How your choice of shoes reveals where you live in Britain

It is often said that you can tell a lot about someone by their shoes. There is some truth in that: we get clues about the kind of work they do – or don’t do; lifestyle; music taste; whether they agree with passing trends, are indifferent or even consider themselves above all else.

Your choice of shoes can also reveal which part of Britain you come from. It makes sense: people who live in colder, wetter and windier parts of the country (we see you, Scotland) will rely on all-weather boots for a greater part of the year than those in London. No wonder the Danner Mountain Light boots are a year-round bestseller at Edinburgh’s Epitome boutique, while Phase Eight says slingbacks sell better in the south than in the north.

“Normally there is a north-south split in our orders, with boots and chunkier styles selling well further north, versus more formal styles further south,” says Lizzie Darby of Made the Edit, a London boutique with an e -commerce department that ships throughout the country. “However, we are seeing an increase in dressier styles in the north, although the colors are more practical than in London and the south.”

Regional culture and industry also shape our choices, and no one understands this better than those who shop in the stores that populate our local high streets. Just ask Justine Mills, owner of Liverpool high-fashion favorite Cricket, who has become famous for outfitting footballers’ wives. Her stock will look very different from an equally luxurious boutique in the South East because she is so in tune with what her most loyal customers, including Coleen Rooney, will buy.

Of course, you can’t completely generalize when there are so many different factors at play, and there are styles that sell well everywhere – flat Mary Janes, fashion sneakers, anything and everything, silver. LK Bennett reports a shift across the board to blocking heels. The best-selling shoes in different parts of the country still make for intriguing reading.

Does your shoe collection match local trends? Scroll on to find out…


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shoe card uk

Suede toe cap Mary Jane, £72.25, John Lewis; Pointed flats, £185, Made the edit; Salomon XT-4 trainers, £175, Couverture & De Garbstore

It will come as no surprise that Londoners are aware of the current trends. It’s also a huge city, so a good purchase will mean different things to different people. One consistency among the retailers we surveyed? Flat Mary Janes with a soft square toe – especially at John Lewis and LK Bennett. It makes sense: most people get around on foot or use public transportation, making comfortable (yet undoubtedly cool) shoes essential.

At Made the Edit it is the pointy flats that are always sold out. “It is not unusual for customers to purchase multiple pairs of the ‘Izzy’ style in gold, silver, navy blue, black and pink snake at our store,” says Darby. “It’s a classic style, beautifully made and super versatile.”

Londoners love an ‘It’ trainer, and while demand for Adidas Sambas and Gazelles may have cooled thanks to our political leaders, there’s still enthusiasm for Salomons and New Balance 550s, the last drop of which quickly sold out in the Notting Hill -boutique Couverture & De Garbstore.


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shoe card uk

Le Monde Beryl Mesh Mary Janes, £395, 32 The Guild; Autry Medalists, £170, 32 The Guild; Flat bow pump, £295, Bowhill & Elliott

“For us, it’s all about the Mary Jane,” says Zoie Walker of 32 The Guild in Northampton. “Our customer is focused on both fashion and comfort and this trend meets all requirements and will not disappear anytime soon. The Le Monde Beryl mesh style is so cute and is often purchased in both colors when a customer has a fresh pedi, as evidenced by the mesh upper.”

The boutique also has a waiting list for the ’80s-inspired Autry monochrome Medalist trainer. “Everyone wants it,” Walker says.

In Norwich, a different kind of luxury apartment is selling well: “The teal velvet flat bow pump has just been launched and is proving popular,” says Lucia Debieux of Bowhill & Elliott.

“We get a lot of requests for something that is both feminine and flat and suitable for weddings, black ties, dinner parties and so on. Comfort is the key!”


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shoe card uk

Shoe the bear Mary Janes, £120, Bod and Ted; Castaner Chiarita Espadrilles, £135, Number six; Woden Line sandal, £90, The changing room

Both The Dressing Room in St Albans and Bod & Ted in Tunbridge Wells say Shoe the Bear’s Maya Mary Jane is flying off the shelves, while Collen & Clare in Southwold have discovered Esska’s T-bar platform sandals as a customer favourite. “It’s not an understatement to say that every team member has at least one pair and I think many of our customers are building up quite a collection,” says Managing Director Vanessa Collen.

Castaner espadrilles have been a strong seller at Number Six in Chelmsford for the past five years. “Sales of the Carina wedge went through the roof after the Princess of Wales debuted hers in 2019, and [she has worn them] for many public engagements since then,” said Katy Arain, the retailer’s head of womenswear. Number Six customers also love Hoff’s colorful, well-priced sneakers.

The warm weather is a major concern for shoppers in the South East, with sales of Woden’s Line sandals proving strong at The Dressing Room, Ancient Greek Sandals at Bod & Ted and Freedom slides at Number Six, while LK Bennett says the mules are. most popular in the East Midlands and the South East.

