Being the stereotypical girl that I am, I’m quite partial to all kinds of footwear. Whether it’s skyscraper stilettos, cute as a button pumps, or fierce and fabulous gladiator sandals, if they look good and can fit on my feet, consider them sold.
And like everyone with a bona fide shoe fetish, I always fancied joining the dizzy heights of Christian Louboutin, Manolo Blahnik and, eh, Paris Hilton, by designing my own pair.
Which was why, after lamenting on the lack of shoes I’d brought with me when moving to Cambodia (nine pairs just about fit into the backpack) I was elated when I came across Angkor Shoes: traditional shoe-makers who can create western-style, made-to-order footwear. You choose a style, a colour and a fabric, then three days later you have yourself a pair of tailor-made slippers.
I hot-footed it straight in. While four-inch heels were out of the question – I don’t think I could pedal over Siem Reap potholes in those babies – the styles available were still as stylish as anything I’d bag back home.
There are dozens of men’s, women’s and children’s styles in store. So much to choose from I didn’t feel the need to get out my sketch book à la Minolo. Though if you had something particular in mind or brought a picture to the store, once the design is leather-based, they can do their best to facilitate you.
With its showroom downstairs and workshop above, the shop (on Street 11, near the Sivutha Boulevard intersection with Street 7) tends to attract a lot of tourists.
It’s also brought in many clients through the hospitality sector, creating uniform footwear for hotel and restaurant staff around town.
After a half hour perusing the styles, from strappy to solid, flowers to bows, I went for a not-so-glamourous, but equally lovely, flat sandal with a high instep. Something that would go with everything in my (you guessed it) rather large wardrobe.
Once I had the style sorted, it was on to the fabric. I had decided on a neutral tan shade, but then discovered that brown leather isn’t just brown leather. There was every shade from taupe to mocha and every texture from suede to crocodile.
In the end, I opted for something in the middle – let’s call it a matte chestnut.
Next came the difficult bit: measuring up. You put your foot on a blank notebook page while the lovely and obliging assistant traces around your foot. So far, so easy, unless of course you have a chronic case of the tickles like me. I hadn’t had my feet measured since the age of 11, but it was the same labourious process at the age of 25; trying to sit squirm-free until the correct sizing was determined.
After the (relatively) painless procedure, $25 dollars, and three days, my shoes were ready. I figured I’d just call in to pick them up, but the girls in the shop sat me down, fitted the shoes, punched holes in the straps to fit my ankle and had me walk about to show them off and check the fit.
I was chuffed. Not only did the shoes look good, fit well and feel comfortable, but the quality is incredible. As good as designer brogues you might pay ten times the price for. To boot (no pun intended) I got a real kick out of the fact that they were made just for me. Who says it takes a red sole, a Louboutin tag, and 800 big ones to feel special?