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Paul Smith sale shop, take two

28 November 2008

Ok, I’ve written about this before. But it deserves a second mention – largely because I bought my fifth pair of shoes in as many years there yesterday.

It is the Paul Smith sale shop. Located on Avery Row, just off a Bond Street tributary. Sells many items made by Mr Smith (suits, socks, shirts). But most impressively has a constant turnover of great shoes with 40% to 60% off.

You wouldn’t think that would happen with a sale shop. After all, its function is to take the dross that didn’t sell in the main store before the end of the season and recover as much profit as possible. When things don’t sell here, they have to be binned – so there is a steep incentive to try and recover your costs at least.

There isn’t always a great selection. Over the summer there was an alarming proliferation of leather sandals in the Paul Smith stripes. Which didn’t shift for months.

But pop in there when you are near Bond Street and I reckon every second or third visit will find you sorely tempted.

Last time I wrote about the store, I had just bought a pair of red “dip dye” suede brogues. They were lovely. All season I had watched that dip-dye range sit mockingly in Selfridge’s, daring me to spend over £250 on craftsmanship that doesn’t realistically match the great Northampton cordwainers they parade alongside.

Then, two months into the next season, a wave of the red suede numbers dropped into the sale store. It would seem red suede was the least popular of the permutations, yet they were my favourites.

But many of the shoes I have bought there have not been unusual. Chocolate wing-tips, for instance, and tan suede boots. The range of shoes and the sizes available is often impressive.

Particularly compared to a recent incarnation of the Paul Smith sale shop, which opened in the Royal Exchange in London. What was originally a straight Paul Smith store turned into a sale shop, but stocking an unusually limited range. All the shoes come in just one or two sizes, often seven for a man. (Which is usually a sign that the products are ex-display rather than ex-store, as display products are nearly always size seven – apparently it is the most aesthetically satisfying, for all you size sevens out there.)

Which brings me to the reason my enthusiasm was ignited anew. I had been looking for some practical boots, particularly with the prospect of Christmas in the country and lots of long Dorset walks. Something rubber-soled, possibly calf-length, nice hard-working leather.

And I found them yesterday in the sale shop, in the shape of Paul Smith’s collaboration he did with Triumph motorcycles. They’re slightly different to the model shown, being lower and not having the checkerboad pattern on the inside. But boy were they great value.

Go now. And watch out for the brown snakeskin oxfords.