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Quality Over Quantity
If you're a lady looking for something that falls into the 'spectacular shoes' category, look no further than the flirty and fun range at Mary Ching. The English-born designer creates shoes that are made to be noticed and they come in a large range of sizes (up to 41). Adding a pair of these beauties to your collection doesn't come cheap, with prices generally between 2,400rmb and 3,200emb for current season stock, but until the end of February they are having a huge sale with discounts of up to 80 percent, so there's never been a better time to buy.
Also in Ferguson Lane, women can find a range of larger size shoes at Dutch Items Shanghai (D.I.S). These are generally more along the lines of practical leather styles for work and sweet summery sandals for when the weather warms up, all made from high quality materials.
If you are one of the large number of women who have never been able to buy boots 'off the rack' because they won't fit your shapely calves, try Marks & Spencer. After a lifetime of never finding a pair of knee-high boots to fit, a recent excursion to M&S resulted in six pairs tried on and six perfect fits, something I never expected to find in Shanghai. Although their styles probably won't set the world alight anytime soon and the range of larger sizes for both men and women seems to be available erratically at best, buying pair of black leather knee-high boots for the first time is a pretty good feeling. Boots are priced from 699rmb, but stay on the look-out for the regular end-of-season sales when shoe prices plummet store-wide.
A hidden gem when it comes to shoe shopping for both male and female big foots can be found in Putuo District. The store's name is actually X-Large Shoes, which is really rather appropriate, because that's exactly what they sell -- up to a size 46 (!!) for women and 49 for men. The selection is hit and miss, but can include anything from dress shoes, ballet flats, trainers, boots, and sandals priced from 100rmb. The turnover is pretty high so checking back regularly is worthwhile, but if you can't be bothered making the trip and hoping for the best, the proprietor also sells selected style online through his Taobao store. Click here for that.
Another little store stocking big shoes can be found in Wuyi Lu. Although the selection isn't extensive, it's a good option for men's dress shoes up to a size 49, and with prices starting from 100rmb. It's well worth the effort of finding this hole in the wall and taking a closer look. It's at 491 Wuyi Lu -- walk down this alley for about 100 meters and look for the store on the righ hand side.
One of the truly great things about living in Shanghai is the availability and affordability of bespoke clothes and shoes. However, although there are plenty of options for getting shoes made especially for your feet, not all cobblers are created equal. Complaints of poor after-sales service and shoddy workmanship abound, but after successful personal experiences at the following two stores, I definitely recommend them to others.
Wang Yunsheng from Wang Hand Craft is an experienced shoe-maker who studied her trade in Italy for two years. You can choose from a range of imported leathers, the service is great and the shoes always come out well. The process takes about two weeks and the shoes are priced from 700rmb up to 1,200rmb for women's boots. Another nice touch is that Mrs Wang will courier your shoes to you when they are finished, so you don't have to worry about going back to the shop and pick them up.
Benzhou Hand Made Shoes is another reliable choice for custom-made shoes with prices starting from 600rmb (for rubber soles) and 700rmb (for leather soles). The process takes between two and three weeks and these guys are skilled enough to copy shoes from a picture (which is pretty rare).
Aside from Decathlon, which also stock a range of larger sizes, Shanghai Outlets Mall is a good option for big sports shoes. We found sizes up to 43 for women and 45 for men in brands such as Adidas, Nike and Asics. This place is miles away, so don't plan to just pop in for a quick look.
Women looking to put their best foot forward with a designer's touch should seek out Sam the Shoe Man, he delivers faux Louboutins, Choos, Blahniks, McQueens, Diors and more directly to your door. Shanzhai designer shoes are widely available on Taobao, but if your putonghua skills aren't up to the job, Sam is the English-speaking alternative. To shop his extensive range of styles (up to a size 42), go to the website, send an email to get a quote for the style(s) you like and when you’ve confirmed what you want to buy, Sam brings them to your home so you can try them on and pay cash on delivery. Although I have shopped with Sam many times without any problems, I have heard other people complain of after-sales service issues. To save yourself any potential trouble, made sure you check the size and quality carefully before handing over your money.