Great Things Found in Unlikely Places. | A Continuous Lean.

Great Things Found in Unlikely Places.

Jan 14th, 2013 | Categories: Footwear, Menswear | by Michael Williams

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What if I was to ask you: “What city do you think has the finest men’s shoe store in America?” One would automatically assume to hear the following cities (probably in this order): 1. New York, 2. Boston 3. Chicago. Logic would suggest cities that have strong business communities with lots of banks and other serious institutions where men wear suits and make serious decisions. What if I was to tell you that the best men’s footwear store in the United States is in Honolulu?

“No fucking way.” Would be your response.

Well, add a dollar to the swear jar, because the best men’s shoe store in the U.S. (if not the world) is in the Royal Hawaiian shopping center in Waikiki, Its name is Leather Soul and it will make your head explode.

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The guys that work at Leather Soul basically treat the business of shoes like brain surgery. They take it very seriously. I’m someone who likes shoes, but I don’t even come close to the levels of footwear intensity that these guys posses. The store happens to be situated in one of the nicest shopping centers in the U.S., only a few hundred yards from the world-famous Waikiki beach — very squarely (and strangely) in the heart of Aloha-wear country.

I’m told that most of business men in Honolulu actually wear aloha shirts, khakis and dress shoes to the office. Crazy. But it’s not just the Aloha shirt wearing guys from Hawaii’s business community that build out Leather Soul’s client roster. LS deals mostly with hardcore shoe obsessed folks from all over the world. It also doesn’t hurt that the tourists that visit Hawaii (massive amounts of Japanese people; Tokyo is six hours flying time away from Honolulu) do lots of shopping in Waikiki. Apparently, Japanese people take a vacation from constantly shopping to go shopping. I can’t explain it.

What I can explain is the fact that Leather Soul’s brand line-up is not bad. That’s sarcasm, the stockist is a nightmare for anyone who likes well-made shoes. Footwear brands on offer are: Edward Green, Alden, Quoddy, J.W. Weston, Whitehouse Cox, Tricker’s, John Lobb, Saint Crispin’s and George Cleverley. It also sells, Globe Trotter, Drake’s and Rimowa. Basically every brand is better than the next. The message is clear: You will not get out alive.

A lot of folks on these internets have heard about Leather Soul via Guido Wongolini or Tumblr or just through word of mouth, but I think that Leather Soul really doesn’t get the attention it deserves. Tom Park, the store’s founder and owner is too humble to scream the self promotion that some shops do. Tom is more concerned with providing amazing service and dealing in great product available to focus too much on that.

While I was in Kaua’i recently I took a day out of my vacation to make a pilgrimage over to Oahu to see Leather Soul with my own eyes. I disguised the trip to my girlfriend’s family by saying that I was going to visit a client and definitely not getting on a plane to specifically see a shoe store (the client bit is however sort of true, because we do in a very limited way help out Tom with a few PR things, full disclosure and all that good stuff) who would do something like that?!? But the “see a client bit” was really just B.S. — I’ve wanted to see the awesomeness that is Leather Soul for a few years and I couldn’t miss the chance. The visit confirmed that while in an unlikely place, Leather Soul is as good as it gets. [LEATHER SOUL]

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The men of Leather Soul, including founder Tom Park at front left.

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Ask for that “Shiggy Shine.”

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Comments: 25

25 Comments to “Great Things Found in Unlikely Places.”

  1. Ryan
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 2:56 PM

    Truth, no one comes close.

  2. Noble County Gold
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 3:18 PM

    Place is Mecca for us that go HAM on footwear. Selection and staff are killer.

  3. A. Frankel
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 3:19 PM

    Wanted to visit in the first place, this just made me want to more so.

  4. Sam
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 3:20 PM

    Mike – long time… Tell us, do they actually serve/sell the whisky to customers, or is it just for show?

  5. Dave
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 4:20 PM

    they’re my shoe porn headquarters

  6. Bill Smith
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 5:48 PM

    Wish there was a store like this in Toronto. Selection for mens shoes is just plain awful.

  7. Todd
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 6:31 PM

    Yes, definitely a great place with a superb selection of shoes. LS is a strong 2nd place after the finest shoe store in America. That would be Leffot in NYC.

  8. Garrick
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 8:42 PM

    serve…doesnt sell whiskey…no liquor license

  9. Travis
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 9:00 PM

    Holy Sh!t that looks amazing.

  10. craig T.
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 9:26 PM

    Their store in LA, while not quite as nice is still worth the trip as well.

  11. Eric K
    on Jan 14th, 2013
    @ 9:46 PM

    Are you guys planning to open in New York City? We need you guys here!! Amazing store!

  12. Dutch Uncle
    on Jan 15th, 2013
    @ 1:53 AM

    Nothing could get me to go to Hawaii.
    Even worse than Southern California.

  13. JRS
    on Jan 15th, 2013
    @ 8:03 AM

    I’ve known of their existence only in 2D form. I don’t know how you made yourself leave…

  14. Harry
    on Jan 15th, 2013
    @ 10:17 PM

    These guys are top notch. LS and Leffot are my go-to for Alden since nobody in Toronto carries good shoes.

  15. meble
    on Jan 15th, 2013
    @ 11:29 PM

    wow, god bless you for your service!

  16. M Arthur
    on Jan 16th, 2013
    @ 12:09 AM

    Superb!

  17. Aaron H
    on Jan 16th, 2013
    @ 12:28 PM

    More importantly, you’ll notice the bottle of Yamazaki 18 along with the Kaws/Futura x Hennesey. Fifth picture from the bottom.

  18. Chris C
    on Jan 17th, 2013
    @ 1:22 AM

    Wow, that looks fabulous. I’ll have to make a point to visit it when I see my relatives.

  19. Braker
    on Jan 17th, 2013
    @ 8:01 AM

    @dutchuncle, hell yeah

    Nyc, london and paris are good enough for me. Like anyone even wears those shoes in hawaii….where only one fine restaurant is jacket required….

  20. Mike
    on Jan 17th, 2013
    @ 7:42 PM

    Bill Smith & Harry,
    there’s actually one store I came accross opening on 24 Bellair Street, in Yorkville area. I parked in front and saw their window wrap. I wrote them, and from what I heard the place will be insane for men’s shoes.
    I’m really happy finally we can have something like this in Toronto.
    They will stock brands like Saint-Crispin’s, Corthay, Gaziano & Girling, Alfred Sargent, Carmina, and I think Alden and more. It’s called Leatherfoot. You should check them out (www.facebook.com/leatherfootinc , @leatherfootinc or their site coming soon: http://www.leatherfoot.com )

  21. Tom
    on Jan 19th, 2013
    @ 9:00 AM

    LS is fantastic. But I agree with above commentators, Leffot is the best shoe store in the country

  22. mat
    on Jan 21st, 2013
    @ 5:37 PM

    immense. can’t be so easy to access for most though?

  23. George S.
    on Jan 21st, 2013
    @ 7:12 PM

    Boston!? Uh yeah…no…not a chance.

  24. KM
    on Jan 22nd, 2013
    @ 3:29 PM

    Came. Saw. Conquered.

    Truly impressive.

  25. Dahveed
    on Feb 4th, 2013
    @ 4:20 AM

    Simply incredible. What a sight to behold.