Best soles in Seoul
The benefits of a high-quality shoe are both tangible and necessary, not only for style, but also for longevity and health, says Reto Zimmermann, owner of Cheongdam-dong classic gentlemen’s shoe shop Zimmermann & Kim.
“Good shoes are made from natural materials inside and out,” he says. The natural leathers, dyes and glues offer better “breathability” for the foot, which make for a better “foot climate” and “better feeling.”
According to Zimmermann, arch support is also crucial, while food-beds made of cork allow the insole “to mold to one’s feet” for cushioning.
The proprietor’s passion for well-made shoes beats Carrie Bradshaw's hands-down; the former consultant quit his job at a high-profile management consulting firm in Switzerland last year to open Zimmermann & Kim in Seoul with his wife, Ji-Yoon Kim.
Zimmermann initially noted the lack of quality soles for men in Seoul when he accompanied his wife on holiday trips here after the pair met in Germany when they were students.
“There seemed to be almost no good shoes around for men, and the few that we could find were hugely overpriced compared to Europe and often not available in sizes only slightly above the Korean average,” says Zimmermann, on why he decided to open his store.
Zimmermann & Kim carries men’s shoes from two independent European shoemakers, Gaziano & Girling and Vass.
According to the owners, these brands are the best in the world.
Owning such classic shoes, says Zimmermann, is like owning “a piece of history.” The centuries-old shoemaking heritage “represents a history and tradition … a time when our clothes were made by artisans to the highest level of craftsmanship.”
Seoul fashion bloggers and connoisseurs seem to agree, as they have been flocking to the store since its opening, despite the store’s hefty prices. And while many would balk at paying around ₩1 million ($940) for a pair of shoes, Zimmermann insists that other shoes of comparable or even inferior quality are sold at twice his prices, especially from brands owned by luxury conglomerates.
“We want to have fair prices, which reflect our products' quality and honesty,” he says. “Sometimes customers don't know this, and ask for big discounts … like at a department store where everything is marked-up by about 50 percent and then ‘graciously’ discounted 10 percent.”
Zimmermann & Kim
+82 2 542 5982
2/F Hyeonyeon Building, 79-5 Cheongdam-dong, Gangnam-gu
강남구 청담동 79-5 현연빌딩 2층
- More on CNNGo: The Korean boyfriend gift guide