socks, and shoe care products like polish and brushes. Shoe Pavilion is the best place to go to for a pair of cheap dress shoes you know you won't wear that often (i.e. ones suitable for job interviews, weddings, and funerals). I recently got a pair of Pierre Cardin black dress shoes here for a wedding for only $50!
1672 Haight Street (at Belvedere Street) (415) 626-5939 Official Website: Villains
Villains is one of the hottest clothing boutiques in all of San Francisco, and their footwear wing offers shoe fetishists the chance to indulge in browsing and purchasing experiences that will definitely exceed their wildest expectations. If you like wild, funky, and insanely trendy shoes, heels, boots, and sneakers, then Villains is your personal heaven. Expect to find hot kicks from the likes of Puma, Evisu, United Nude, Fornarina, Tsubo, and Blundstone, to name a few. The staff is incredibly helpful and friendly when serving you, and seems to be able to pull what you need to try on from the stockroom in a matter of seconds. Be warned that the store can get incredibly crowded on the weekends, so if you're really in the mood to shop here, try to go on a weekday or night.