South West

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shoe card uk

Donna Lei raffia platform shapes, £160, Sass & Rand; Gola Grandslam trainers, £85, John Lewis; Novesta Star Master sneakers, £59, Maze

Winchester’s Sass & Edge reports that the Donna Lei raffia flatforms are proving to be an early summer hit. “They add some height and are super comfortable,” says the boutique’s Ali Henderson. “Our metallic Berg Wash boots, also from Donna Lei, have been a bestseller for a few seasons now, they fly out the door as soon as we restock them.”

Trainers are the main event in the South West by the way. At Maze in Bristol, Novesta sneakers, in all colors and styles, are a hit, while John Lewis shoe sales in the region tell much the same story. Poole likes flat shoes for ultimate comfort. The best-performing shoes are Ugg clog sandals and Gola Grandslam sneakers, according to John Lewis research. In the Southampton store, Gabor’s pink suede flatform sneakers are one of the top favorites.

Northern England

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shoe card uk

Satin Bow Courtes, £99, Phase Eight; Holland Cooper Chelsea Court trainer, £89, Wild & Westbrooke; Woven Leather Wedges, £189, L. K. Bennett

While we’d never suggest that those in the North East are the same as those in the North West, shoe buying habits are quite similar – and classic styles are the rule: black pumps are the most popular purchase at LK Bennett and Phase Eight in the North of England, but also at John Lewis, where Whistles’ suede Corie court is a favorite.

Bow-tie shoes are selling best in Sheffield, according to Phase Eight, while LK Bennett is also seeing strong espadrille sales in stores in the north, where purchase rates are “much higher than in the south”.

The taste is also more traditional when it comes to casual shoes: Wild & Westbrooke in York cannot keep Holland Cooper’s Chelsea Court sneakers in stock. “One lady bought the navy blue color, wore them out of the store and came back a few hours later to buy the other two colors because they were so comfortable,” says director Laura Stirk. “We are struggling to get deliveries fast enough.”

Le Chameau boots are also a reliable seller; “definitely a sign of how much rain we’re having,” as well as driving shoes from Fairfax & Favor.


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shoe card uk

Kleman Padror, £135, Embodiment; Flower Mountain Washi sneaker, £199, Boundaries; Suede block heel pumps, £194, L. K. Bennett

“With our cobbled streets, hilly landscape and changeable weather, fashion in Edinburgh is inevitably linked to functionality,” says Cat Eles, store manager of Frontiers Woman, which regularly sells Karhu and Flower Mountain trainers. She says the attitude is best summed up by one customer who said, “Life is too short, buy the yellow sneakers.”

We also see this factor at play in LK Bennett’s data; the bestsellers in Scotland are pumps with block heels – much easier to walk in than stilettos.

At Epitome in Edinburgh it’s a minimalist moccasin-style shoe from French brand Kleman, which is a consistent bestseller. “A customer once came to our store to buy a pair of Kleman Padrors as a gift for her daughter. She enjoyed seeing them on her daughter so much that she came back the following week to buy a few for herself,” says Freya Aitken-Scott, the boutique’s sales and marketing assistant. Birkenstock Boston and Arizona styles are also strong sellers at Epitome. “Last year it got to the point where we had a waiting list for restocking.”


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shoe card uk

Esska suede platform sandals, £160, Kiti Cymru; 0’105 Spider sneakers, £196, Kiti Cymru; Dune hose block heel pump, £59.50 John Lewis

There are no compromises in Wales, where women expect both length and comfort from special occasion shoes. At Kiti Cymru, a boutique in Cardiff, Esska shoes meet these expectations. “Even our customers who are averse to heels find them exceptionally comfortable and easy to wear,” says founder Gwenno Davies. “The red ones are particularly beautiful and are having a moment this season.”

“Our 0’105 sneakers this season have been very popular,” added Davies. “They give a cool twist to the casual look, but with the color our customer loves.”

Sales of slingbacks at LK Bennett were three times higher in Wales than in any other region, while Dune’s snake print block heels were bestsellers at John Lewis in Cardiff.

Northern Ireland

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shoe card uk

Comme des Garçons Marathon Trainers, £395, Belfast envoy; Simone Rocha ballerina, £595, Belfast envoy; Leather flat sandals, £149, L. K. Bennett

High-fashion ballet sneakers – sleek-looking kicks with the angled shape of a ballet slipper – are the most popular purchases at Envoy of Belfast. “Our best-selling styles for SS24 are Dries Van Noten’s 1970s marathon sneakers, both green and brown,” says the store’s Tilly Muldrew. “[Also selling well are] overdyed sneakers from Comme des Garçons x Spalwart in all three colorways.”

LK Bennett notes that sandals are also selling well in Northern Ireland.

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